[Note: I first posted this over a year ago, and it was one of my most commented upon pieces. Alas, since the "light bulb" is still the conventional symbol for "new ideas," I think its message is still relevant. Any replacement suggestions are much appreciated.]
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Today, I'm announcing the death of a long time metaphor for creativity and innovation: the light bulb.
If you think about it, it's really quite amazing that a 125-year-old invention has had such longevity as a symbol for fresh thinking.
Imagine, for example, if the Long Play (LP) phonograph album (the 33 RPM version popularized in the 1950s) had become the metaphor for "new ideas." It would have been laughed out of existence no later than the early 1980s.
This hit home to me in a recent conversation I had with an art director with one of my publishers. We were reviewing cover mock-ups for one of my upcoming projects. One of them had a light bulb — symbolizing a "new idea."
I told her: "We can't use the light bulb for two reasons. First, it's a very, very, very old metaphor for a new idea. And second, the environmentalists are going to vilify the incandescent light bulb in coming years."
So long, trusty innovation metaphor. You served well! But it's time to find something new.
Question: What are your suggestions for the new creativity metaphor?