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50% of patents are inadvertent?So how many big ideas emerge from spills, crashes, failed experiments and blind stabs? One survey of patent holders (the PatVal study of European inventors, published in 2005) found that an incredible 50 percent of patents resulted from what could be described as a serendipitous process. Thousands of survey respondents reported that their idea evolved when they were working on an unrelated project — and often when they weren’t even trying to invent anything. This is why we need to know far more about the habits that transform a mistake into a breakthrough.
When You Shouldn’t Try to Dominate a Negotiationthere are instances when negotiators should act deferentially—they should maintain a constrictive body posture, adopt a softer tone of voice, and take other steps to ensure their negotiation partner feels respected, competent and unthreatened. It all comes down to the complexity of the deal and how the person across the table is behaving. In negotiations with many moving parts, negotiators need to find a conversational dynamic that allows them to exchange information effectively, to unravel the different areas of dispute, and to ensure that all the nuances of a potential deal are fully explored. This is best achieved when two parties attain what we call “dominance complementarity,” wherein one person in an interaction behaves relatively deferentially and the other behaves relatively dominantly.
Certainly for artists of all stripes, the unknown, the idea or the form or the tale that has not yet arrived, is what must be found. It is the job of artists to open doors and invite in prophesies, the unknown, the unfamiliar; it’s where their work comes from, although its arrival signals the beginning of the long disciplined process of making it their own. Scientists too, as J. Robert Oppenheimer once remarked, “live always at the ‘edge of mystery’ – the boundary of the unknown.” But they transform the unknown into the known, haul it in like fishermen; artists get you out into that dark sea.
The word “lost” comes from the Old Norse los, meaning the disbanding of an army, and this origin suggests soldiers falling out of formation to go home, a truce with the wide world. I worry now that many people never disband their armies, never go beyond what they know. Advertising, alarmist news, technology, incessant busyness, and the design of public and private space conspire to make it so.
My contention is that Pinterest is one of the four ways that people find things on the Internet. The default, of course, is Googling (or—fine, Microsoft—Binging). For real-time searches, there is Twitter. For people or entities, there's Facebook. But if what you want to find are things, objects, then Pinterest is the way to go. And they are just getting started. They've got 30 billion pins now, half of them in the last six months. They've got 750 million boards. A full 75 percent of their traffic comes from mobile devices, and according to researchers, they're the top traffic source to retailers' websites and an important secondary source after Facebook for some media sites, like Buzzfeed.
One important discovery tool on Amazon is the Hot New Releases list, which displays the top-selling books in each genre and sub-genre released in the last thirty days. Getting on the first page of this list for your genre or sub-genre can be a great driver of sales, but readers don’t seem to browse past the first page in serious numbers. (In fact, it’s doubly important in historical fiction, which has no sub-categories to aid visibility, and where you need to be ranked at regularly below #2,000 to #3,000 to scrape in at the outer reaches of the chart.)