May 16, 2012
Don't Just Spot the Future, Make the Future
Our desire to know the future seems limitless. Our ability to know it, however, is very limited. So how are we to satisfy those longings that even Snickers can't satisfy? Here's a clue: it's not measuring how many hits you get when you Google something because everything gets a gazillion hits.
The latest issue of Wired magazine, on the other hand, has a helpful article on how to spot what could be the next big thing. Their first of seven tips is the most helpful: Look for cross-pollinators. The intersection of two disciplines, two enterprises, two hobbies has been the source of new sciences, new marketing methods, new music. Look for those who creatively bring together two otherwise unconnected things.
Clarence Birdseye was a naturalist who took a vacation in Labrador where he saw how frozen fish tasted great when cooked later. As a result he launched not a new science but a whole new food industry.
Then there was the Oxford philologist who invented a language. His Catholicism, love of nature and suspicions of the industrial world, combined with his need to create a history for this language, resulted in what we all know as Middle Earth.
And that is a clue for writers and publishers looking for good book ideas. Look for the creative intersection of typically unrelated fields of thought or enterprise.
Kenneth Bailey combined New Testament studies with a savvy understanding of Middle Eastern peasant culture to bring us Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes. William Struthers combined brain science with the topic of pornography addiction and the result was Wired for Intimacy, a very insightful book on the why and how of a rampant problem.
Yes, we take a chance when pursuing something that's not tried and true. But it just might be the future.