This book draws together six separate instances of creativity with respect to communication technologies. It puts historical flesh on the process.
We start with the comparatively colorless invention of the Helvetica font in 1957. A Swiss graphic designer named Max Miedinger was commissioned to do the work. His sparse design appealed to artistic sensibilities of that time and the font became the standard.
Next we see the music industry pivot to a new focus on recordings as the Beatles in 1966 quite touring in order to record a new album. Previously, the song had been the draw in the music industry. Now it was recordings by particular singers or groups. In reality, this signaled a permanent shift to values of the entertainment age at the expense of composition.
The sexiest creation of the bunch was surely the camera phone which a Silicon Valley inventor named Philippe Khan invented when his wife was in the hospital delivering a baby girl. Khan wanted a picture of that event so he rigged up a camera on the spot.
YouTube has taken the computer world by storm. Three young men who attended Stanford University around 2002 were its principal developers. One of them, Jawed Karim, shared his experience with an audience including the author in downtown Minneapolis. Karim stressed that the invention itself does not produce success. Really, timing is more important. You need all the right conditions to be in place before something like YouTube can succeed. In its case, there were a number of false starts before the site took off.
Next we have the story of the first computer virus. A 9th grade prankster named Rich Skrenta gave some of his friends infected disks as a practical joke. While this virus did little harm, subsequent ones have done considerable damage.
Finally, we consider “viral” communication on the Internet. This is a video that is widely viewed not because of advertising or promotion but because of unique qualities in the production that appeal to people surfing the Interview. This book gives seven examples of videos that went viral in 2007.