Sometimes you run into an idea that seems so ridiculous, you simply have to know more about it – even if it’s just to scoff at idiocy. In most cases, thankfully, that’s where it ends. But in some rare cases, crazy ideas follow a different curve. Allow me to sketch it out: I’m quite obviously no designer, but the y-axis of this graph represents brilliance, the x-axis ridiculousness. Now, on the far left, you’ll notice the curve approaching a horizontal asymptote at 0 – an idea always has a sliver of ridiculousness, just stemming from the fact that we can think of ideas at all. Moving away from there, ideas become less brilliant as they become more ridiculous – up to a certain inflection point, where perceived ridiculousness can suddenly turn into brilliance. I digress. In a recent email announcing the winners of the Dutch Accenture Innovation Awards, which I opened out of sheer post-lunch boredom, the first entry under the category ‘Perfect Cities’ was a startup called Crowbar (Crowded Cities). The description read: ‘A smart machine that trains crows to pick up cigarette butts from the street.’ Right, I thought. But then I thought more. I thought of […]


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