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The art of tech innovation draws from youthful creativity

This week we point the Searchlight on tech innovation, with items about creative thinkers from "idea monkeys" to Pinterest pioneers.

Feeling stressed out today? Maybe you should try sniffing a little burnt sienna. We didn't fact check his science, but graffiti artist Erik Wahl says the smell of Crayola crayons is proven to reduce blood pressure in adults by 10 points. Wahl, the corporate climber turned graffiti artist, might not be the first guy who comes to mind for a motivational chat aimed at rousing tech innovation. As it turns out, if something can connect a room full of IT pros and a freeform artist, it's a universal love for the 64 ct. Crayola box (you know, the really awesome one with the sharpener in the back).

Wahl was the keynote speaker at this week's Gartner Inc. Catalyst conference in San Diego, Calif., doing his darnedest to get a roomful of left-brained techies to remember the joys of creativity they experienced as children. While not calling on the room to abandon their data centers to unleash unsanctioned murals upon the world, he did appeal to them to reconnect with the fecund right brains of their youth. Any type of innovation, including tech innovation, can only be realized when the mind is open, free to create. And that roomful of  techies, we daresay, took Wahl's message to heart, at least for the few moments of the roaring standing ovation. In this week's roundup, we look to keep that excitement about tech innovation rolling with a collection of items about folks who think outside the box -- from "idea monkeys," to respected scientists, to Pinterest pioneers.

  • Failure is a part of innovation, but we bet no one wants to make a personal habit of it. Sometimes innovative people are so brimming with ideas they can't focus on one long enough to see it succeed. Mike Maddock, a self-described "idea monkey" and co-owner of innovation firm Maddock Douglas, writes about why "monkeys" like him need to partner with "ringleaders" to find balance and success.

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  • Never mind whether androids dream of electric sheep -- can technology feel remorse? Tech innovation, for example, killed the wristwatch. (Which of your mobile devices doesn't have a clock/calendar/alarm?) Now, tech innovation is bringing it back.
  • Talk about tech innovation -- or just look at it. This animated infographic shows how far the Internet has come in the last decade. Among the mindboggling numbers: Ten years ago someone with a 56K modem would wait 12.5 minutes (minutes!) to download a song. Today? Eighteen seconds.
  • Creative minds need space to roam, but that space better be up to code. The inhabitants of Silicon Valley's communal techie workspace Hacker Dojo (birthplace of Pinterest) are being forced to focus their innovative minds on raising funds to legalize their digs, lest they face a future of scamming free Wi-Fi at Starbucks.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, Features Writer.

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