What is an idea? It’s an interesting point of discussion. Sometimes you have to work at them, usually when you’ve got a problem and need to find a way around it. Other times they just pop into your head and they seem so innovative and yet somehow so obvious you’ve got to tell people about them. To my mind, the best are when one seemingly unrelated situation is applied to another, to produce a unique and elegant idea.
- My friend Seamus McCauley recently came up with a brilliantly innovative solution to a problem: managing the England team. No one wants to do it, presumably due to the heavy responsibility of carrying the nation’s hopes on one pair of shoulders. Moreover it appears the people who should be able to do it, cannot. So why not divvy it up? Given that MyFootballClub recently purchased Ebsfleet United with the intention of running like a real fantasy football club – that is, harnessing the wisdom of the masses to choose the ultimate team – why not apply the same reasoning to the England team? It would certainly make press briefings more interesting.
- I recently submitted my idea for the Democrabus to the Radio 4 Genius programme. The Democrabus is my solution to public transport. Given that the challenge is to get the greatest number of people closest to where they live, why not combine the least bad method of government – democracy – with the omnibus, and give each passenger left/right voting buttons? As the Democrabus approaches a junction, they vote for the direction they want to take. In the event of a ‘hung bus’, the driver gets the casting vote. I can reveal that I was invited to appear but it was a TV pilot and whereas I’m prepared to make a fool of myself on radio, I’d rather not make an utter fool of myself on national television.
- Finally, an idea in search of a problem. I was playing around with my Sony Ericsson mobile phone the other day, and demonstrated to someone how you can get feedback on them by dialling their number, putting both phones onto speaker mode and pointing them at each other. The results can be quite freaky. Furthermore, Sony Ericssons have lights on them which can be set to the ‘SOS’ dot-dot-dot, dash-dash-dash, dot-dot-dot pattern. So, get a dark room, fill it with hundreds of mobile phones, pair them up, dial the numbers, get the feedback, set the flashes. Hey presto – installation art. It would almost be like an evening in a ‘tech jungle’ with feedback treefrogs and SOS insects. And it would slowly end too as each phone’s battery gave out. You could even have people contributing their phones and turn it into a social art experiment. All I need is to find a mobile phone brand that supports the arts: looks like Sony Ericsson used to but I don’t think they do any more. If anyone is looking for a great mobile-phone based arts sponsorship opportunity, feel free to use this idea…