What Can Dots Teach Us About Innovation

Who would have thought that by putting rivets at points of strain of work cloths; denim-we would have created one of the finest pieces of clothing that will forever remain ingrained in our dressing culture. The story of the blue jeans plays at the very heart of innovation.

Man’s best friend is nature. Every day it tries to teach us a thing or two about herself. An attempt to ignore it is like working through a goldmine blindfolded. How we think of nature is subjective but sometimes we just have to find a middle ground.

The point first appeared into our nomenclature through a branch of mathematics called geometry. If geometry was concerned with size, shape and movement, the point represented its most basic entity- the foundation upon which every other thing was built. The point would become universally denoted by a dot and would come to play a crucial role as the building block of life.

What does a mathematical symbol got to teach us about life in general? If a point is a location then there must exist a special relationship between two events leading to the point. It is this specter of life that so defines the point in shaping our lives and actions.

Every day we are faced with myriad of thoughts, and events seem to happen faster than we can recall but these events are points in our life and an attempt to establish a relationship between events often time leads to serendipity and invention. But here lies the twist, humans are not observant and every day we bypass these locations of points in our daily lives, missing countless of opportunity nature and life throws at us.

This famous retail store, Gap, was not as successful as it was when it first started in 1961. Founded by Donald and Doris Fischer, Gap struggled to sell it jeans even with the introduction of Lp records. But when Doris placed ads in local newspapers offering 4 tons of jeans at bargain prices, they were able to sell more than they imagined. The fisher soon discovered a solution to their struggling store; low prize, large selection and advertising targeted at younger age group, they would go on to become one of the most successful clothing retailer in the world. This is a classic story of the Fishers trying to establish a relationship between two events that would eventually lead to the location of a point or rather the solution.

How do we perceive dots?
How do we perceive dots?

The dot is a very difficult concept to define, if we start looking at it like occurrences, we begin to appreciate the dots as a foundation of geometry. It became popular as a mathematical symbol of multiplication by mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz on the 29th of July, 1968. Leibniz would write to John Bernoulli expressing his displeasure with the use of x as a symbol of multiplication which one easily confuses with the independent variable x.

The symbol of dot as a multiplication expression only goes to show the role it plays in nature and our daily lives. From the first growth of the fetus in the womb, to the constellation of stars, to tiny crystals that grow to become mountains, the dot will come to be seen as a universal symbol of growth and productivity.

Domino’s pizza, one of the largest pizza chains in the world has three famous white dots on its logo. Its founder original idea was to use a dot to represent every shop it opens but that would later prove impracticable, as it grew large. Today, domino’s pizza boast of over 10,000 locations in the world, its initial three dots would stand as a powerful representation of its growth over the years.

For over a millennium, scientist, philosophers and scholars has pondered how a symbol so basic would come to define life. The circle has been accepted as the universal symbol of unity and infinity. But when a dot was introduced at the center of the circle, a whole new force was created.

A circle with a dot at the center symbolizing unity.
A circle with a dot at the center symbolizing unity.

To the astrologers, it was a creative spark, to the mystic it was an emotional restraint and the alchemist called it gold. However, it was the symbolism put up by the Buddhist and Hindus that seem to strengthen our argument- a merging of female and male forces which is seen as a general act of productivity and abundance.

According to geometry any two points can be connected by a straight line and for every straight line, there are infinite set of points of the form. What is this mathematical jargon trying to tell us? Throughout life we will be confronted with events and occurrence, it is our duty to connect these events. For every event that occurs there are numbers of events that are strangely connected to it.

Let us take a look at the graph sheet. Every point on a graph has a dependent and independent events, the location of any points on a graph is a solution and gives a relationship. In the mid-19th century, America ate mostly oats for breakfast. One man named John Harvey Kellogg was tired of this meal and wanted to try something different. By toasting corn meal, grinding and baking, J.H Kellogg would produce America first true breakfast; the cornflakes.

In a scatter plot, there is even something interesting happening. Dots scattered on different parts of the graph do not seem to connect but seemed to reveal something, a trend. If by simply linking two or more unrelated occurrences together in life and we can’t find any relation, let us probe deeper, we might have well discovered a trend, which can help us in taking critical actions in the future.

What is the relationship between a book and a perfume? Perhaps none. David H McConnell was struggling to sell his books from door to door, when he noticed a trend. His female clientele preferred the free perfume samples to the books he was selling. David McConnell soon caught up with this trend and Avon was born. Avon has since gone to produce billions of dollars in revenue selling female perfumes.

The life of dots is quite fascinating; it will find its way into every practicable aspect of our lives. Who would have thought that by arranging dots in a particular manner and moving the fingers through raised dots, characters of different sounds could be read. One man, blind from birth saw this relationship and his invention would forever change the way the blind read. Louis Pasteur was able to build special relationship around events in his life, refusing to see these events as independent.

quatum dots 2
Image Source: Google Image

For over a period of time, scientists have long held the view that the property of any material was defined by its chemical reactivity. But crystals of silicon with the size and dimension less than 10 nanometre can dictate how their atoms behave and react in the presence of other things.

This discovery would pave way for the quantum dots or tiny bits of semi-conductor crystals. Scientists believe quantum dots would have great applications in everything from tagging of biological cells, design of efficient solar cells and energy efficient backlight of phones.

The future of the quantum dot is still way ahead in time but scientist believe the dots would prove to be the single most important discovery of the 20th century, only if we just connect the dots.