Thursday, August 22, 2013

Crisis, She Stimulates

When asked if financial crisis was a distraction or a boom for inspiration, British artist David Hockney said, “inspiration, she never visits the lazy... Crisis, she stimulates.”

Given the level of innovation that has occurred in austere times, Hockney was fairly accurate. Without The Great Depression we would never have experienced the chocolate chip cookie, Monopoly, the car radio or the photocopier!

The oil shocks in the 1970s perhaps led to one of the biggest evolutions in technology in the past 50 years. During this time, the US government invested heavily in military research they hoped would lead to the design of integrated circuit chips small and strong enough to withstand the blast of nuclear weaponry. By the early 1980s, it became clear that these chips could be used to minimize dozens of small appliances, and so came the personal home computer, the Walkman, and the portable phone.

Beyond inventions, times of crisis are boom-times for small goods, like cupcakes, lipsticks, and apps. The basis being that when people can’t justify buying a new car or a new house, they can justify $3 for a treat, or $30 for something that will lift their mood, or a bit more for something to stop themselves feeling like we’re standing still.

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