Invented 50 years ago in 1963


As we begin 2013 and we wonder what the year will bring, have a thought for what happened 50 years earlier, in 1963 and consider what a momentous year it was.

There were numerous cultural and artistic milestones, most notably the year marked the beginning of the ‘Swinging Sixties’ with the Beatles first number one single Please Please Me on 22nd February, followed by their first album of the same name, beginning their domination of the singles and album charts for the rest of the decade.

But what inventions were made that year? Was anything invented in 1963 that we still use and perhaps take for granted today? There are actually many more than the ten presented here, but I decided that this selection presents us with an interesting mix that help define 1963 as the dawn of the modern world that we find ourselves in today.

So here are 10 surprising inventions from 1963:

1. The Lava Lamp

Doctor Who and the Daleks lava lamp mathmos

Lava Lamps were seen in the Dalek city in the 1965 film ‘Doctor Who and the Daleks’.

The Lava Lamp was invented by British inventor, entrepreneur and eccentric Edward Craven-Walker in 1963 and still manufactured today by his company, Mathmos.

2. The smiley face

The smiley face was invented in 1963 to motivate bored office workers. Harvey Bell was hired by a State Mutual Life Assurance Company to come up with something to make their unhappy employees a little less grumpy. It was originally just the smile, but he realized people could turn it upside down and make a frown, so he added two dots for eyes.

3. Push-button telephone

The first publicly available push-button telephone was released in 1963, by the Bell System. Dials remained the standard method of entering numbers on telephones for another twenty years.

4. Computer mouse

Doug Engelbart invented the computer ‘mouse’ in 1963 in his research lab at SRI International (then Stanford Research Institute), for which the patent was issued in 1970. he basic idea first came to him while sitting in a conference session on computer graphics in 1961. He wondered what would be an efficient and easy way to control a pointer on a graphic display screen. One idea he had was to use small wheels traversing the tabletop, one turning horizontally, one turning vertically, each transmitting their rotation coordinates for analysis. With the wheels mounted in a small wooden box, and a cable connecting the box to the computer, ‘mouse’ was an obvious name for the new device.

5. Instant coffee

Freeze-dried instant coffee was first introduced by Maxwell House in this year.

6. Weight Watchers

Jean Nidetch founded Weight Watchers. Another sign that 1963 was the dawn of our modern world with its wonders and its side effects following post-war austerity.

7. Hypertext

The word “hypertext”, the idea behind a common text based system for linking computer information that led to the internet, was first coined by Ted Nelson in 1963.

8. The Hang-glider

John Dickenson from Australia, invented the modern hang glider.

9. Cassette tapes

They would become the dominant medium for music and computer data in the the 1980s but were first introduced in 1963 (they had been invented the previous year by Philips). Rumour has it that the first four cassette recorders arriving in the UK were given to the Beatles.

10. Doctor Who and the Daleks

The BBC television programme Doctor Who began on 23rd November, the first episode was delayed due to extended news coverage of the assassination of president Kennedy the day before. The first adventure featuring the Daleks began on 21st December.

Many inventions and discoveries, like those here, often take time to catch on, to be fully realised, or in some cases, their significance is not fully known at the time. It reminds us that if we make a discovery, or invent a new product idea or method, we need to try to take that idea as far as we can, to make sure we’re giving it all it needs to make the biggest impact it deserves.

Click here for a similar list of inventions from 1913, 100 years ago and here for inventions from 1912.

Ayd Instone works with people to explore and unlock their creative ideas in ways they may never have thought possible, to inspire innovation in their lives, and their business.

Book Ayd to speak about the Power of ‘What If?’ and Inspiration for Innovation at your conference, or in your business. A great way to open your event or as an after lunch energiser.

For more interesting info see: www.aydinstone.com

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The Memory Cheats?


One of my Dalek drawings, aged 14

Can we trust what we remember? Can we be sure that what we saw is what really happened, or does ‘reality’ not really exist unless we remember it?

Perhaps there is no truth, and no real shared reality. How can we really ever be so sure if there can only ever be our interpretation of it…

There’s a joke amongst fans of the television series Doctor Who that if you want to wind them up all you have to do is say, ‘the memory cheats’.

It’s a phrase that came from the producer of the programme throughout the 1980s, John Nathan Turner, who had the arduous task of updating the programme for the new decade. Some say he made too many changes too fast which gave fandom the idea, for the first time, that the programme ‘wasn’t as good as it used to be’.

Fans cited that the stories were more gripping, the production values higher and the acting better. They claimed the programme in days gone by was grittier, more meaningful, more realistic and more adventurous.

Nathan-Turner’s response to this was that the ‘fans’ who were now a few years older than when they were watching in the mid-seventies as children, were remembering the older episodes as better that they actually were. This was of course very possible and since the old episodes from the 1960s and 70s were never repeated, there was no way to check either way.

What Nathan-Turner had underestimated was that home video revolution was about to begin and shortly after his words were spoken he would find himself having to eat them.

Episodes of Doctor Who from what was now being referred to as its ‘Golden Age’ were fast becoming available for all to see. It was then pretty obvious to all that 1975’s ‘Pyramids of Mars’ with Tom Baker was indeed a better televisual experience all round than 1988’s ‘Silver Nemesis’ with Sylvester McCoy.  By 1989 more people bought the videos of the old stuff than were watching the new stuff on tv and the programme was cancelled by the BBC after 26 years.

John Nathan-Turner died in 2002 and never got to see the massively successful re-launch of the programme in 2005. However the successes and failures of his 10 years as producer were key to making the reborn version a success. Russell T Davis knew that you can’t go back and pander to what we thought was good 30 years ago; the new Doctor Who could not be overly nostalgic or self-consciously retro, it had to appeal to a new audience. But at the same time, with, by 2005 all the existing previous 25 years of the programme out on video, the audience would be able to make a direct comparison with the high water marks of the programme’s past. Davis got the balance right and with an average of nearly 10 million views tuning in each week, Doctor Who continues to be the BBCs most profitable programme and has lasted seven years so far.

But there’s still something about John Nathan-Turner comment, back in the mid eighties that niggles…

When we view the best of the episodes from the 1960s, 70s or 80s, there isn’t really a lot different between them, the production values are fairly consistent across the 26 years. There are a lot of good monsters and a lot of very, very poor monsters in every era of the old show (although there were never wobbly sets as is often insinuated). The main difference between the episodes is that some stories are better than others (and it does appear that there were a larger number of more consistent compelling, gripping stories in certain earlier eras of the programme than the late 1980s.) But it’s only when we compare an episode from the new series with, let’s say the best of the old series that something else, something new becomes apparent. There are notable differences.

Firstly there’s the quality of the picture. Before 2000, most BBC programmes were recorded in an aspect ratio of 4:3, the shape of your old television. Since then all recording has been filmed in widescreen, 16:9, giving a bigger, wider picture. Old programmes look odd sat in a square on a new tv, or get stretched to fill it. Since 2010, the BBCs flagship programmes have been filmed in HD, a higher resolution than the standard broadcast quality used since 1970 when colour was introduced.

The old series was recorded on film (for exterior location scenes) or video (for studio scenes) with multiple cameras. This means that the programmes was effectively filmed in the studio as if it was a play. The actors acted out the story and the director and the vision mixer sat up in the gallery and switched between the many cameras filming the action in the studio below. The old series (as all television drama of the period) has the feel of a live play, it is often slow, the actors voices sound echoey, there are mistakes made and lines fluffed but there are kept in as it would often be too time consuming to reshoot the entire scene.

In the 1960s it was so expensive and time consuming to rewind and re-record video that many mistakes were left in such as Daleks zooming into the set, unable to stop and crashing into the opposite wall of the set. The first Doctor, WIlliam Hartnell played the character as a cantankerous old man, but some of his characteristics weren’t acting as he struggled sometimes to remember lines, most famously saying that the Daleks would destroy a planet leaving it “like a burnt cinder, hanging in Spain….. in space”.

The new series by comparison is filmed just like a cinema motion picture, with one film camera, one shot at a time, with each shot perfected before the next angle is filmed. This gives a very different look to the finished programme.

But perhaps the most obvious and startling difference between the old and new series is the fact that the new series takes advantage of being processed digitally allowing computer effects to be added later. In the old series, almost all effects had to happen right there, live in the studio. It wasn’t until the mid 70s when we actually saw laser beams from Dalek guns or from K9’s nose.

And this is the point where we see how ‘the memory cheats’. So many Doctor Who fans of the programme from the 60s and 70s would swear that they’s seen laser beams from Dalek guns as far back as 1964, but they’d be wrong. The story implied a better reality than was actually there.

On New Years Day, 1972, the Daleks appeared on television for the first time in colour, in a new Doctor Who adventure, The Day of the Daleks. This story was recently used as an example by physiologists looking into to concept of memory and how it works.

Dalek drawing

One of my Dalek drawings, aged 13

At the climax of the story, the Daleks invade Earth, coming out of a railway tunnel, flanked by their ogre-like warriors the Ogrons. They march slowly forward, firing their weapons at the UNIT solders who are defending a large country house, protecting a politician the Daleks have come to exterminate.

What’s obvious to us now, watching 40 years later is that there are only three Daleks in this ‘assault’. There are flashes and bangs of live explosives, but no laser beams. And yet the memory of those that watched, aged 5 to 10 distinctly remember seeing the most exciting invasion force they could possibly imagine.

What this highlights is a number of interesting insights into how memory works and how it, in some ways does ‘cheat’.

When we see events, we don’t record them in memory. What we remember is snapshots of images and emotions where those images and emotions have meaning and significance to us. So a child watching in 1972 would remember the exciting bits with the Daleks but not the boring bits with the politicians at UNIT HQ.

But since the programme consisted of four 25 minute episodes broadcast over four weeks and never seen again, the child’s re-imagining of what they thought they’d remembered becomes part of the memory. At that time, there were few books and magazines about Doctor Who so any reference such as in the Radio Times (Day of the Daleks was heralded with an exciting illustration on the front cover) would have been memorable and that would have been incorporated into the memory of the events. As too would be the novelisation of the story, published a few years later which differed in many respects to the broadcast story (it could afford to many more than just three Daleks in the final scene). This is known as ‘blended memory’ where various sources are mixed together to form what appears to be a single memory.

So was John Nathan-Turner was right all along? The memory does ‘cheat’ in a way. What it shows it that a compelling story can act as a trigger or seed for the imagination which will them embellishes it to form a more exciting and memorable memory worth remembering.

Most people today tend to live ‘literal’ lives, hell bent on thinking that there is one ‘truth’ and that there is only one all-encompassing meaning to everything. Most people are reductionist and anti-paradoxical, searching for and expecting cold facts, thinking that bare logic is better than personal meaning and experiential significance. I believe they are wrong.

I’ve used Doctor Who as an example here, because it’s a clear example for me to explain, but I could have used anything that creates memory and fires imagination such as football, religion or music, all of which are enveloped in magic, myth and paradox.

Is Doctor Who and the Day of the Daleks an irrelevant, old-fashioned, poorly produced an conceived children’s programme that is as corny and unbelievable as it is boring? Or is it an exiting adventure about the dangers of time travel, the nature of terrorism and freedom fighters, and the fear of totalitarianism?

It is of course both and neither depending on its personal connection to your imagination (as with everything). The memory doesn’t ‘cheat’ at all – it creates our reality from the meaning and significance of the events that happen to us.

We need to face the fact that there is no truth, and no real shared reality except the ones we create which are always slightly different from each other. How can anyone of us every be so sure that we’ve got it right when there can only ever be our own interpretation of reality. Perhaps if we realised this and accepted it, just maybe we’d all get along just a bit better.

Ayd Instone works with people to explore and unlock their creative ideas in ways they may never have thought possible, to inspire innovation in their lives, and their business.

Book Ayd to speak about the Power of ‘What If?’ and Inspiration for Innovation at your conference, or in your business. A great way to open your event or as an after lunch energiser.

For more interesting info see: www.aydinstone.com


How I was labelled ‘sick’ by some school kids



boba fett star wars comics

My comics from aged 10 (left) to age 13 (right)

(click on any of the drawings to make them bigger)

“But they’re amazing”

“Totally sick”*

I’d shown a group of fifty 14 years olds my comic strip drawings from when I was 12 from Doctor Who and Star Wars (more here). I delivered four sessions that day, to batches of fifty pupils each time and got the same reaction from each.

They seemed to think the drawings were pretty good even before I told them they were done by a 12 year old. I then told them that by the time I was their age I’d given up on wanting to be a comic strip artist. You can see my final drawings, done aged 15, below.

“But why? You’re really good.” they said.

Daleks Cyberman

Drawings of a Dalek and a Cyberman, by me aged 13

I told them it was because I didn’t think I was good enough. I’d compared myself with the professionals and felt I obviously didn’t have the talent so I gave up. I told them how I’d gone down a different route that was less frowned on by parents and teachers but was not my real passion. (For the full story, click here.)

“But all you had to do was keep at it.”

“You just needed to keep practicing” they said.

They had got the message. The previous exercise I’d done with them to write down what they really enjoyed doing, just three things they were passionate about suddenly made more sense.

Dalek Masterplan

My drawing of a Dalek, done aged 15

“But I like horseriding. How can I make a living from horseriding without doing racing?” said one girl. The girls next to her reeled off a list of horse related ways she could live a life of horseriding and make money.

That’s what my session is really about. Getting the students to realise that there already is something they can be inspired about. That their creativity can help them imagine a better, more worthwhile future right now, even when they’re constrained in the restriction of having to keep their heads down and focus on GCSEs.

In fact, a student who is inspired about their worth, about future plans and understands that the life they might like to lead can actually be theirs with application of time and energy (rather than abstract talent they may think they don’t have) does better in school right now, getting better grades as a result.

K9 from Doctor Who

My last drawing, of K9, my me aged 15. I didn't draw again until I was 23.

Unprompted, two students separately gave me a great testimonial (which I’ve actually had before a number of times):

“You’re like Willy Wonka. Not the new one, the original one.”

I’m very happy with that. It’s spot on. Do you remember the song?

“Come with me and you’ll see a world of pure imagination. Living there you’ll be free, if you truly want to be.”


For more see:
www.aydinstone.com
www.sunmakers.co.uk

Do you have contacts in schools who may like to bring in external speakers to inspire the students and get better results from them? If you do, please let me know.

In addition to me and my creative thinking sessions I have some great colleagues who cover a range of topics that inspire, improve and educate students in topics that schools don’t have the resources to tackle internally.

Please do pass this list onto the schools you’re in touch with.

Dave Hyner

Dave Hyner

Dave Hyner is the Rhino man of massive goal setting and personal achievement in schools. He runs teacher and parent workshops too to get the messages of how to achieve more and better get embedded. www.stretchdevelopment.com

Angela Whitlock

Angela Whitlock

Best-selling author Peter Roper delivers sessions on ‘natural’ presentations skills, how to speak in public with confidence in your own style. Best suited for 16-18 year olds. www.positiveground.co.uk

Angela Whitlock is an expert coach in communication skills, improving students, teachers and parents emotional resilience, often working one-to-one with parents and children to help connect them to their future. www.angelawhitlock.com

Miguel Dean unlocks learning potential for disadvantaged youngsters, especially those experiencing homelessness. www.migueldean.co.uk

Chris Matthewman

Chris Matthewman

Chris Matthewman is a comedian and self-proclaimed expert at all things to do with love and relationships which he presents as a highly entertaining and thought provoking ‘stand up comedy for schools’ show. Especially suited for PSHE and 6th forms. www.chrismattewman.com

James Burch inspires 15-19 year olds after overcoming challenges and adversity developed from been knocked down by a hit and run drunk driver to now creating the best out of every situation and help teenagers reach new levels in life.

Nigel Vardy

Nigel Vardy

Nigel Vardy survived temperatures of -60C in 1999, losing his fingers, toes and nose to severe frostbite on Mt. McKinley in Alaska.  Regardless of that, he still climbs internationally and has tackled some if the worlds toughest mountains. He talks about overcoming adversity and project management, guaranteeing to give pupils a huge dose of reality. www.nigelvardy.com

Paul Kerfoot, aka ‘The Bulletman’ is a creative director and award winning designer who has a session where the pupils (usually aged 14-16) create their own comic-book style superhero exploring themes of imagination and confidence. www.paulthebulletman.com

Michael-Don Smith helps pupils create a success mind style using his NLP for Young Mind s programmes. www.mindstyle.co.uk

Barry Jackson gives pupils interview skills to prepare them for the world of work and help them to be memorable in front of an employer.

Penny Mallory

Penny Mallory

Penny Mallory delivers a knockout 2 hour workshop to Year 9-11 students based on her experience as a homeless teenager turned rally driver and TV presenter – a high impact presentation that inspires students to achieve their maximum potential. www.motivatingstudents.co.uk

Lee Jackson talks about motivation and relationships at school. His fantastic and original new book ‘How to be Sick at School’ written for pupils, taps into what makes the children want to listen to the message to achieve more. www.howtobesickatschool.com

* I’d only recently learnt from Lee Jackson that this word is used where previous generations would have used ‘wicked’, ‘bad’, ‘skill’ or ‘cool’.

Talent: How we were ripped off and gave up on our dreams


There’s a 52 year old man who claims he invented a character called Davros, creator of the Daleks in BBC TV’s Doctor Who, for a magazine competition in 1972, when he was 13. He said he was shocked to see his ‘idea’ appear on television in 1975. You can read the unlikely story here.

Ayd Instone comic strip Daleks K9 Quarks Doctor Who

Dalek comic strip, drawn by me, aged 12

It reminded me that when I was 12, I too was drawing pictures of characters from Doctor Who and in one comic strip I envisaged Davros being given Emperor of the Daleks status and having a spherical top mounted on his base. This was in 1983 and yet it’s exactly what the BBC did on television in 1988. I won’t be making a fuss.

But for a bit of fun I posted the page of my comic strip on the Doctor Who forum.

A couple of people on the forum said it was a pretty good effort. It was only then that I realised that that was the first time anyone had said anything complimentary about my drawings. That was not surprising since this was the first moment I’d actually showed them to anyone. Why hadn’t I showed anyone before? Because of the killer reason that people don’t reach their potential.

Because I didn’t really think they were really any good.

It was one of my early dreams: to be a comic book artist. But I abandoned it aged 14. Why? Because looking at my drawings I was frustrated that they didn’t look as good as my heroes Ron Turner, Dave Gibbons and Frank Hampson.

I didn’t have much encouragement. Part of the reason for that is linked to what John Lennon’s Aunt Mimi said to him when he started the Beatles, “A guitar’s all right John, but you can’t make a living out of it”. The understanding of career options by those who offered it to us then and even more so those who offer it to the children of today is frighteningly narrow, short sighted and past-focused. My parents knew you could make a living from being Constable or Lowry – that was proper art. But comic books? Graphic design? That was childish nonsense. And in my case the working class ethic coupled with St Paul (I Corinthians 13 v11), “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” meant that I had to grow up and do something sensible.

Reluctantly I did, for a while. Did you?

Those two comments on the forum made me think, 18 years later, that compared to the average 12 year old’s drawings, mine were pretty good. The actual story was a pretty good idea too, re-reading it now without the self criticism of the past.

Davros Daleks comic strip Doctor Who Emperor

My vision for Davros, from 1983

So why did I give up? Because when I was 12 I thought that it was talent that counted. I thought that if I was a truly talented illustrator I should be able to do it better than I this. I didn’t know that it was actually practice that made a great comic book artist. I’d been doing it since I was at nursery (and still have the drawings to prove it). I already had hundreds of hours of practice which is why I was pretty good by 1983.

If I’d continued with the same intensity from aged 12 for ten years by the time I was 22 I would have been pretty good, if not world class. That’s not a boast, that is just how it works. If you continually work at a process, constantly failing and improving, making mistakes and modifying, you get better and better. Instead, I’m not really much better now than I was then, which was just above average for a 12 year old but just about average for my age now.

You just look at someone you know who is good at something, be it writing, football, debating, maths, cooking, whatever. You study them and see how much time they have spend doing the thing that they are good at.

Someone once said to Yehudi Menuhi, “I’d give my life to be able to play like you”. “I did” was the maestro’s reply.

Here’s the formula for talent (also called more accurately ‘excellence’):

Talent = desire + intense practice

When it comes to our children we have to realise we can’t make them interested in something they’re not. They have to choose what excites them. And if it’s something we have no knowledge or interest in we have to accept it.

We can’t make them practice. If we do they will grow resentful or burn out and lose interest.

But there is something big that we can do. That formula is not compete. There are two further conditions that we need to add that are in our remit:

Talent = desire + intense practice + opportunity + encouragement

Our job is to make sure we provide the opportunity to try and explore different interests. Our job is to encourage effort when we see an interest developing.

Our job is to make sure that we prevent the child from self criticism of failure as an end and instead help them understand how to modify it into improvement.

Through a series of misunderstandings about talent, how the brain works and what motivates people, our society is set up to manufacture regret, resentment, guilt and self-loathing.

What was your desire when you were much younger?

What did you give up on because of criticism or lack of encouragement?

Perhaps it’s not too late for you to pick up the paintbrush again, to kick the ball again, to write that book, to take that course, or to pick up that ‘how to’ book. Perhaps you can re-ignite your passion and build it into your life today?

By thinking over what you did right and where you went wrong, who could you inspire today to follow their dreams?

For more see:
www.aydinstone.com
www.sunmakers.co.uk

Do you employ drones or a creative strategists?


Dalek new paradigm blue strategist

Dalek Strategist

There are two types of people: creative people and non-creative people. They are not born that way, they decide to be that way. Sometimes they behave in one way in a certain situation, say being a monotonous drone at work and yet a creative genius at the weekend on the sports field or with the children.

The problem in most businesses is that they may say they want creativity and creative people working for them but what they manifest is mindless monotonous drones.

Creative people in business do not sit there doodling or daydreaming (but if they do you can bet they’re onto some big idea). Creative people innovate better ways of doing things. They naturally follow the path of progress. They can’t help making things more interesting. When channeled, these attributes always lead to increased profits.

Dalek new paradigm red drone

Dalek Drone

 

If you have sales people: they need to be creative sales people because they need to create new relationships and create new sales opportunities.

Sales Drones do not create new sales opportunities. neither do they know how to up-sell new offerings to existing customers.

If you have administration people: they need to be creative administration people. They’re job is to make things work smoothly and there are always problems they need to resolve and there are always processes that can be made better.

Admin Drones just do filing.

If you have managers they need to be creative managers: handling people and their relationships is a complex task with many factors constantly changing. Motivating people to do their best is a skill that is bespoke for each individual. Problem solving skills and emotional intelligence are needed more than ever in such a role.

Manager Drones annoy good people who then leave and join your competitors.

If you have staff that deal with customers they need to be creative staff who deal with customers. Creating great customer service is the most underdeveloped method of increasing sales and profits. Knowing how to handle problems or how to create value added extras that turn customers into advocates is a creative skill that’s worth its weight in gold.

Service Drones annoy customers who then post on Twitter how bad your service is.

Don’t employ drones, and even more importantly, don’t turn your employees into drones. Good people who get fed up and leave their jobs usually do it because they weren’t appreciated. A great way of getting good people to stay and excel is to allow them to use more of their skills and talents in their role, to have more responsibility for their role.

Research has been done that the amount of perceived self determination within an organisation is directly proportional to increased profits and success of that organisation. Using or converting people into drones is like running your business with everyone having one arm tied behind their back, or chaining employees to a desk (which is exactly what so many companies actually do if you think about it).

I can show you how to turn your drones into productive, inspired creative strategists who not only do a better job with their current role, but are capable of innovating areas around them. Some businesses (and of course most employees) would be offended to have people described as ‘drones’. That may be the case but when the economic climate is more challenging, the risk of drone conversion is even greater. I can show you how to avoid the dangerous slide into drone manufacture, to help you get even more from the good people you have.

Come and see me on www.aydinstone.com

What I did when I was 7 – it’s what I do now



The Adventures of Boba Fett Star Wars

The Adventures of Boba Fett comic book

It’s obvious to me now. Obvious that in the work you do you should build into it what you enjoy doing and what you’re good at. Today I spend my days creating brands and books for experts, giving talks on creativity and branding as well as writing and performing my songs.

But it wasn’t always that way. Or was it? Actually it was. It just took me a long time to realise it.

If you look on my website you’ll see a few of the books I’ve written for sale. But they weren’t my first books. Not by a long way. My first was called ‘Daleks in Vain’ written in 1978 when I was 7. It was bound like a book and had a cover which my teacher showed me how to laminate. I produced my own monthly magazines and created countless comic strips (about Doctor Who or Star Wars, the most extensive saga being the Adventures of Boba Fett). They too were produced as actual books with quizzes, facts, subscription information and dates and prices. I was doing back then what I do now.

English exercise book

My English exercise book with 12/10

I loved writing stories, whether I was tasked by a teacher to write them or not. Two of my English exercise book stories when I was in class 1M were given “12/10 Excellent!” By the teacher. This means just one of two things: either I was a literary genius, or my English teacher wasn’t very good at maths.

By age 12 I’d devoured The Lord of the Rings and was writing my own fantasy stories. Some took the form of those Fighting Fantasy ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books (“do you want to use the potion, turn to page 44” etc). Again, they were produced as complete illustrated books. My industrious work prompted the teacher to write a letter to my parents. It said, “We need to stamp out this indulgence of his with fantasy”.

How many of us have had a (sometimes a well meaning) slight or damning report on our creativity? How many of us have had our creativity and excitement snuffed out, our passion extinguished? I had no further support with my writing and drawing. It was slowly put to one side, deemed by everyone to be an unimportant diversion and a distraction from proper things like Chemistry, Physics and Maths. (Even though I was best at Technical Drawing and Art).

For good or ill I pursued an education in science and by some miracle got a degree in physics and physical science. But just as the degree came to an end, something happened that would change everything as I unwittingly made a decision that would bring my expertise full circle.

I ran for office for the Students’ Union to run the student magazine. Then, it was an 8 page newsletter that 8 people wrote and just about 8 people read. I turned it into a 48 page magazine that had the highest number of student contributors to a student journal before or since. We had 60 student contributing to it in some way each month. I was an editor, a designer, a writer and a performer (I hosted shows, did stand up comedy and performed my songs at events). But the job was about something else. It was really a question of motivation (and I suppose, leadership). I managed to inspire people who would never have got involved in such things to come to my office. “What are you good at?” I’d ask them. “What do you like doing?” One fellow replied that he liked writing poetry. “Great” I said, “You’re the poetry editor” (He went onto become a good friend, my deputy and later on, took the editorship himself.)

TLE the last edition Oasis Definately Maybe Oxford Brookes Students' Union magazine

TLE issue 305, October 1994

A girl came to the office. She said she was interested in bands and music. I knocked up a badge with the magazine logo on it (TLE – The Last Edition) and told her to take it to the Venue and they’ll let her in to review the bands. Take it to the record shops and they’ll give her singles to review. She came back a week later to report that it had worked. She’d done an interview with one of the bands and got some photos. It looked great, although I’d never heard of the band. She said they were going to be huge so we put them on the front cover. The band was Oasis and we had published an exclusive just before they hit the big time.

With that job, which lasted two years, I’d created an Eden, the perfect job where I was using all my skills. When it ended and I had to get a real job, it was a real jolt to the system that I was put in a corner and told to use such a small part of my skills and experience. I counted the days (which amounted to six years) until I had enough nerve to set up on my own and recreate that Eden again.

So here I am, doing the same things I was doing when I was 7. Sometimes we think our dreams are somehow ‘out there’ and distant from us. I’ve realised that mine we here all the time. It just took me such a long time to realise that my hopes, dreams and passions were with me all along.

Are you victim to the voices of decent that have manipulated you into thinking what you should be doing, not what you could be doing? has your creativity been dulled and dumbed down, your passions diverted? Or are you building into your working day who and what you are, what you’re good at, what you enjoy? I hope so.

Drop me a comment with your experience of self re-discovery.

Read more on www.aydinstone.com
www.sunmakers.co.uk

My New Website: Part 5 – My crazy design idea


From the starting point of wanting my website to look like a magazine, I thought about how I could take that idea further. I wanted to come across as unique so what approach would be unique? What if I made it look like a comic rather than a magazine? What if I found a way of breaking down the ‘grid’ structure that every website uses? The comic strips I love the most are by illustrators like Dave Gibbons (Marvel), Frank Bellamy (Dan Dare) and Chris Achilleos (Target Books). But the one that struck me most for inspiration was the work of Ron Turner in the 1960s TV21 comic. The way he broke up the panels to make them non-linear was the perfect visual metaphor for my message, to be reflected on my website.

I plotted out the essential content and started to work out the shapes that I’d use to display the various clickable areas that would visually show the visitor what the website was about.

You can see the sketches below.

The next phase was to get new photography. I wanted photos of me (after all, it’s me the website is selling) but since there was to be so many panels, the photos had to look interesting and dynamic, almost like shots from panels of a photo strip. Working with Haddon Davies at his studio, we came up with a large variety of shots that could be matched up with the uses I had in mind. What I didn’t want is a generic portrait shot, that would have been no use to me. We shot the images on white and black backgrounds to make it easier for me to cut the images out and apply them to a variety of backgrounds. We were also keen to avoid clichés where possible and yet get the balance right between interest, irreverence and professionalism. Everything about my brand needs to capture my uniqueness, and that obviously has to include the photography.

See what you make of the result: www.aydinstone.com


www.sunmakers.co.uk