May 20, 2009

No, It's Not Rocket Science

I attended a presentation recently where the speaker insisted that the system he was selling was technically highly-advanced. When words failed him, he resorted to the ploy of lobbing in an image of Albert Einstein and having the brilliant scientist say it instead.

The only problem was that the system being presented was by no means as advanced as our presenter suggested.

Poor old Albert Einstein.

Look at it from his point of view. You're a thinker who's shifted the world on its axis and grappled with truly complex ideas, yet worked to keep things as simple as possible ("but no simpler"). For your efforts, you've become shorthand for anything faintly scientific and in many cases quite banal. You, or someone who looks very like you, adorn pub-quiz posters, Junior Scientist kits and second-rate presentations.

In many ways, it's great to see such a brilliant mind as a man of the people, but there's a real danger that what you stand for has become devalued by the lazy use of your image to signal 'the science bit' of any pitch that demands a little concentration from the audience.

And that when it's attached to unremarkable technology, it suggests that what follows really isn't rocket-science but something quite ordinary.

Over To You: Which icons have you seen cheapened by being indiscriminately applied to a whole assortment of causes?

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