Inspiration in 140 characters

By Laurie Parish | December 9, 2013

I was recently invited to attend the David Bowie display at the Art Gallery of Ontario. A vivid and colorful display of Bowie’s costumes, lyrics, and musical inspirations, I found it extremely fascinating because I’ve been a huge fan of Mr. Bowie since I was just nine years old.

One display that held my steadfast interest was that of software Bowie developed in 1997 on a Mac laptop called the Verbasizer. The Verbasizer was a program that displayed multiple columns across a screen, Bowie could take a sentence, divide it up between the columns and then set it to randomize. Phrases or possible lyrics were then created from the input sentence fragments. What caught my attention most was Bowie talking about how the inspiration from just one random phrase generated by this software could lead him to compose an entire song;

“The top kills himself. That sounds like a boss killing himself, doesn’t it? And all of a sudden I get a vision of a boss in the thirties throwing himself out of a window. You  know? In the great depression! That might be enough to send me off on writing a whole song about that.” Bowie explains.

This made me think about my own creative process. I’m always looking for new ideas and paths to wander down that might support and delight customers.

  • Direct mail
  • Sales programs
  • Emails? Webinars

Even a simple phone conversation!  I realized that my modern day verbasizer is Twitter. I constantly have one eye on my Hootsuite dashboard during the business day. Our social media specialist, Shawna, asked me why I follow so many people on Twitter. Doesn’t the noise bother me? But I answered no, because I can look at my Twitter feed for just 15 minutes and it will result in so many creative ideas and outlets, books to read, and articles to skim over and I don’t want to miss one potential great idea. Perhaps Bowie uses Twitter today for his lyric inspiration instead of the verbasizer? I’d love a chance to ask him if that’s true.

Twitter is how I absorb all sorts of content for educating and serving customers in Customer Success. At any moment my Twitter feed could be scrolling about great customer stories, new codes for bank regulators, most competitive cities in 2025, Freedom Pop offering a free monthly plan for use with your old Sprint phone. It’s a great creative idea machine and it produces new random thoughts constantly as the content being generated is quick and dynamic. It’s food for the ever expanding knowledge base in my head.

Also intriguing is the realization that this content is not being archived anywhere. Sure it can be found in the Twitter sphere but who keeps a record of the tweets made every day in large business environments which might have hundreds of Twitter accounts? How is that content accessible in terms of complete accountability? Our PDF Therapy expert, Rupin, recently spoke about how perhaps this content should also be captured and converted to PDF for storage. I tend to agree. We may be losing valuable historic information.

I also use this process to create Tweets for the Twitter accounts at Adlib Customer Success and my personal account. Like most people I’ve been looking for a practical use for social media and expanding my creative process is one of the best I’ve been able to come up with so far. It likely does this for many people without them even realizing it. As another great pop culture figure, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch says, “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.”

So please follow Adlib Software on Twitter and let us help fuel your next project or idea because you never know where your next aha moment will come from.

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