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Google, IBM and Grain.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on April 16, 2006

There’s been lots of buzz about Google’s new name in China—Song of the Grain. Seems lots of Chinese folks have been calling it “gougou” or “dog dog” and Google wanted something spifier.

There is also a great video playing on youTube that features a wild baidu vs. google scene.

I have Andrew Zolli and his Z + partners blog to thank for the video. And thanks to Andrew for this bit of information on “grain” (yes, this is a shaggy dog story). It’s a quote from IBM’s CEO Sam Palmisano at the recent IBM conference in Italy on innovation.

Here goes Sam: “Last year, human beings produced more transistors (and at lower cost) than they did grains of rice.”

Now think about that for a moment. When I was in the Peace Corps in the Philippines, I spent months walking in patty fields, deep in the mud, to help develop higher-yielding grains of rice. In the end, this Green Revolution basically ended starvation in Asia (a predictable and periodic event even when I was a kid). And it did it by creating billions of new grains of rice every year. Yet, still fewer than transistors today. Hmmm…..

Reader Comments

Saul Kaplan

April 17, 2006 7:45 PM

Great image leading to a humble question. If we produce more transistors than grains of rice why is it that we still can't deliver better healthcare, education, public safety, and quality of life to our citizens? At least we knew the rice would feed the hungry. We have more technology then we can absorb and it is us humans and the organizations we live in, both stubbornly resistant to change, that are getting in the way. We need serious R&D for new business models or ways to deliver value if we are to take advantage of all of these transistors. Perhaps design thinking and process can catalyze change in the areas that really matter.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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