Often times I look around me an wonder what most people are doing with their lives. Unfortunately, the answer is all too often nothing - too many of my peers let the minutia of living take over their life. Constantly keeping busy with parties, movies, and minor chores to wake years later discovering their footprint in the world is nothing. Depressing.
This biggest reasons I visit art museums is to spark innovation. Artists strive to find and express something new and different - all the time. I'm fortunate enough to live in an area (DC) filled with this. Take a visit to the smithsonian's hirshhorn museum on the national mall and you'll see what I mean. However, recently I found another source of inspiration - certainly the underdog of the monuments in DC: the Patent and Trade Office.
Reading through the documents I feel a deeper connection to the community of great inventors. Some are quite obvious: a referral system by Jeffery Bezos (Amazon.com) other reveal work and great minds I'm utterly unaware of: drawing tools from Michael Birsch (Bebo.com). Utterly unaware of the implication of the invention I take some time to read its proposed innovation. Then, due it it's brilliance, I'm compelled to look up (insert favorite search engine here) the name behind the idea (how I discovered Birsch = bebo = 850 million). To me, patents, more than any other documentation of discovery (ie research paper) represent the pioneering spirit of innovators. It's a set of documents designed for the lay person to understand the idea. And guess what - they're mostly written by people intending to implement the idea. So we can see how the concept comes into this world as a real product, service, or formula that moves the ball (that is industry) forward. It's odd that I missed it for this long - the place where Einstein cut his teeth and the recorded history of the inventions given birth in this country. I can think of no better place to go discover and get inspired to make something new!