I read recently that the true father of the internet had died. [Paul Baran, age 84] In the sixties, he took his basic ideas of transmitting information as “data packets” to the big communication companies, which back then was basically AT&T. The AT&T management, both young and old, both technically trained and operational, couldn’t accept the idea. They laughed it off. They were stuck in an analog box in which everything ended when you hung up the phone. Packet technology was radically different. The data was broken into thousands of packets and sent in pieces, but reassembled in their original order at the receiving terminal.
The path to this amazingly efficient and flexible means of moving information over the internet was the product of inital quantum inefficiencies. The first inefficiency was the greatest of all: the inefficiency of thinking differently about how a problem might be solved. Letting your imagination really play with the possibilities, and entertaining the possibility of something so new as to be initally incomprehensible.
But these inefficiencies not are just applicable to great technological or scientific discoveries. They are the essence of every leading edge R &D department or every innovative artist. They are particularly important in human relationships, where bonding and intimacy are the greatest of all inefficiencies. Just being with a person, with no particular agenda, except to enjoy his company, and learn seemingly insignficiant facts about him, is an inefficiency more needed than ever in a rushed, busy, culture like ours.
Find creative ways to be inefficient. Take time to “waste” in ususual ways. Create play in your life, and indulge in silliness. But in all this, know that the madness has method, and may open wonderful opportunities to create something special.