Bright sticks, a new innovation technology

Brightsticks Ideas arrive like kids to a disco.  When adult outfits and fake IDs fail them, they just rush the door, dislodge the bouncer, and come piling in.  The notion seems to be that if they all arrive at once no one can be held accountable or got rid of.  Party! 

So those of us who make our living in the idea biz are required to be quick about it.  Many of us resort to those 3×4 foot pads of "easel" paper for capture.  These are reverently arrayed around the room as if to say, [assume silky voice] "look, we treasure everyone’s contribution."  And then of course we stick yellow post-its on the paper, sometimes then voting with those little colored dots.  Very soon, walls disappear.  The windows are covered.  The sun is blotted out, extinguishing any hope of, er, illumination.

Brain storms work because we almost never consult these sheets of paper,  yellow tabs, or colored dots.  The good ideas are few enough that they can keep them in mind and loosely there.  Paper fixes what should be kept fluid.  Paper gets in the way of the pattern recognition that leaps back and forth between the unconscious and the conscious mins of the individual and then round and round within the  group, as each and all of us press on with selecting, editing, combining, and generating ideas…until illumination does arrive.  A new idea always seems to shine or at least vibrate, or at least carry on like Soul Train dancer.  It is never papery.  It does not come with dots on. Stick em!  There’s no stick em on em! 

If you are sick of the paper-based brain storm, too, I recommend bright sticks.  Mine arrived yesterday, and Pam came home to discover the windows glowing with florescence.  This is a better way of idea capture.  It is faster, more beautiful, and bigger picture.  The thing is you do have to have windows.  But most people have windows.  I mean, unless you’ve been living in a bomb shelter since 1957, and if that’s the case, idea generation is probably not your most pressing need. 

My inspiration was an episode of House, and I think an episode of CSI: New York where glass panels, and not windows, serve as the medium. Certainly, it would be great to have "glassboards" but it looks as if this kind of thing would be expensive and space consuming (see Arount’s white board below).  Mind you, if you were building an office space, glass would, in places, be as easy to install as dry wall.  It is possible to build or buy light boxes, and we have all seen restaurants use these to announce the specials of the day.  The writing glows.  I got my bright sticks from Amazon.  They get them from Office Depot. 


Arount’s white board here.


The Lifehack whiteboard here.

Commercial light boxes here and here.

The Arstechnica openforum discussion (some overlap with Arount, very slow to load!) here.


J Wynia here for an exchange of email on the question.

8 thoughts on “Bright sticks, a new innovation technology

  1. russell

    Yes. Yes. Yes. I’ve always wanted to write on glass. It’s the ultimate TV/movie signifier for smart people doing intricate intellectual work. And I want to be one of them.

    I’m convinced the set designers on CSI/Beautiful Mind etc stole it from movies involving military planning – you know the kind of comm rooms beneath mountains where they track incoming missiles and direct submarines. Good find. I shall be contacting Mr O. Depot forthwith.

  2. Rona

    They sound great – and fun for kids, too – (those little energy bundles whose ideas really gatecrash the adults’ programmes for their education!)

    Probably teachers won’t like them though!

    Are the inks bio-degradable and therefore reasonably green do you know?

  3. Ryan

    I have reason to doubt the inks are “green” in nature. During a 2 year contract employment for the manufacturer of these markers I asked similar questions – all of which were met with a “don’t ask, don’t tell” non-answer.
    My first thoughts afterwords were to promise myself never to use them, which eventually lead to my listing of products I consistantly use that harm the environment – and the ultimate conclusion that harming the environment is unavoidable; unless I withdraw from society. 🙁
    Then ashamed, I would pop the brilliantly-colored cap off the marker, breath in the chemical concocted aroma, and with the brief high – smile in ignorant bliss.

  4. NA

    What do Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind” and Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting” use to write on glass? Does anyone have any idea as to what that pencil-like writing instrument is?

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