The Madison Avenue Effect

Imagine a unique creature.

Now, imagine another unique creature. Make this one larger, like an elephant. Make it colorful, like a toucan. Make it smooth, like a frog. Give it a beak.

Imagining the second is a lot easier than the first because the second is familiar. About this big, about this color, etc. Familiarity changes the way we think. Familiar things are ‘more right’.

Here’s how to spot it: “I didn’t know that…”. People have to see it to believe it: Alton Brown in Italy, Richard Thaler saw value theory, Ezra Klein read a blog, and for Marc Andreessen it was Night Rider. For ‘Madison’ it was the movie Splash.

For, The Boy Who Played with Fusion, it was the C.L. Strong and Jearl Walker DIY articles. “When I got a hold of a secondhand CD-ROM collection of those columns, my life changed,” Taylor says. “I realized there were these world-class experiments that cost millions in top laboratories that you could replicate at home.”

The familiar is more accessible. Connections aren’t divine so much as they are historic. Exposure creates creativity seeds. For now we can call this the Madison Avenue Effect.

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