Thoughts on Success

 I was asked the other day about how to become rich and successful. These are two very different things, but here are some ramblings about enjoying life and becoming successful. So if you want to be rich and successful, there are several key ways to achieve wealth.

1.       Rob or steal

2.       Win a lottery

3.       Marry someone rich

4.       Work for someone (a company) and save, invest, grow your investment

5.       Work for yourself (start a company) and save, invest, grow your investment

 The first option is not recommended. The second has super low odds. The third will probably not create happiness. Remember, money does not bring happiness. Money helps you not have to worry about many things, but does not make life more enriched. 

Number four is good but not the way to achieve high wealth – unless you become a CEO of a company. And you might not be allowed to do what you want working for someone else. Number five is probably the best way to achieve wealth and do what you want. But number five is probably the hardest, but most fulfilling.

So really, it’s either #4 or #5 you need to think about. But to get rich and/or achieve success (they are not the same), you have to focus on an area and become an expert and work very hard (to become an expert and keep moving forward). Though if you really like what you are doing, the work does not feel like work. It is true, I have been there. But if you just take a job for the money, you will not be happy, I have been there, too.

Don’t worry about choosing something to focus on and then later change your mind. You have to try different things to figure out what you like, are good at, etc. Life is really a journey. Think in terms of chapters in a book. But it takes work and lots of it (sorry, kid). Nobody gets ahead with sitting around wishing. Look at the top athletes, movie stars, singers, business people, writers, inventors, comics, etc., they all work their asses off. This is why they became successful. The people who whine and complain about other people’s success or think life is unfair, are just not working hard enough and being lazy. Excuses make people feel good, but do nothing to change the situation. This is all backed up by research, and there are many examples of people who have been amazingly successful but started from the bottom.

Sure, a lot of people get jobs and figure out a way to succeed with working the least. It usually seems like the idiots who become senior executives fit into this category. They game the system and succeed. But that is not really satisfying and they are not usually nice people. Or people just sit around for 30 years in a cube so they can have health insurance when they retire. There are better ways.

You only live once. Yup, it’s a big cliché, but is true. And our lives are short, so make the most of it. For example, if you like kids, then open a school or camp that is the best damn one there is and parents will pay for it. Innovate what a camp should be and what kids (and parents) really want. If you decide to go in this direction (finding something you like and creating something to become successful and happy) you will do something you like that is creative, and you will make a great living and enjoy work and life. The hard part is figuring what that thing is, while trying to block out all the other bullshit and distractions. Put the phone down!

Be patient and don’t rush – this stuff takes time to formulate. But you have to purposely and deliberately think about what you want to do (or try) and be the best at it. And most importantly write it out – doodle, brainstorm, etc. – writing is the best way to make your mind connect things to figure stuff out. Just thinking only works somewhat, you need to get the ideas onto paper to help your brain form solutions. Struggle, pain, failure, discomfort, is the only way to achieve success. Adversity and struggle makes life complete. The best things in life are not easy and really should not be.

How to Create an Innovative Organization

    The global business environment is getting more competitive, technology change is accelerating, and socio-economic changes are changing consumer perceptions and behaviors. Individuals and organizations need to become skilled at developing new, creative ideas and implementing them to create new value. When I speak to groups and ask the audience who works for an innovative organization, only about 15% of attendees raise their hands. We cannot continue with the status quo. It is critical to cultivate an organizational culture which continually improves and develops new products, services, and processes. To create an innovative culture, it MUST start at the very top of the organization.

The following are ten key points that leaders need to adopt to create an innovative organization. Why is an innovative organization important? With all the changes in the world happening at a faster and faster rate, organizations must stay ahead of competitors to attract and retain long-term customers. The way to keep competitors off-balance and continually excite customers is with new ideas. A workforce that uses imagination, creativity, and innovation will evolve, adapt, and succeed. Every part of every organization must continually improve and develop new, creative ways to develop higher value.

Leaders cannot think that investments in innovation will take away from current revenue sources. It is critical to support current business and continually evolve current and future opportunities. The balance between current operations and future innovation is a key part of senior leadership responsibilities. Every part of an organization must continually evolve and focus on the future.

So if you want long-term personal and business success, adopt the following key points. Leaders must lead by example and develop and change themselves, while supporting the entire organization to evolve and grow. So learn how to develop new creative ideas and develop innovative products, services, and processes and create a powerful organization which leads.

  1. A culture of innovation must be led from the top
  2. The leader (e.g., CEO, President) must nurture the culture, long-term – ongoing with continous communication
  3. Encourage everyone to develop new ideas – not just typical “creative” groups (e.g., advertising, marketing, R&D) – experiment and fail
  4. Provide training – adopt a long-term view of training, encourage lifelong learning and skill building
  5. Provide resources to support creativity and innovation
  6. Move away from command-and-control leadership – mentor and coach, provide freedom to experiment and fail
  7. Get close to customers – your and competitor’s
  8. Focus on diversity – age, ethnicity, experience, etc.
  9. Balance freedom and control
  10. Teach everyone how to change and develop new perspectives


Out of Our Minds by Sir Ken Robinson, PhD

Musings from AIME Expo

This past weekend I attended the American International Motorcycle Expo (AIME) at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The yearly event brings together industry, press, dealers, and consumers within the motorcycle and powersports industry. All the major motorcycle OEMs were present as well as vendors from around the globe. There were multiple seminars and demo ride opportunities for dealers and consumers.

AIME kicked-off with various speakers from the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC). The highlight was the keynote speech from retired U.S. Navy SEAL and current Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior, Rick May. May talked about his lifelong passion for motorcycles and the Department of the Interior’s goal to ensure public lands is available for all types of recreation. It was an excellent speech and good news for everyone who wants to enjoy the amazing national parks and land in the U.S. A key theme was to grow the industry by attracting new riders.

The MIC discussed several initiatives to grow ridership in the U.S. Unfortunately; the industry keeps using the same “playbook” to attract new riders; which is not doing a great job to ensure a strong future. A lack of creativity and innovation from the industry leadership once again showed a lack of initiative to move beyond the status quo. Three key areas of growth are sorely missing from most OEM plans; women, Hispanics, and millennials.

The majority of OEMs lack any specific women-focused initiatives to engage this massive segment of the population (almost 50%) that control the majority of the household purchasing decisions. In addition, most OEM websites have no Spanish language options. In addition, marketing continues to focus on features and benefits ignoring lifestyle focus to attract younger buyers to the excitement of powersports.

The AIME Expo began several years ago to offer a new venue for the motorcycle industry to showcase their wares, beyond the traditional International Motorcycle Shows (IMS) that have been yearly events for several decades. Unfortunately the AIME Expo offers nothing truly new or exciting to attract new riders or bring new thinking to the industry. If the MIC and AIME Expo leadership hope to grow the industry, they need to reimagine how to engage with new people (and current riders). Just going to traditional motorsport events will only attract those already interested in this amazing sport and lifestyle. Unfortunately, the future is not looking good.

With Baby Boomers quickly aging out of motorcycling, and fewer new riders entering, the future of the U.S. motorcycling industry does not look good. Japanese OEMs are focused on incremental innovations to existing products and a lack of innovative sales and marketing expertise (most marketing is to impress the bosses back in Japan, not necessarily drive sales). The industry cannot rely on the dealer network to grow the industry; it must come from the industry leaders, the companies that design, manufacture, and market powersport vehicles. The key drivers must be the Japanese OEMs.

Not all segments of the industry are grim, but the long-term picture is not encouraging. To get young people away from electronics, inform them of the fun and excitement of powersport vehicles, and develop innovative methods to make the “cost of entry” easier, major changes need to occur. Unfortunately there is not much good news on this. The Japanese OEM’s arrogance is stuck in the 1990s as Chinese and Indian manufacturers are learning quickly. So what is needed? Here are a few simple ideas.

  1. Ongoing, long-term marketing programs to attract women
  2. Motorcycles with lower seat heights and adjustable suspension
  3. Maintenance-free vehicles, similar to automobiles
  4. Spanish-language options on websites
  5. Continuous, long-term lifestyle promotions (YouTube, celestial TV, school programs, etc.) to excite and inform young consumers and families – English and Spanish
  6. Dedicated riding parks near urban centers

Yes, some are easy, some not so. However, if the Japanese OEMs want to grow the U.S. market they need to change. They need to ensure their liaisons have proper market knowledge as well as marketing understanding prior to being sent to the U.S. on “assignment”. The typical five-year “tour of duty” of senior Japanese leadership needs to end to ensure long-term strategies have time to mature and succeed. In addition, U.S. staff must move beyond the status quo and become truly creative and innovative. A complete overhaul of current mindsets and skills need to change. “It takes a village to raise a child” and enough children are not being raised fast enough. The time is now! If the industry does not want to learn and grow, powersports will slowly disappear as more-and-more people find other recreational activities and adopt ride share and autonomous vehicles. I hope the industry can wake-up and accept the reality.

Time For A Revolution

Yesterday brought more daunting news that the planet is warming faster than previously thought. And unless you live in a cave, the main cause is due to mankind. These warnings have been going on since the late 1970s but we have done mostly nothing to combat potentially catastrophic changes to the planet. Hell, even the U.S. Armed Forces have noted for years that global warming is real and a massive threat to the security of the country. So what are politicians doing to prepare – uh, nothing. They would prefer to support industries that have not evolved to hold onto their positions instead of doing what is right for the country. They are more worried about getting reelected and making obscene amounts of money than doing the right thing.

At a time when both sides of the aisle need to be developing countermeasures, they would rather hold onto to archaic industries that cannot survive – sorry coal. And with the weakening of environmental laws, catastrophe is likely. But you say, hey Dave, what if the scientists are wrong? Who cares if they are wrong, the question is, what if they are right? Did we do nothing as we feared the USSR would attack during the Cold War? No, we built massive amounts of bombs, nuclear shelters, and all sorts of methods to prepare for a potential attack. Guess what, the Soviets were not as strong as we thought, and politics won out over conflict. We need to use the same mindset as we deal with global warming and the weakening of the US.

But guess what, until we start doing something ourselves, the politicians will do nothing but deny. They are more worried about themselves than the country. For those who feel global warming is a myth, they can still do something to combat it, while keeping their egos intact. As China and India will soon overtake us in terms of technology and science, and all other sorts of industry to dominate the next century, the US needs to wake up and realize the good ole days are behind us. We have to get back to our roots.

A powerful national policy to combat global warming can ensure the next generations live in a clean and safe world, with excellent jobs and a continued level of prosperity. The US desperately needs a national policy to fix the crumbling infrastructure within the country and reform education. Why not use this as a great way to “sneak in” plans to combat global warming and invent new sources of power to move beyond fossil fuels? When the US faced massive challenges in the past, we rallied and did what was needed and came out stronger. We provided a great example for the rest of the world.

We cannot outsource our technology and science and future to other countries. We cannot close our borders and stop the world’s best from wanting to come to America. We must ensure our future is developed inside our borders. This can only be accomplished with a massive improvement in education, basic research, and a willingness to accept short-term pain for long-term survival. We cannot keep doing the same things and expect different results. Throughout history great empires fall, and unfortunately the US is on this path, not to mention the entire planet due to climate change (if the terms “global warming” is a key issue to getting people to wake-up, then let’s stop using it).

So how about we raise the gas tax and income tax for the wealthy? How about we freeze increases in military spending? How about we stop providing incentives to archaic industries that do not evolve? I am not an economist, so I will leave the details to them. But we must do something and it must start with every single person in the US. We all must take responsibility to develop new ideas and solutions to improve the world around us. Take a look at Singapore and China – they are setting the foundation for long-term growth and success, while we demonize scientists, push out immigrants, and prepare our children for the wrong future.

The US is stuck in petty squabbles, hiding our head in the sand, idolizing Wall Street, and a fascination with celebrities rather than scientists. And on top of this, we are becoming weak. Not militarily, but as people. We do not value hard work and patience to achieve things. We would rather stare at our phones and watch mindless videos. Yes, this sounds like a grumbling old man, but this is the truth. There are some bright spots, but overall our future is not looking good. Sacrifice, hard work, education, and science is what made this country great. We have to get back to our roots.

Yesterday economist Paul Romer won the Nobel Prize. Romer’s work is centered on new ideas – developed through technology, patents, and competition – for sustainable long-term economic growth.  His “endogenous growth theory” is about the power of people and their ideas. As Romer said, “the more we know, the easier it is to discover.” As Romer states (and I fully agree), many of the world’s most pressing problems can be solved quickly with strong policies, that “champion research and development, pay people for good ideas, provide decent education for all, and maintain well-regulated, competitive markets for goods and services.” Sounds like the formula that got us here.

What the US did during and after WWII was anything but miraculous. In a little over four years, we created new industries, developed the Manhattan Project, and instituted the Marshall Plan. These were massive undertakings which we did quickly. It was hard, but we did it. We sacrificed for the betterment of everyone.

So it is time to act and push our politicians to do something, NOW. Not later, NOW. There is no time to waste. Every one of us needs to step forward and help. My small part will be to help educate individuals and organizations on how to develop new ideas and innovative solutions. The rest of my time on this globe will be to ensure the next generations are continuously improving the world around them and becoming better global citizens. So ignore all the negativity and hate. There is so much good going on, we need to focus on that and start innovating. The challenge is now, what will you do?



As We May Think

The following article was first published in the July 1945 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. The author, Dr. Vannevar Bush discusses innovation and basically defines the internet.

This has not been a scientist’s war; it has been a war in which all have had a part. The scientists, burying their old professional competition in the demand of a common cause, have shared greatly and learned much. It has been exhilarating to work in effective partnership. Now, for many, this appears to be approaching an end. What are the scientists to do next?

For the biologists, and particularly for the medical scientists, there can be little indecision, for their war work has hardly required them to leave the old paths. Many indeed have been able to carry on their war research in their familiar peacetime laboratories. Their objectives remain much the same.

It is the physicists who have been thrown most violently off stride, who have left academic pursuits for the making of strange destructive gadgets, who have had to devise new methods for their unanticipated assignments. They have done their part on the devices that made it possible to turn back the enemy. They have worked in combined effort with the physicists of our allies. They have felt within themselves the stir of achievement. They have been part of a great team. Now, as peace approaches, one asks where they will find objectives worthy of their best.


Of what lasting benefit has been man’s use of science and of the new instruments which his research brought into existence? First, they have increased his control of his material environment. They have improved his food, his clothing, his shelter; they have increased his security and released him partly from the bondage of bare existence. They have given him increased knowledge of his own biological processes so that he has had a progressive freedom from disease and an increased span of life. They are illuminating the interactions of his physiological and psychological functions, giving the promise of an improved mental health.

Science has provided the swiftest communication between individuals; it has provided a record of ideas and has enabled man to manipulate and to make extracts from that record so that knowledge evolves and endures throughout the life of a race rather than that of an individual.

There is a growing mountain of research. But there is increased evidence that we are being bogged down today as specialization extends. The investigator is staggered by the findings and conclusions of thousands of other workers – conclusions which he cannot find time to grasp, much less to remember, as they appear. Yet specialization becomes increasingly necessary for progress, and the effort to bridge between disciplines is correspondingly superficial.

Professionally our methods of transmitting and reviewing the results of research are generations old and by now are totally inadequate for their purpose. If the aggregate time spent in writing scholarly works and in reading them could be evaluated, the ratio between these amounts of time might well be startling.

Those who conscientiously attempt to keep abreast of current thought, even in restricted fields, by close and continuous reading might well shy away from an examination calculated to show how much of the previous month’s efforts could be produced on call. Mendel’s concept of the laws of genetics was lost to the world for a generation because his publication did not reach the few who were capable of grasping and extending it; and this sort of catastrophe is undoubtedly being repeated all about us, as truly significant attainments become lost in the mass of the inconsequential.

The difficulty seems to be, not so much that we publish unduly in view of the extent and variety of present-day interests, but rather that publication has been extended far beyond our present ability to make real use of the record. The summation of human experience us being expanded at a prodigious rate, and the means we use for threading through the consequent maze to the momentarily important item is the same as was used in the days of square-rigged ships.

But there are signs of a change as new and powerful instrumentalities come into use. Photocells capable of seeing things in a physical sense, advanced photography which can record what is seen or even what is not, thermionic tubes capable of controlling potent forces under the guidance of less power than a mosquito uses to vibrate his wings, cathode ray tubes rendering visible an occurrence so brief that by comparison a microsecond is a long time, relay combinations which will carry out involved sequences of movements more reliably than any human operator and thousands of times as fast – there are plenty of mechanical aids with which to effect a transformation in scientific records.

Two centuries ago Leibnitz invented a calculating machine which embodied most of the essential features of recent keyboard devices, but it could not then come into use. The economics of the situation were against it: the labor involved in constructing it, before the days of mass production, exceeded the labor to be saved by its use, since all it could accomplish could be duplicated by sufficient use of pencil and paper.

Moreover, it would have been subject to frequent breakdown, so that it could not have been depended upon; for at that time and long after, complexity and unreliability were synonymous.

Babbage, even with remarkably generous support for his time, could not produce his great arithmetical machine. His idea was sound enough, but construction and maintenance costs were then too heavy. Had a Pharaoh been given detailed and explicit designs of an automobile, and had he understood them completely, it would have taxed the resources of his kingdom to have fashioned the thousands of parts for a single car, and that car would have broken down on the first trip to Giza.

Machines with interchangeable parts can now be constructed with great economy of effort. In spite of much complexity, they perform reliably. Witness the humble typewriter, or the movie camera, or the automobile. Electrical contacts have ceased to stick when thoroughly understood. Note the automatic telephone exchange, which has hundred of thousands of such contacts, and yet is reliable. A spider web of metal, sealed in a thin glass container, a wire heated to brilliant glow, in short, the thermionic tube of radio sets, is made by the hundred million, tossed about in packages, plugged into sockets – and it works!

Its gossamer parts, the precise location and alignment involved in its construction, would have occupied a master craftsman of the guild for months; now it is built for thirty cents. The world has arrived at an age of cheap complex devices of great reliability; and something is bound to come of it.


A record, if it is to be useful to science, must be continuously extended, it must be stored, and above all it must be consulted. Today we make the record conventionally by writing and photography, followed by printing; but we also record on film, on wax disks, and on magnetic wires. Even if utterly new recording procedures do not appear, these present ones are certainly in the process of modification and extension.

Certainly progress in photography is not going to stop. Faster material and lenses, more automatic cameras, finer-grained sensitive compounds to allow an extension of the minicamera idea, are all imminent. Let us project this trend ahead to a logical, if not inevitable, outcome. The camera hound of the future wears on his forehead a lump a little larger than a walnut. It takes pictures 3 millimeters square, later to be projected or enlarged, which after all involves only a factor of 10 beyond present practice. The lens is of universal focus, down to any distance accommodated by the unaided eye, simply because it is of short focal length. There is a built-in photocell on the walnut such as we now have on at least one camera, which automatically adjusts exposure for a wide range of illumination. There is film in the walnut for a hundred exposure, and the spring for operating its shutter and shifting its film is wound once for all when the film clip is inserted. It produces its result in full color. It may well be stereoscopic, and record with spaced glass eyes, for striking improvements in stereoscopic technique are just around the corner.

The cord which trips its shutter may reach down a man’s sleeve within easy reach of his fingers. A quick squeeze, and the picture is taken. On a pair of ordinary glasses is a square of fine lines near the top of one lens, where it is out of the way of ordinary vision. When an object appears in that square, it is lined up for its picture. As the scientist of the future moves about the laboratory or the field, every time he looks at something worthy of the record, he trips the shutter and in it goes, without even an audible click. Is this all fantastic? The only fantastic thing about it is the idea of making as many pictures as would result from its use.

Will there be dry photography? It is already here in two forms. When Brady made his Civil War pictures, the plate had to be wet at the time of exposure. Now it has to be wet during development instead. In the future perhaps it need not be wetted at all. There have long been films impregnated with diazo dyes which form a picture without development, so that it is already there as soon as the camera has been operated.

An exposure to ammonia gas destroys the unexposed dye, and the picture can then be taken out into the light and examined. The process is now slow, but someone may speed it up, and it has no grain difficulties such as now keep photographic researchers busy. Often it would be advantageous to be able to snap the camera and to look at the picture immediately.

Another process now is use is also slow, and more or less clumsy. For fifty years impregnated papers have been used which turn dark at every point where an electrical contact touches them, by reason of the chemical change thus produced in an iodine compound included in the paper. They have been used to make records, for a pointer moving across them can leave a trail behind. If the electrical potential on the pointer is varied as it moves, the line becomes light or dark in accordance with the potential.

This scheme is now used in facsimile transmission. The pointer draws a set of closely spaced lines across the paper one after another. As it moves, its potential is varied in accordance with a varying current received over wires from a distant station, where these variations are produced by a photocell which is similarly scanning a picture. At every instant the darkness of the line being drawn is made equal to the darkness of the point on the picture being observed by the photocell. Thus, when the whole picture has been covered, a replica appears at the receiving end.

A scene itself can be just as well looked over line by line by the photocell in this way as can a photograph of the scene. This whole apparatus constitutes a camera, with the added feature, which can be dispensed with if desired, of making its picture at a distance. It is slow, and the picture is poor in detail. Still, it does give another process of dry photography, in which the picture is finished as soon as it is taken.

It would be a brave man who could predict that such a process will always remain clumsy, slow, and faulty in detail. Television equipment today transmits sixteen reasonably good images a second, and it involves only two essential differences from the process described above. For one, the record is made by a moving beam of electrons rather than a moving pointer, for the reason that an electron beam can sweep across the picture very rapidly indeed. The other difference involves merely the use of a screen which glows momentarily when the electrons hit, rather than a chemically treated paper or film which is permanently altered. This speed is necessary in television, for motion pictures rather than stills are the object.

Use chemically treated film in place of the glowing screen, allow the apparatus to transmit one picture rather than a succession, and a rapid camera for dry photography results. The treated film needs to be far faster in action than present examples, but it probably could be. More serious is the objection that this scheme would involve putting the film inside a vacuum chamber, for electron beams behave normally only in such a rarefied environment. This difficulty could be avoided by allowing the electron beam to play on one side of a partition, and by pressing the film against the other side, if this partition were such as to allow the electrons to go through perpendicular to its surface, and to prevent them from spreading out sideways. Such partitions, in crude form, could certainly be constructed, and they will hardly hold up the general development.

Like dry photography, microphotography still has a long way to go. The basic scheme of reducing the size of the record, and examining it by projection rather than directly, has possibilities too great to be ignored. The combination of optical projection and photographic reduction is already producing some results in microfilm for scholarly purposes, and the potentialities are highly suggestive. Today, with microfilm, reductions by a linear factor of 20 can be employed and still produce full clarity when the material is re-enlarged for examination. The limits are set by the graininess of the film, the excellence of the optical system, and the efficiency of the light sources employed. All of these are rapidly improving.

Assume a linear ratio of 100 for future use. Consider film of the same thickness as paper, although thinner film will certainly be usable. Even under these conditions there would be a total factor of 10,000 between the bulk of the ordinary record on books, and its microfilm replica. The Encyclopoedia Britannica could be reduced to the volume of a matchbox. A library of a million volumes could be compressed into one end of a desk. If the human race has produced since the invention of movable type a total record, in the form of magazines, newspapers, books, tracts, advertising blurbs, correspondence, having a volume corresponding to a billion books, the whole affair, assembled and compressed, could be lugged off in a moving van. Mere compression, of course, is not enough; one needs not only to make and store a record but also to be able to consult it, and this aspect of the matter comes later. Even the modern great library is not generally consulted; it is nibbled by a few.

Compression is important, however, when it comes to costs. The material for the microfilm Britannica would cost a nickel, and it could be mailed anywhere for a cent. What would it cost to print a million copies? To print a sheet of newspaper, in a large edition, costs a small fraction of a cent. The entire material of the Britannica in reduced microfilm form would go on a sheet eight and one-half by eleven inches. Once it is available, with the photographic reproduction methods of the future, duplicates in large quantities could probably be turned out for a cent apiece beyond the cost of materials. The preparation of the original copy? That introduces the next aspect of the subject.


To make the record, we now push a pencil or tap a typewriter. Then comes the process of digestion and correction, followed by an intricate process of typesetting, printing, and distribution. To consider the first stage of the procedure, will the author of the future cease writing by hand or typewriter and talk directly to the record? He does so indirectly, by talking to a stenographer or a wax cylinder; but the elements are all present if he wishes to have his talk directly produce a typed record. All he needs to do us to take advantage of existing mechanisms and to alter his language.

At a recent World Fair a machine called a Voder was shown. A girl stroked its keys and it emitted recognizable speech. No human vocal cords entered in the procedure at any point; the keys simply combined some electrically produced vibrations and passed these on to a loud-speaker. In the Bell Laboratories there is the converse of this machine, called a Vocoder. The loudspeaker is replaced by a microphone, which picks up sound. Speak to it, and the corresponding keys move. This may be one element of the postulated system.

The other element is found in the stenotype, that somewhat disconcerting device encountered usually at public meetings. A girl strokes its keys languidly and looks about the room and sometimes at the speaker with a disquieting gaze. From it emerges a typed strip which records in a phonetically simplified language a record of what the speaker is supposed to have said. Later this strip is retyped into ordinary language, for in its nascent form it is intelligible only to the initiated. Combine these two elements, let the Vocoder run the stenotype, and the result is a machine which types when talked to.

Our present languages are not especially adapted to this sort of mechanization, it is true. It is strange that the inventors of universal languages have not seized upon the idea of producing one which better fitted the technique for transmitting and recording speech. Mechanization may yet force the issue, especially in the scientific field; whereupon scientific jargon would become still less intelligible to the layman.

One can now picture a future investigator in his laboratory. His hands are free, and he is not anchored. As he moves about and observes, he photographs and comments. Time is automatically recorded to tie the two records together. If he goes into the field, he may be connected by radio to his recorder. As he ponders over his notes in the evening, he again talks his comments into the record. His typed record, as well as his photographs, may both be in miniature, so that he projects them for examination.

Much needs to occur, however, between the collection of data and observations, the extraction of parallel material from the existing record, and the final insertion of new material into the general body of the common record. For mature thought there is no mechanical substitute. But creative thought and essentially repetitive thought are very different things. For the latter there are, and may be, powerful mechanical aids.

Adding a column of figures is a repetitive thought process, and it was long ago properly relegated to the machine. True, the machine is sometimes controlled by the keyboard, and thought of a sort enters in reading the figures and poking the corresponding keys, but even this is avoidable. Machines have been made which will read typed figures by photocells and then depress the corresponding keys; these are combinations of photocells for scanning the type, electric circuits for sorting the consequent variations, and relay circuits for interpreting the result into the action of solenoids to pull the keys down.

All this complication is needed because of the clumsy way in which we have learned to write figures. If we recorded them positionally, simply by the configuration of a set of dots on a card, the automatic reading mechanism would become comparatively simple. In fact, if the dots are holes, we have the punched-card machine long ago produced by Hollorith for the purposes of the census, and now used throughout business. Some types of complex businesses could hardly operate without these machines.

Adding is only one operation. To perform arithmetical computation involves also subtraction, multiplication, and division, and in addition some method for temporary storage of results, removal from storage for further manipulation, and recording of final results by printing. Machines for these purposes are now of two types: keyboard machines for accounting and the like, manually controlled for the insertion of data, and usually automatically controlled as far as the sequence of operations is concerned; and punched-card machines in which separate operations are usually delegated to a series of machines, and the cards then transferred bodily from one to another. Both forms are very useful; but as far as complex computations are concerned, both are still embryo.

Rapid electrical counting appeared soon after the physicists found it desirable to count cosmic rays. For their own purposes the physicists promptly constructed thermionic-tube equipment capable of counting electrical impulses at the rate of 100,000 a second. The advanced arithmetical machines of the future will be electrical in nature, and they will perform at 100 times present speeds, or more.

Moreover, they will be far more versatile than present commercial machines, so that they may readily be adapted for a wide variety of operations. They will be controlled by a control card or film, they will select their own data and manipulate it in accordance with the instructions thus inserted, they will perform complex arithmetical computations at exceedingly high speeds, and they will record results in such form as to be readily available for distribution or for later further manipulation. Such machines will have enormous appetites. One of them will take instructions and data from a roomful of girls armed with simple keyboard punches, and will deliver sheets of computed results every few minutes. There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things.


The repetitive processes of thought are not confined, however, to matters of arithmetic and statistics. In fact, every time one combines and records facts in accordance with established logical processes, the creative aspect of thinking is concerned only with the selection of the data and the process to be employed, and the manipulation thereafter is repetitive in nature and hence a fit matter to be relegated to the machines. Not so much has been done along these lines, beyond the bounds of arithmetic, as might be done, primarily because of the economics of the situation. The needs of business, and the extensive market obviously waiting, assured the advent of mass-produced arithmetical machines just as soon as production methods were sufficiently advanced.

With machines for advanced analysis no such situation existed; for there was and is no extensive market; the users of advanced methods of manipulating data are a very small part of the population. There are, however, machines for solving differential equations – and functional and integral equations, for that matter. There are many special machines, such as the harmonic synthesizer which predicts the tides. There will be many more, appearing certainly first in the hands of the scientist and in small numbers.

If scientific reasoning were limited to the logical processes of arithmetic, we should not get far in our understanding of the physical world. One might as well attempt to grasp the game of poker entirely by the use of the mathematics of probability. The abacus, with its beads string on parallel wires, led the Arabs to positional numeration and the concept of zero many centuries before the rest of the world; and it was a useful tool – so useful that it still exists.

It is a far cry from the abacus to the modern keyboard accounting machine. It will be an equal step to the arithmetical machine of the future. But even this new machine will not take the scientist where he needs to go. Relief must be secured from laborious detailed manipulation of higher mathematics as well, if the users of it are to free their brains for something more than repetitive detailed transformations in accordance with established rules. A mathematician is not a man who can readily manipulate figures; often he cannot. He is not even a man who can readily perform the transformation of equations by the use of calculus. He is primarily an individual who is skilled in the use of symbolic logic on a high plane, and especially he is a man of intuitive judgment in the choice of the manipulative processes he employs.

All else he should be able to turn over to his mechanism, just as confidently as he turns over the propelling of his car to the intricate mechanism under the hood. Only then will mathematics be practically effective in bringing the growing knowledge of atomistics to the useful solution of the advanced problems of chemistry, metallurgy, and biology. For this reason there will come more machines to handle advanced mathematics for the scientist. Some of them will be sufficiently bizarre to suit the most fastidious connoisseur of the present artifacts of civilization.


The scientist, however, is not the only person who manipulates data and examines the world about him by the use of logical processes, although he sometimes preserves this appearance by adopting into the fold anyone who becomes logical, much in the manner in which a British labor leader is elevated to knighthood. Whenever logical processes of thought are employed – that is, whenever thought for a time runs along an accepted groove – there is an opportunity for the machine. Formal logic used to be a keen instrument in the hands of the teacher in his trying of students’ souls. It is readily possible to construct a machine which will manipulate premises in accordance with formal logic, simply by the clever use of relay circuits. Put a set of premises into such a device and turn the crank, and it will readily pass out conclusion after conclusion, all in accordance with logical law, and with no more slips than would be expected of a keyboard adding machine.

Logic can become enormously difficult, and it would undoubtedly be well to produce more assurance in its use. The machines for higher analysis have usually been equation solvers. Ideas are beginning to appear for equation transformers, which will rearrange the relationship expressed by an equation in accordance with strict and rather advanced logic. Progress is inhibited by the exceedingly crude way in which mathematicians express their relationships. They employ a symbolism which grew like Topsy and has little consistency; a strange fact in that most logical field.

A new symbolism, probably positional, must apparently precede the reduction of mathematical transformations to machine processes. Then, on beyond the strict logic of the mathematician, lies the application of logic in everyday affairs. We may some day click off arguments on a machine with the same assurance that we now enter sales on a cash register. But the machine of logic will not look like a cash register, even a streamlined model.

So much for the manipulation of ideas and their insertion into the record. Thus far we seem to be worse off than before – for we can enormously extend the record; yet even in its present bulk we can hardly consult it. This is a much larger matter than merely the extraction of data for the purposes of scientific research; it involves the entire process by which man profits by his inheritance of acquired knowledge.

The prime action of use is selection, and here we are halting indeed. There may be millions of fine thoughts, and the account of the experience on which they are based, all encased within stone walls of acceptable architectural form; but if the scholar can get at only one a week by diligent search, his syntheses are not likely to keep up with the current scene.

Selection, in this broad sense, is a stone adze in the hands of a cabinetmaker. Yet, in a narrow sense and in other areas, something has already been done mechanically on selection. The personnel officer of a factory drops a stack of a few thousand employee cards into a selecting machine, sets a code in accordance with an established convention, and produces in a short time a list of all employees who live in Trenton and know Spanish. Even such devices are much too slow when it comes, for example, to matching a set of fingerprints with one of five millions on file. Selection devices of this sort will soon be speeded up from their present rate of reviewing data at a few hundred a minute. By the use of photocells and microfilm they will survey items at the rate of thousands a second, and will print out duplicates of those selected.

This process, however, is simple selection: it proceeds by examining in turn every one of a large set of items, and by picking out those which have certain specified characteristics. There is another form of selection best illustrated by the automatic telephone exchange. You dial a number and the machine selects and connects just one of a million possible stations. It does not run over them all. It pays attention only to a class given by a first digit, and so on; and thus proceeds rapidly and almost unerringly to the selected station. It requires a few seconds to make the selection, although the process could be speeded up if increased speed were economically warranted. If necessary, it could be made extremely fast by substituting thermionic-tube switching for mechanical switching, so that the full selection could be made in one-hundredth of a second. No one would wish to spend the money necessary to make this change in the telephone system, but the general idea is applicable elsewhere.

Take the prosaic problem of the great department store. Every time a charge sale is made, there are a number of things to be done.. The inventory needs to be revised, the salesman needs to be given credit for the sale, the general accounts need an entry, and, most important, the customer needs to be charged. A central records device has been developed in which much of this work is done conveniently. The salesman places on a stand the customer’s identification card, his own card, and the card taken from the article sold – all punched cards. When he pulls a lever, contacts are made through the holes, machinery at a central point makes the necessary computations and entries, and the proper receipt is printed for the salesman to pass to the customer.

But there may be ten thousand charge customers doing business with the store, and before the full operation can be completed someone has to select the right card and insert it at the central office. Now rapid selection can slide just the proper card into position in an instant or two, and return it afterward. Another difficulty occurs, however. Someone must read a total on the card, so that the machine can add its computed item to it. Conceivably the cards might be of the dry photography type I have described. Existing totals could then be read by photocell, and the new total entered by an electron beam.

The cards may be in miniature, so that they occupy little space. They must move quickly. They need not be transferred far, but merely into position so that the photocell and recorder can operate on them. Positional dots can enter the data. At the end of the month a machine can readily be made to read these and to print an ordinary bill. With tube selection, in which no mechanical parts are involved in the switches, little time need be occupied in bringing the correct card into use – a second should suffice for the entire operation. The whole record on the card may be made by magnetic dots on a steel sheet if desired, instead of dots to be observed optically, following the scheme by which Poulsen long ago put speech on a magnetic wire. This method has the advantage of simplicity and ease of erasure. By using photography, however, one can arrange to project the record in enlarged form, and at a distance by using the process common in television equipment.

One can consider rapid selection of this form, and distant projection for other purposes. To be able to key one sheet of a million before an operator in a second or two, with the possibility of then adding notes thereto, is suggestive in many ways. It might even be of use in libraries, but that is another story. At any rate, there are now some interesting combinations possible. One might, for example, speak to a microphone, in the manner described in connection with the speech-controlled typewriter, and thus make his selections. It would certainly beat the usual file clerk.


The real heart of the matter of selection, however, goes deeper than a lag in the adoption of mechanisms by libraries, or a lack of development of devices for their use. Our ineptitude in getting at the record is largely caused by the artificiality of systems of indexing. When data of any sort are placed in storage, they are filed alphabetically or numerically, and information is found (when it is) by tracing it down from subclass to subclass. It can be in only one place, unless duplicates are used; one has to have rules as to which path will locate it, and the rules are cumbersome. Having found one item, moreover, one has to emerge from the system and re-enter on a new path.

The human mind does not work that way. It operates by association. With one item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the association of thoughts, in accordance with some intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain. It has other characteristics, of course; trails that are not frequently followed are prone to fade, items are not fully permanent, memory is transitory. Yet the speed of action, the intricacy of trails, the detail of mental pictures, is awe-inspiring beyond all else in nature.

Man cannot hope fully to duplicate this mental process artificially, but he certainly ought to be able to learn from it. In minor ways he may even improve, for his record have relative permanency. The first idea, however, to be drawn from the analogy concerns selection. Selection by association, rather than by indexing, may yet be mechanized. One cannot hope thus to equal the speed and flexibility with which the mind follows an associative trail, but it should be possible to beat the mind decisively in regard to the permanence and clarity of the items resurrected from storage.

Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and to coin one at random, “memex” will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

It consists of a desk, and while it can presumably be operated from a distance, it is primarily the piece of furniture at which he works. On the top are slanting translucent screens, on which material can be projected for convenient reading. There is a keyboard, and sets of buttons and levers. Otherwise it looks like an ordinary desk.

In one end is the stored material. The matter of bulk is well taken care of by improved microfilm. Only a small part of the interior of the memex is devoted to storage, the rest to mechanism. Yet if the user inserted 5000 pages of material a day it would take him hundreds of years to fill the repository, so he can be profligate and enter material freely.

Most of the memex contents are purchased on microfilm ready for insertion. Books of all sorts, pictures, current periodicals, newspapers, are thus obtained and dropped into place. Business correspondence takes the same path. And there is provision for direct entry. On the top of the memex is a transparent platen. On this are placed longhand notes, photographs, memoranda, all sort of things. When one is in place, the depression of a lever causes it to be photographed onto the next blank space in a section of the memex film, dry photography being employed.

There is, of course, provision for consultation of the record by the usual scheme of indexing. If the user wishes to consult a certain book, he taps its code on the keyboard, and the title page of the book promptly appears before him, projected onto one of his viewing positions. Frequently-used codes are mnemonic, so that he seldom consults his code book; but when he does, a single tap of a key projects it for his use. Moreover, he has supplemental levers. On deflecting one of these levers to the right he runs through the book before him, each page in turn being projected at a speed which just allows a recognizing glance at each. If he deflects it further to the right, he steps through the book 10 pages at a time; still further at 100 pages at a time. Deflection to the left gives him the same control backwards.

A special button transfers him immediately to the first page of the index. Any given book of his library can thus be called up and consulted with far greater facility than if it were taken from a shelf. As he has several projection positions, he can leave one item in position while he calls up another. He can add marginal notes and comments, taking advantage of one possible type of dry photography, and it could even be arranged so that he can do this by a stylus scheme, such as is now employed in the telautograph seen in railroad waiting rooms, just as though he had the physical page before him.


All this is conventional, except for the projection forward of present-day mechanisms and gadgetry. If affords an immediate step, however, to associative indexing, the basic idea of which is a provision whereby any item may be caused at will to select immediately and automatically another. This is the essential feature of the memex. The process of tying two items together is the important thing.

When the user is building a trail, he names it, inserts the name in his code book, and taps it out on his keyboard. Before him are the two items to be joined, projected onto adjacent viewing positions. At the bottom of each there are a number of blank code spaces, and a pointer is set to indicate one of these on each item. The user taps a single key, and the items are permanently joined. In each code space appears the code word. Out of view, but also in the code space, is inserted a set of dots for photocell viewing; and on each item these dots by their positions designate the index number of the other item.

Thereafter, at any time, when one of these items is in view, the other can be instantly recalled merely by tapping a button below the corresponding code space. Moreover, when numerous items have been thus joined together to form a trail, they can be reviewed in turn, rapidly or slowly, by deflecting a lever like that used for turning the pages of a book. It is exactly as though the physical items had been gathered together to form a new book. It is more than this, for any item can be joined into numerous trails.

The owner of the memex, let us say, is interested in the origin and properties of the bow and arrow. Specifically he is studying why the short Turkish bow was apparently superior to the English long bow in the skirmishes of the Crusades. He has dozens of possibly pertinent books and articles in his memex. First he runs through an encyclopedia, finds and interesting but sketchy article, leaves it projected, Next, in a history, he finds another pertinent item, and ties the two together. Thus he goes, building a trail of many items. Occasionally he inserts a comment of his own, either linking it into the main trail or joining it by a side trail to a particular item. When it becomes evident that the elastic properties of available materials had a great deal to do with the bow, he branches off on a side trail which takes him through textbooks on elasticity and tables of physical constants. He inserts a page of longhand analysis of his own. Thus he builds a trail of his interest through the maze of materials available to him.

And his trails do not fade. Several years later, his talk with a friend turns to the queer ways in which a people resist innovations, even of vital interest. He has an example, in the fact that the outranged Europeans still failed to adopt the Turkish bow. In fact he has a trail on it. A touch brings up the code book. Tapping a few keys projects the head of the trail. A lever runs through it at will, stopping at interesting items, going off on side excursions. It is an interesting trail, pertinent to the discussion. So he sets a reproducer in action, photographs the whole trail out, and passes it to his friend for insertion in his own memex, there to be linked into the more general trail.


Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready-made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified. The lawyer has at his touch the associated opinions and decisions of his whole experience, and of the experience of friends and authorities. The patent attorney has on call the millions of issued patents, with familiar trails to every point of his client’s interest. The physician, puzzled by its patient’s reactions, strikes the trail established in studying an earlier similar case, and runs rapidly through analogous case histories, with side references to the classics for the pertinent anatomy and histology. The chemist, struggling with the synthesis of an organic compound, has all the chemical literature before him in his laboratory, with trails following the analogies of compounds, and side trails to their physical and chemical behavior.

The historian, with a vast chronological account of a people, parallels it with a skip trail which stops only at the salient items, and can follow at any time contemporary trails which lead him all over civilization at a particular epoch. There is a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record. The inheritance from the master becomes, not only his additions to the world’s record, but for his disciples the entire scaffolding by which they were erected.

Thus science may implement the ways in which man produces, stores, and consults the record of the race. It might be striking to outline the instrumentalities of the future more spectacularly, rather than to stick closely to the methods and elements now known and undergoing rapid development, as has been done here. Technical difficulties of all sorts have been ignored, certainly, but also ignored are means as yet unknown which may come any day to accelerate technical progress as violently as did the advent of the thermionic tube. In order that the picture may not be too commonplace, by reason of sticking to present day patterns, it may be well to mention one such possibility, not to prophesy but merely to suggest, for prophecy based on extension of the known has substance, while prophecy founded on the unknown is only a doubly involved guess.

All our steps in creating or absorbing material of the record proceed through one of the senses – the tactile when we touch keys, the oral when we speak or listen, the visual when we read. Is it not possible that some day the path may be established more directly?

We know that when the eye sees, all the consequent information is transmitted to the brain by means of electrical vibrations in the channel of the optic nerve. This is an exact analogy with the electrical vibrations which occur in the cable of a television set: they convey the picture from the photocells which see it to the radio transmitter from which it is broadcast. We know further that if we can approach that cable with the proper instruments, we do not need to touch it; we can pick up those vibrations by electrical induction and thus discover and reproduce the scene which is being transmitted, just as a telephone wire may be tapped for its message.

The impulse which flow in the arm nerves of a typist convey to her fingers the translated information which reaches her eye or ear, in order that the fingers may be caused to strike the proper keys. Might not these currents be intercepted, either in the original form in which information is conveyed to the brain, or in the marvelously metamorphosed form in which they then proceed to the hand?

By bone conduction we already introduce sounds into the nerve channels of the deaf in order that they may hear. Is it not possible that we may learn to introduce them without the present cumbersomeness of first transforming electrical vibrations to mechanical ones, which the human mechanism promptly transforms back to the electrical form? With a couple of electrodes on the skull the encephalograph now produces pen-and-ink traces which bear some relation to the electrical phenomena going on in the brain itself. True, the record is unintelligible, except as it points out certain gross misfunctioning of the cerebral mechanism; but who would now place bounds on where such a thing may lead?

In the outside world, all forms of intelligence, whether of sound or sight, have been reduced to the form of varying currents in an electric circuit in order that they may be transmitted. Inside the human frame exactly the same sort of process occurs. Must we always transform to mechanical movements in order to proceed from one electrical phenomenon to another? It is a suggestive thought, but it hardly warrants prediction without losing touch with reality and immediateness.

Presumably man’s spirit should be elevated if he can better review his shady past and analyze more completely and objectively his present problems. He has built a civilization so complex that he needs to mechanize his record more fully if he is to push his experiment to its logical conclusion and not merely become bogged down part way there by overtaxing his limited memory. His excursion may be more enjoyable if he can reacquire the privilege of forgetting the manifold things he does not need to have immediately at hand, with some assurance that he can find them again if they prove important.

The applications of science have built man a well-supplied house, and are teaching him to live healthily therein. They have enabled him to throw masses of people against another with cruel weapons. They may yet allow him truly to encompass the great record and to grow in the wisdom of race experience. He may perish in conflict before he learns to wield that record for his true good. Yet, in the application of science to the needs and desires of man, it would seem to be a singularly unfortunate stage at which to terminate the process, or to lose hope as to the outcome.



Generation of Greatness

The following is a lecture from the founder and President of Polaroid, Edwin Land. Land presented this in 1957 at MIT. The title was “The Idea of a University in an Age of Science”.

Beyond his deep respect for the members of M.I.T.’s faculty and administration, your speaker brings to this review two primary ideas — love of science and faith in youth.

In the two weeks during which I was your guest here at M.I.T., I have had some twenty meetings with groups of the faculty and with groups of undergraduates. I have been to dinner at a Fraternity house. I have had graduate students and undergraduates come to dinner with me. I have seen the remarkable Survey of Scholastic Enthusiasm conducted by undergraduates in recent years, and I have had the advice of a student group of the Arthur Dehon Little Lecture Committee.

Nothing which I saw changed the latent conviction that I brought with me, that the freshmen entering our American universities have a potential for greatness which we have not learned how to develop fully by the kind of education we have brought to this generation from the generations of the past.

Everything that I saw strengthened this conviction. Everywhere I went there was the deep concern of the faculty and administration for doing the teaching job better. And everywhere I could sense a deep feeling in the undergraduates I met: none of them dared to express it, but every one of them felt, in his heart, that if a way could be found of nurturing the timid dream of his own potential greatness which he brought from his family and school, if somehow he could tie on to the greatness in the faculty and the administration, then his dream might be coming out differently.

The Age of Greatness

What do I mean by greatness as I have used it in the title of this lecture? What do I mean by the Generation of Greatness?

I mean that in this age, in this country, there is an opportunity for the development of man’s intellectual, cultural, and spiritual potentialities that has never existed before in the history of our species. I mean not simply an opportunity for greatness for a few, but an opportunity for greatness for the many.

I believe that each young person is different from any other who has ever lived, as different as his fingerprints: that he could bring to the world a wonderful and special way of solving unsolved problems, that in his special way, he can be great. Now don’t misunderstand me. I recognize that this merely great person, as distinguished from the genius, will not be able to bridge from field to field. He will not have the ideas that shorten the solution of problems by hundreds of years. He will not suddenly say that mass is energy, that is genius. But within his own field he will make things grow and flourish; he will grow happy helping other people in his field, and to that field he will add things that would not have been added, had he not come along.

I believe there are two opposing theories of history, and you have to make your choice. Either you believe that this kind of individual greatness does exist and can be nurtured and developed, that such great individuals can be part of a cooperative community while they continue to be their happy, flourishing, contributing selves — or else you believe that there is some mystical, cyclical, overriding, predetermined, cultural law — a historic determinism.

The great contribution of science is to say that this second theory is nonsense. The great contribution of science is to demonstrate that a person can regard the world as chaos, but can find in himself a method of perceiving, within that chaos, small arrangements of order, that out of himself, and out of the order that previous scientists have generated, he can make things that are exciting and thrilling to make, that are deeply spiritual contributions to himself and to his friends. The scientist comes to the world and says, “I do not understand the divine source, but I know, in a way that I don’t understand, that out of chaos I can make order, out of loneliness I can make friendship, out of ugliness I can make beauty.”

I believe that men are born this way — that all men are born this way. I know that each of the undergraduates with whom I talked shares this belief. Each of these men felt secretly — it was his very special secret and his deepest secret — that he could be great.

But not many undergraduates come through our present educational system retaining this hope. Our young people, for the most part — unless they are geniuses — after a very short time in college give up any hope of being individually great. They plan, instead, to be good. They plan to be effective, They plan to do their job. They plan to take their healthy place in the community. We might say that today it takes a genius to come out great, and a great man, a merely great man, cannot survive. It has become our habit, therefore, to think that the age of greatness has passed, that the age of the great man is gone, that this is the day of group research, that this is the day of community progress. Yet the very essence of democracy is the absolute faith that while people must cooperate, the first function of democracy, its peculiar gift, is to develop each individual into everything that he might be. But I submit to you that when in each man the dream of personal greatness dies, democracy loses the real source of its future strength.

Idea of the University

I want to talk now about the ways in university life that seem, to someone looking at it a little from the side, to be the right ways in this generation. Let us consider together what university life should be like, to fulfill its function in this age.

The thing that we cannot realize in university life is the extent to which our natural concern with the past in what we teach has tied us to the past in how we teach. It is essential for the faculties of our universities to realize that we have not created this problem, we have inherited it.

De Toqueville enjoyed pointing out a peculiar characteristic of American democracy: it solves the problems that occur, as they come along, in a new way. What new ways, right for this generation, would we like to see in university life?

Attitude Toward the Undergraduate

My first proposal concerns the attitude of the university towards the undergraduate.

We find that in other areas in modern life, the attitude toward individuals is changing very, very rapidly. Thus, coming into a university from industry, one is surprised to see that entering pupils are treated as young and immature. To anybody on the outside it is self-evident that these boys coming in are not boys. It is self-evident that these men coming in are men. These are the ones who, at seventeen, would have been fighting the bears in the caves of old: who, at seventeen, would have been diverting the streams that came to flood their nomadic valleys.

The fact that civilization is becoming more intricate must not mean that we treat men for a longer period as immature. Does it not mean, perhaps, the opposite: that we must skillfully make them mature sooner, that we must find ways of handling the intricacy of our culture?

Now this error in attitude — mistaking these men for boys — permeates the whole scholastic domain, permeates it so thoroughly that it is hard for anyone within the domain to recognize it.

What do I mean by saying that a man is treated as a boy? I mean that he is told, the moment he arrives, that his secret dream of greatness is a pipe-dream; that it will be a long time before he makes a significant, personal contribution — if ever.

He is told this not with words. He is told this in a much more convincing way. He is shown, in everything that happens to him, that nobody could dream that he could make a significant, personal contribution.

He is given courses, he is instantly given tests, and he is given examinations. Now I ask you, if this is preparation for life, tell me where, where in the world, where in the relationship with our colleagues, where in the industrial domain, where ever again, anywhere in life, is a person given this curious sequence of prepared talks and prepared questions, questions to which the answers are known? Where again is he ever marked in this way? Where again is a structure of authoritarianism masked by the genuine friendliness of the democratic people who are his leaders? Where ever again is a person brought to the day of judgment every single week?

One may be inclined to say: After all, it’s just part of a system. But consider this: The first thing a mark tells you is whether what you said is true. When the professor says, “Hand back what I said,” the professor is telling the student that what he, the professor, said is true. Now the role of science is to be systematic, to be accurate, to be orderly, but it certainly is not to imply that the aggregated, successful hypotheses of the past have the kind of truth that goes into a number system.

If we wonder why so few pupils survive the university system in the country today — survive to come out asking the right questions, feeling free to question the authority of science although they have mastered the techniques — I suspect it starts here.

I say that our system of tests and grades, as it now exists, is one source of the low yield of great men from our universities. The marking system is a traumatic experience from which most students emerge with a deep determination never to get into a situation where they can be marked again. They just won’t ever again take a chance.

Another example of the attitude toward these incoming men is the honor system. In this survey of scholastic enthusiasm that I mentioned earlier, there is a good deal of discussion of the honor system, of its use in other colleges, and of whether or not we ought to have it at M.I.T. Is it too much to hope that an inspired undergraduate body would need no policing system, even that of its own “honor”?

One feels, when among our young students, that they are honest and honorable and full of ideals, that they come to the door of our universities with the dream of being our colleagues; that if we could provide them intimate leadership there would be no discipline to which they would not subject themselves and no task so arduous in the pursuit of knowledge and science that they would not devote themselves fully to it. But if we imply, as I believe we do by our present attitude, that we do not have this kind of faith in them, then their own strength wanes and they cannot believe the best of themselves. What then should our attitude be, and how might we express it?

The Usher

I would dream that when a freshman enters the university, he would become at once a member of a small group, perhaps of about ten men. He would be associated at once with a mature, established scholar whose first interest is the education — I use the word in its broadest sense — of this incoming group and of the ten who came in the year before. The functions of these scholars will appear as I go along. Let me just refer to him, for our present purposes, as an usher — someone who leads you through the door — and describe him as a scholar who has a warm feeling for teaching, has succeeded enough in his field so that he is emerging from the fast-flowing part of the stream of his career, past the exciting rocks and chasms of his earlier years, and entering onto the pleasant, broad part of the river where he can relax a bit.

One of these ushers would greet each group of ten men as they came to the university. He would associate them with him as his colleagues — junior colleagues, to be sure, but as men capable at once of behaving as men, capable of the greatness that I have described.

He would help these young colleagues look over the university, talk over the professors, talk over the courses; he would start them reading, and then start them going to some lectures.

And he would start each one on a personal research project.

The Personal Project

I believe each incoming freshman must be started at once on his own research project if we are to preserve his secret dream of greatness and make it come true.

I believe, indeed, that the scientific experience should come earlier than the first year of college. I would urge that just as democracy initially meant the right of man to defend himself, to have a sword, and then meant the right to write, and then meant the right to read — so, now, democracy means the right to have the scientific experience.

This does not mean that everybody is a scientist in the professional sense. It does not mean that, any more than that everyone who can write is a writer in the professional sense. But just as an English teacher in the high school can give an assignment to write an original theme, so a science teacher in the high school should give an assignment to do an original piece of scientific work. I hope to convince you that this is feasible, that it is as normal for the young pupil in high school, or even in grade school, to carry out an original scientific investigation as it is for him to write his paper about what happened to the black and white horse out in the barn.

The proper kind of respect for distinguished people and distinguished accomplishments can be acquired only by actual participation in scientific research — what was valid in their spirit and their facts — what was necessarily of transient importance — how they related themselves to nature — and how any scientist must relate himself to nature and nature to himself. None of this can be understood except by a person who has himself been a scientist. A contemporary man who has not participated intimately in actual work in science is, in my opinion, not a modern man. I believe that this experience in science should come early in the life of all of our pupils.

Now, I expect you to say that it is inconceivable that we could provide enough experiments for all these students. That objection, I think, arises from the fact that the teachers in a great university are distinguished people. They are in fields that have come a long way. They are in fields of great current importance. Each is working out at the farthest end of one predominant line within his field. Now, for a young man to catch up with all the distinguished workers along that line, to pass them, and to make a contribution is indeed an almost unthinkable thing. The ordinary tendency, then, of a distinguished person in any field is to feel that no matter how much he admires and respects the young man, he cannot impose on him the requirements of contribution in that line where so many great men are working.

What I would like to urge is then in between all of these major lines of scientific investigation there are vast areas as yet unexplored. What would be one? Consider the recent work of Von Frisch, which shows that bees find their way by the polarized light of the sky. Von Frisch’s work suggests the kind of project our young man could undertake.

We suggest to the entering freshman: Von Frisch has found that bees find their way by polarized light. Your problem is to find out what, if anything, in the bee’s eye, is the analyzer for that polarized light? Immediately, the first day the man starts on that problem, he is the world’s authority on it. No one else is working in his domain; he is on his way; he is a self-respecting individual; he is motivated in a hundred different ways; he is our colleague. Similarly he could have been the one to find out how bees talk to one another, how they take ordinary drones and somehow convert them into scouts that go out and find new sites for the hive and come back and tell the hive about them. He could find out what happens in the town meetings of the bees when the scouts come back and the hive votes on which scout to believe.

Thus it is apparent that there are areas where untrained people may work effectively and with limited equipment. Our pupil doesn’t need a big laboratory to do this, he needs freedom; he needs encouragement.

Introductory Courses

The next proposal I wish to make concerns the nature of the courses through which entering students are introduced to the various disciplines.

It seems to me that the introductory courses which are designed, supposedly, to teach the whole freshman class about chemistry, and physics, and mathematics, to serve as background in these fields, have instead a tendency to be given as survival courses. That is, a man who is inherently a chemist will survive an introductory course in chemistry; a man who is not inherently a chemist will not want to hear of chemistry again.

Similarly, I think a physicist, looking at a student, does not ask, “How can I help this boy become a great man in some field?”, but “Is this boy potentially a great physicist who will some day work in my field? Is he someone with whom I might identify myself, and to whom I would be proud to pass on what I know?” While this is an understandable attitude, it doesn’t solve the problem of how we make chemists and mathematicians have a deep feeling for physics. I think the “school science” approach does; and I think the general education course at its best does also — where by the best we mean the brilliant presentation of the most precisely delineated ideas, and I think we must say this to each department: “Sharpen up the edges of ideas for the students in fields other than your own. They will not have years in which to find out what you meant, years during which they might achieve a sense of rich insight into your domain. But they are intelligent, they are earnest in their own department; they will profit all their lives from one year of brilliant teaching.”

Now this takes time, patience, and talent, and the question immediately arises: How can we find the time?

One proposal that interests me is to take the good lecturers at the moment when they are most excited about a new way of saying something, or at the moment when they have just found something new, and make moving pictures of them right in class. “Can the lecture with the vitamins in!”

Although I have not been in a university all my life, most of my friends have, and many a wonderful evening has been spoiled because a friend had to go home to do his lecture over. The same lecture? Yes, the same lecture. Why did he have to do it over? Because he had a little new insight. And so he redid that part, and became excited, and when he gave his lecture the next morning, everybody saw that he was excited, and the lecture was wonderful. (Actually, when he redid his lecture, he dropped out the idea he was excited about the previous year, which was just as important — but he couldn’t get excited about it again.)

With the movie we can capture the excitement, as well as the substance, of the best lectures. The lecturer can be freed of much of the burden of the total review of his field every year. He can devote himself to what he is excited about this year; to the new discovery, to the increment in knowledge, to correcting what he said before, to a fresh statement about an extensive new area.

When our new, mature freshman comes in, then, to the new regenerated university of the 1960’s, he will find a building which combines a series of movie theaters with a storehouse of great lectures. In these theaters, groups of students see many of the lectures that today must be given, in person, by their professors. Later, each student can see these lectures over again, whenever he wants to.

As you watch these movies we are about to show, you will find, I think, that in several respects the movie can actually be better than the lecturer in person. One can see, in the movie close-ups, what actually occurs in his demonstration.

You will also observe in yourself a curious objectivity. In an actual lecture, there is often a high and somewhat irrelevant emotional content, one way or the other, positive or negative; either one is too sensitive to the teacher or one is too insensitive; either one is too wide awake or one is too sleepy. One senses the presence of the man, in addition to, and outside of, anything that he has to say about the subject of the lecture. I think you will find in these movies that while you can feel the warmth of the personality of the lecturer, you can at the same time retain a relaxed objectivity that should speed the learning process.

These movies represent three different experiments. In one, Professor Hans Mueller, a very popular and effective lecturer, talks in his field of optics about the scattering of light. In this experiment, the movie camera was brought in while he was giving his lecture. Just a fragment of the lecture is shown.

The second film is of Professor Ernst Guillemin. He has just described how an abrupt truncation of the band width affects the transmission of a signal and he is about to describe how this effect may be minimized.

The third was prepared by Professor Jerrold Zacharias and Professor Tom Jones as part of their school science work. It is a complete lecture-demonstration about the pressure of light.

The movies were then shown and Dr. Land proceeded to his concluding remarks.

In our reconstitution of the university of the future, we have made these proposals:

  • The university would accept the young men coming to it as men, and in the course of doing so, it would discard the present grading system in favor of one which would enable the student to check his accomplishment but would not encumber the relationship between the student and his professor.
  • It would cherish and nurture the dream of greatness that these young men bring with them when they come to the university, in particular by giving each of them, from the start, a research project of his own.
  • It would introduce them to the several fields of science through courses designed nor to screen out nonspecialists, but rather to give them the essential insights and ideas in these fields.
  • It would give them, in their introductory courses and in all of their courses, the best teaching of the best lecturers, by preserving and multiplying these lectures in motion pictures.
  • It would give them intimate association, from the first, with a mature colleague — the usher.

The Function of the Usher

I have saved till last my discussion of the usher.

Why do we need the usher? What do these ushers do? What are they like?

Their function is to take these young men as they come to the university and see that they become, during the first two years, sophisticated in science generally, and sophisticated in the world of literature and the arts generally. They would see that these first two years are dedicated to a deliberate program of induction into mental maturity.

Just as the ages of five, six, and seven are when a child learns languages quickly, the years from seventeen to nineteen are peculiarly the years in which a man reaches out to try and understand the universe in every possible way.

The ushers encourage this reaching out, stimulate and guide it. As they acquire insight into the personality and the needs of the incoming man, they open the doors of the university to him…the right doors, at the right time. They build, with each man, a program of reading, of lectures, of seminars. When the usher feels his group of students is ready to talk with a great professor, he arranges for the meeting, seeing to it that the students are prepared ahead of time to ask the right questions.

We have already seen the usher starting his men on their personal research projects. As each man pursues his investigation, his usher is the trusted and trusting friend, the master whose criticism he can ask for and take without losing face; he is the senior colleague who knows his way around in all of the fields that the investigation will inevitably come to involve.

But perhaps the usher’s greatest contribution is merely to be what he is — when he is not being consciously and explicitly a guide and counselor. The usher, remember, is a great man in his field. He has not dropped his career. He is actively engaged in his own field, contributing to it through his own first-rate research.

Can we find such men? For a university of the size of M.I.T., we would need ninety of them. Could we find enough of these great men to go around? I think we could.

I think that there comes a point in each career where a man begins to get as deep satisfaction from bringing younger men along as he gets from making scientific contributions to his field. There comes an age when suddenly this, too, seems to be fun. It comes, I think, about the time that presbyopia sets in. At that moment, the things to which he has been devoting all his life — the finding of a great law, the isolation of the compound, the working out of the structure, having more and more graduate students, working for one academy after another and then for the Nobel Prize — all of that is very important, but instead of seeming of cosmic importance, it seems important only if he can do it in a happy, healthy world, only in a world in which he is deeply concerned about people.

You will find these ushers, I would say, by searching among the great scientists who have arrived at this stage.

These ushers would be well paid. Because they would be well paid, they would only have to take those consulting jobs that appealed to them. They could be made exempt from serving on committees.

In thinking about what the human animal might have gone through in the evolutionary process, have you wondered how some of the small changes which must have occurred could have had survival value? Haven’t you wondered how they could have survived, when, in all of our experimental work every small change we make dies? I think that each of us, in each of our fields, has come to this conclusion: that every once in a while, after we have tried a multitude of little changes, each of which dies, we make a little change that gives an important result in terms of the whole. We make a little change in one of the independent variables that gives an enormous change in a dependent variable that controls the behavior of the whole structure.

How many changes must have occurred in the human eye, occurred and died, before one change came along — an apparently trivial change like a little red-sensitivity in the retina along with the black-and-white sensitivity — that gave the whole animal a significant increase in its power to perceive and hunt down its enemies and find its food. This is the kind of change that survives.

In my opinion, neither organisms nor organizations evolve slowly and surely into something better, but drift until some small change occurs which has immediate and overwhelming significance. The special role of the human being is not to wait for these favorable accidents but deliberately to introduce the small change that will have great significance.

To treat young men like men; to use modern recording techniques to capture the moment of exciting teaching; to gather ninety great men out of our one-hundred and seventy million — these, in retrospect, will seem like small changes indeed if they succeed in building a generation of greatness.

Ethnography – Get Close to Customers

Ethnography is common practice within anthropology. Anthropologists often live with and study groups or societies for long periods of time, forming close and intimate connections with the target group that allow for insights that could not be gained from one-on-one interviews or group discussions. These immersive observations and interviews often result in powerful and unexpected findings.

The objective of applying ethnography to market research is to get inside the customer’s head and understand them in their environment. Sharing these visits can provide coworkers deep insight into how customers live, how they use the product, and what problems they are experiencing. You also uncover details of their lives not typically found during one-on-one interviews (e.g., what car they drive, what food they eat, the brand of clothes they wear). These findings are valuable for effective new product development, positioning, messaging, and developing winning sales and marketing tactics.

You typically conduct visits in the locations where customers use the product (e.g., home, school, business). The visit often lasts several hours (or days), allowing a deep understanding of who the customer is and various aspects of their lives (e.g., what other products they own, what media they consume, foods they eat, brands they respect), how they use the product, and what problems they encounter when using the product. A few hours or several days with customers in their environment can provide amazing insights to drive new ways to message customers, position a product, or develop products for untapped markets.

During the visit, focus on the environment. Take in the physical setting to gain a holistic understanding of the environment, not just what the individual says (Gray, 2011). What sounds and smells do you notice? What do you see around the area (e.g., pictures on the walls, items in the garage, types of furniture)? What’s on their desk? How does the person react to certain questions? What key phrases or words do they consistently use? How do they spend their free time? What is important to them?

The more you listen and observe, the more information you will gather that can provide new ways to differentiate a product or uncover new methods to engage with customers. Remember, you are going to build a story, so make sure you gather multiple insights to communicate the small nuances that quantitative data cannot provide.

Conducting ethnographic research requires great listening skills—being empathetic, but dispassionate. You are there to watch, listen, and understand the customer, not to get involved or influence their behavior. Continually ask probing questions to fully understand the customer and their interactions with the product, service, or process. It is recommended that you record the visits.

If coworkers cannot get out of the office and participate in the visits, a video story is the next best thing. Develop a video story that brings the customer to life. You should be able to show people back in the office who the actual customer is: the person on whom you all must focus, the person who keeps the organization in business.

Now that you have preliminary information regarding your MR topic, it is often helpful to conduct several focus groups to ensure that what you’ve learned applies to a larger subset of the sample population. Avoid starting your exploratory research with focus groups, though, because they are expensive and take a lot of planning and preparation. It is more effective and efficient to conduct focus groups after gathering some initial qualitative data.

Market Research Training


Like with most skills, it is helpful to study and attend training classes to accelerate their learning. MR includes multiple specialties and requires a variety of skills (e.g., designing questionnaires, interviewing, creating reports, moderating focus groups). The more you can improve your MR skills, the greater insights you will uncover to make better decisions. Also, a team that can conduct high-level MR will gain increased market understanding compared to that obtained through a third-party vendor that is not familiar with your products or industry.

A successful MR practitioner must have a strong foundational understanding of the science behind MR and of what drives a successful MR project. Study the following MR topics to improve your skills (you can only learn so much from a book or a YouTube video).

  • Designing questionnaires
  • Interviewing
  • Moderating
  • Understanding key statistical tools (e.g., correlation, multiple regression)
  • Gathering and analyzing data
  • Creating research reports

The more you understand MR fundamentals, the better you will be at conducting Do-It-Yourself (DIY) research. Also, you will gain valuable knowledge and increased confidence when working with third-party MR vendors to ensure any outsourced project succeeds. It is not always feasible to conduct DIY research (e.g., resource constraints, lack of specific skills, lack of time), but understanding MR will ensure you and your vendors create successful projects. Regardless of whether you insource or outsource MR, a deep understanding and hands-on experience will increase the probability of a successful project.

Use multiple resources to improve your MR skills. In-person courses from the Burke Institute or RIVA Training Institute are excellent for learning in an interactive environment. Online course providers such as Udemy or are also excellent sources of continued learning. No matter which method you use to increase your MR skills, keep learning and practicing; make continuous learning a lifelong habit.

The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions

It is probably a good idea for everyone to revisit Abraham Lincoln’s words from January 27, 1838. The address was before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois.

As a subject for the remarks of the evening, the perpetuation of our political institutions, is selected.

In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the American People, find our account running, under date of the nineteenth century of the Christian era.–We find ourselves in the peaceful possession, of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them–they are a legacy bequeathed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors. Their’s was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves, us, of this goodly land; and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; ’tis ours only, to transmit these, the former, unprofaned by the foot of an invader; the latter, undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation, to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.

How then shall we perform it?–At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?– Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill-omen, amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any community; and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a violation of truth, and an insult to our intelligence, to deny. Accounts of outrages committed by mobs, form the every-day news of the times. They have pervaded the country, from New England to Louisiana;–they are neither peculiar to the eternal snows of the former, nor the burning suns of the latter;–they are not the creature of climate– neither are they confined to the slave-holding, or the non-slave- holding States. Alike, they spring up among the pleasure hunting masters of Southern slaves, and the order loving citizens of the land of steady habits.–Whatever, then, their cause may be, it is common to the whole country.

It would be tedious, as well as useless, to recount the horrors of all of them. Those happening in the State of Mississippi, and at St. Louis, are, perhaps, the most dangerous in example and revolting to humanity. In the Mississippi case, they first commenced by hanging the regular gamblers; a set of men, certainly not following for a livelihood, a very useful, or very honest occupation; but one which, so far from being forbidden by the laws, was actually licensed by an act of the Legislature, passed but a single year before. Next, negroes, suspected of conspiring to raise an insurrection, were caught up and hanged in all parts of the State: then, white men, supposed to be leagued with the negroes; and finally, strangers, from neighboring States, going thither on business, were, in many instances subjected to the same fate. Thus went on this process of hanging, from gamblers to negroes, from negroes to white citizens, and from these to strangers; till, dead men were seen literally dangling from the boughs of trees upon every road side; and in numbers almost sufficient, to rival the native Spanish moss of the country, as a drapery of the forest.

Turn, then, to that horror-striking scene at St. Louis. A single victim was only sacrificed there. His story is very short; and is, perhaps, the most highly tragic, if anything of its length, that has ever been witnessed in real life. A mulatto man, by the name of McIntosh, was seized in the street, dragged to the suburbs of the city, chained to a tree, and actually burned to death; and all within a single hour from the time he had been a freeman, attending to his own business, and at peace with the world.

Such are the effects of mob law; and such as the scenes, becoming more and more frequent in this land so lately famed for love of law and order; and the stories of which, have even now grown too familiar, to attract any thing more, than an idle remark.

But you are, perhaps, ready to ask, “What has this to do with the perpetuation of our political institutions?” I answer, it has much to do with it. Its direct consequences are, comparatively speaking, but a small evil; and much of its danger consists, in the proneness of our minds, to regard its direct, as its only consequences. Abstractly considered, the hanging of the gamblers at Vicksburg, was of but little consequence. They constitute a portion of population, that is worse than useless in any community; and their death, if no pernicious example be set by it, is never matter of reasonable regret with any one. If they were annually swept, from the stage of existence, by the plague or small pox, honest men would, perhaps, be much profited, by the operation.–Similar too, is the correct reasoning, in regard to the burning of the negro at St. Louis. He had forfeited his life, by the perpetration of an outrageous murder, upon one of the most worthy and respectable citizens of the city; and had not he died as he did, he must have died by the sentence of the law, in a very short time afterwards. As to him alone, it was as well the way it was, as it could otherwise have been.–But the example in either case, was fearful.–When men take it in their heads to day, to hang gamblers, or burn murderers, they should recollect, that, in the confusion usually attending such transactions, they will be as likely to hang or burn some one who is neither a gambler nor a murderer as one who is; and that, acting upon the example they set, the mob of to-morrow, may, and probably will, hang or burn some of them by the very same mistake. And not only so; the innocent, those who have ever set their faces against violations of law in every shape, alike with the guilty, fall victims to the ravages of mob law; and thus it goes on, step by step, till all the walls erected for the defense of the persons and property of individuals, are trodden down, and disregarded. But all this even, is not the full extent of the evil.–By such examples, by instances of the perpetrators of such acts going unpunished, the lawless in spirit, are encouraged to become lawless in practice; and having been used to no restraint, but dread of punishment, they thus become, absolutely unrestrained.–Having ever regarded Government as their deadliest bane, they make a jubilee of the suspension of its operations; and pray for nothing so much, as its total annihilation. While, on the other hand, good men, men who love tranquility, who desire to abide by the laws, and enjoy their benefits, who would gladly spill their blood in the defense of their country; seeing their property destroyed; their families insulted, and their lives endangered; their persons injured; and seeing nothing in prospect that forebodes a change for the better; become tired of, and disgusted with, a Government that offers them no protection; and are not much averse to a change in which they imagine they have nothing to lose. Thus, then, by the operation of this mobocractic spirit, which all must admit, is now abroad in the land, the strongest bulwark of any Government, and particularly of those constituted like ours, may effectually be broken down and destroyed–I mean the attachment of the People. Whenever this effect shall be produced among us; whenever the vicious portion of population shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision-stores, throw printing presses into rivers, shoot editors, and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure, and with impunity; depend on it, this Government cannot last. By such things, the feelings of the best citizens will become more or less alienated from it; and thus it will be left without friends, or with too few, and those few too weak, to make their friendship effectual. At such a time and under such circumstances, men of sufficient talent and ambition will not be wanting to seize the opportunity, strike the blow, and overturn that fair fabric, which for the last half century, has been the fondest hope, of the lovers of freedom, throughout the world.

I know the American People are much attached to their Government;–I know they would suffer much for its sake;–I know they would endure evils long and patiently, before they would ever think of exchanging it for another. Yet, notwithstanding all this, if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property, are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their affections from the Government is the natural consequence; and to that, sooner or later, it must come.

Here then, is one point at which danger may be expected.

The question recurs, “how shall we fortify against it?” The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor;–let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap–let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs;–let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

When I so pressingly urge a strict observance of all the laws, let me not be understood as saying there are no bad laws, nor that grievances may not arise, for the redress of which, no legal provisions have been made.–I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say, that, although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still while they continue in force, for the sake of example, they should be religiously observed. So also in unprovided cases. If such arise, let proper legal provisions be made for them with the least possible delay; but, till then, let them, if not too intolerable, be borne with.

There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law. In any case that arises, as for instance, the promulgation of abolitionism, one of two positions is necessarily true; that is, the thing is right within itself, and therefore deserves the protection of all law and all good citizens; or, it is wrong, and therefore proper to be prohibited by legal enactments; and in neither case, is the interposition of mob law, either necessary, justifiable, or excusable.

But, it may be asked, why suppose danger to our political institutions? Have we not preserved them for more than fifty years? And why may we not for fifty times as long?

We hope there is no sufficient reason. We hope all dangers may be overcome; but to conclude that no danger may ever arise, would itself be extremely dangerous. There are now, and will hereafter be, many causes, dangerous in their tendency, which have not existed heretofore; and which are not too insignificant to merit attention. That our government should have been maintained in its original form from its establishment until now, is not much to be wondered at. It had many props to support it through that period, which now are decayed, and crumbled away. Through that period, it was felt by all, to be an undecided experiment; now, it is understood to be a successful one.–Then, all that sought celebrity and fame, and distinction, expected to find them in the success of that experiment. Their all was staked upon it:– their destiny was inseparably linked with it. Their ambition aspired to display before an admiring world, a practical demonstration of the truth of a proposition, which had hitherto been considered, at best no better, than problematical; namely, the capability of a people to govern themselves. If they succeeded, they were to be immortalized; their names were to be transferred to counties and cities, and rivers and mountains; and to be revered and sung, and toasted through all time. If they failed, they were to be called knaves and fools, and fanatics for a fleeting hour; then to sink and be forgotten. They succeeded. The experiment is successful; and thousands have won their deathless names in making it so. But the game is caught; and I believe it is true, that with the catching, end the pleasures of the chase. This field of glory is harvested, and the crop is already appropriated. But new reapers will arise, and they, too, will seek a field. It is to deny, what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us. And, when they do, they will as naturally seek the gratification of their ruling passion, as others have so done before them. The question then, is, can that gratification be found in supporting and maintaining an edifice that has been erected by others? Most certainly it cannot. Many great and good men sufficiently qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever be found, whose ambition would inspire to nothing beyond a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or a presidential chair; but such belong not to the family of the lion, or the tribe of the eagle. What! think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon?–Never! Towering genius distains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.–It sees no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen. Is it unreasonable then to expect, that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time, spring up among us? And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.

Distinction will be his paramount object, and although he would as willingly, perhaps more so, acquire it by doing good as harm; yet, that opportunity being past, and nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down.

Here, then, is a probable case, highly dangerous, and such a one as could not have well existed heretofore.

Another reason which once was; but which, to the same extent, is now no more, has done much in maintaining our institutions thus far. I mean the powerful influence which the interesting scenes of the revolution had upon the passions of the people as distinguished from their judgment. By this influence, the jealousy, envy, and avarice, incident to our nature, and so common to a state of peace, prosperity, and conscious strength, were, for the time, in a great measure smothered and rendered inactive; while the deep-rooted principles of hate, and the powerful motive of revenge, instead of being turned against each other, were directed exclusively against the British nation. And thus, from the force of circumstances, the basest principles of our nature, were either made to lie dormant, or to become the active agents in the advancement of the noblest cause–that of establishing and maintaining civil and religious liberty.

But this state of feeling must fade, is fading, has faded, with the circumstances that produced it.

I do not mean to say, that the scenes of the revolution are now or ever will be entirely forgotten; but that like every thing else, they must fade upon the memory of the world, and grow more and more dim by the lapse of time. In history, we hope, they will be read of, and recounted, so long as the bible shall be read;– but even granting that they will, their influence cannot be what it heretofore has been. Even then, they cannot be so universally known, nor so vividly felt, as they were by the generation just gone to rest. At the close of that struggle, nearly every adult male had been a participator in some of its scenes. The consequence was, that of those scenes, in the form of a husband, a father, a son or brother, a living history was to be found in every family– a history bearing the indubitable testimonies of its own authenticity, in the limbs mangled, in the scars of wounds received, in the midst of the very scenes related–a history, too, that could be read and understood alike by all, the wise and the ignorant, the learned and the unlearned.–But those histories are gone. They can be read no more forever. They were a fortress of strength; but, what invading foeman could never do, the silent artillery of time has done; the leveling of its walls. They are gone.–They were a forest of giant oaks; but the all-resistless hurricane has swept over them, and left only, here and there, a lonely trunk, despoiled of its verdure, shorn of its foliage; unshading and unshaded, to murmur in a few gentle breezes, and to combat with its mutilated limbs, a few more ruder storms, then to sink, and be no more.

They were the pillars of the temple of liberty; and now, that they have crumbled away, that temple must fall, unless we, their descendants, supply their places with other pillars, hewn from the solid quarry of sober reason. Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence.–Let those materials be moulded into general intelligence, sound morality, and in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws: and, that we improved to the last; that we remained free to the last; that we revered his name to the last; that, during his long sleep, we permitted no hostile foot to pass over or desecrate his resting place; shall be that which to learn the last trump shall awaken our WASHINGTON.

Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest, as the rock of its basis; and as truly as has been said of the only greater institution, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”