Monday, May 5, 2014

Mad Men: The rise of the machines and the poetry of counting stars.

IBM 360 Image source here

In the episode of Mad Men entitled The Monolith, the introduction of the first computer in the ad agency stirs up quite a fuss, not the least with the creative personnel suddenly feeling threatened and obsolete. After working in advertising since 2001, I am more and more convinced that what matters the most is the concept, never the execution tools. And here I find myself reminded of the words of late design genius Rick Tharp who said: "I can draw a better line than a computer, not a straighter line, a better line" or at the main protagonist of the Mad Men show puts it when he was told: "The IBM 360 can count more stars in a day than we can in a lifetime." So Don Draper actually answers:
"But what man laid on his back counting stars and thought about a number?"
And that, boys and girls, is pure poetry (even if coming from an alcoholic with a shattered life).

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