RESOURCEFULNESS and INNOVATION as PERSONAL ATTRIBUTES: Resourcefulness is creativity in action. It is taking the available resources, using them to the fullest and thereby finding an answer or invention or a new discovery that was previously unseen. “-fulness” is key: the answer was available all along but by making fuller use of the resources their potential becomes realized in innovation.
HISTORY of INNOVATION: The story of human progress in science, technology, the arts and other fields is a major dynamic in the broad field of study we call history. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel” but having the wheel gives us an essential technological resource that paves the way to inventing other things, such as the chariot and the automobile. This interplay between resourcefulness, innovation and desire often takes unexpected turns: our innovations can inspire more innovations or lead to complacency. In the broad scheme of human history, however, there is no doubt that innovation has led to more innovation and to the expression of resourcefulness in new and more sophisticated ways.
Great inventors and discoverers:
- Randall E. Stross, The Wizard of Menlo Park: How Thomas Alva Edison Invented the Modern World (Three Rivers Press, 2008). (The Johns Hopkins University Press is publishing Edison’s complete papers.)
- Maury Klein, The Power Makers: Steam, Electricity and the Men Who Invented America (Bloomsbury Press, 2008).
- Alan W. Hirschfeld, The Electric Life of Michael Faraday (Walker & Company, 2006).
- Kirkpatrick Sale, The Fire of His Genius: Robert Fulton and the American Dream (Free Press, 2001).
- Amir D. Aczel, Pendulum: Léon Foucault and the Triumph of Science (Atria, 2003).
- Basil Mahon, The Man Who Changed Everything: The Life of James Clerk Maxwell (Wiley, 2003).
- Lloyd Steven Seiden, Buckminster Fuller's Universe (Basic Books, 1989).
- Ben Marsden, Watt's Perfect Engine: Steam and the Age of Invention (Columbia University Press, 2004).
- John Man, Gutenberg: How One Man Remade the World With Words (MJF, 2002).
- Michael Lemonick The Georgian Star: How William and Caroline Herschel Revolutionized Our Understanding of the Cosmos (Atlas, 2008).
- Jeanne Bendick, Archimedes and the Door of Science (Franklin Watts, Inc., 1962).
- Sherman Stein, Archimedes: What Did He Do Besides Cry Eureka (The Mathematical Association of America, 1999).
- C. D. Andriesse, Huygens: The Man Behind the Principle (Cambridge University Press, 2005).
- C. Michael Mellor, Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius (National Braille Press, 2006).
- Kenneth Silverman, Lightning Man: The Accursed Life of Samuel F. B. Morse (Da Capo Press, 2004).
- Joel N. Shirkin, Broken Genius: The Rise and Fall of William Shockley, Creator of the Electronic Age (MacMillan, 2006).
- Constance McLaughlin Greene, Eli Whitney and the Birth of American Technology (Little Brown, 1956).
- Suzanne Guy and Donna Lacy, The Music Box: The Story of Cristofori (Brunswick Publishing Corp., 1998).
- Stephen Sondheim, Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes (Knopf, 2010).
- William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope (William Morrow, 2009).
- Kristin Sterling, Mary McLeod Bethune: A Life of Resourcefulness (Lerner Publications, 2007).
- Mark Kurlansky, Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man (Doubleday, 2012): a biography of Clarence Birdseye, inventor of frozen food methods, “'a foodie in reverse,’ a man who ‘loved food, loved to cook, . . . ate wild local food and artisinally made products . . . but who dreamed of making food industrial.’”
- David N. Schwartz, The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age (Basic Books, 2018): “ . . . the sudden death of his beloved brother . . . precipitated an intense lifelong privacy and a personal and scientific strategy of quantifying the world.”
- Richard Rhodes, Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough of Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World (Doubleday, 2011): Lamarr partnered with composer George Anthiel to develop a weapons system. “What drew Rhodes to the twin story of the Bad Boy of Music and ‘the most beautiful woman in the world’ was their invention of a radio-controlled “spread spectrum” torpedo-guidance system, for which they received a patent in 1942.”
- Jon Gertner, The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation (Penguin Press, 2012): “ . . . a well-researched history of Bell Labs, filled with colorful characters and inspiring lessons.”
- Edmund Morris, Edison (Random House, 2019): “His archive runs to five million pages, including the pocket notebooks he carried everywhere to record the ideas that came in torrents, and the brutally frank letters he wrote about the failures of immediate family members he otherwise studiously ignored. Were it left solely to Edison, he would have locked himself away in his lab, emerging every few months to announce yet another miraculous discovery.”
- Katie Booth, The Invention of Miracles: Language, Power, and Alexander Graham Bell’s Quest to End Deafness (Simon & Schuster, 2021): “Booth’s descriptions of Bell’s passionate courtship of his student Mabel Hubbard, who belonged to a much higher social class, are as stirring as a romance novel, and her narrative of his work on the telephone reads like a thriller.”
- David A. Price, Geniuses at War: Bletchley Park, Colossus, and the Dawn of the Digital Age (Knopf, 2021): “Price, a prolific historian who has a degree in computer science, argues that Bletchley also should be known for developing the first genuine computer, and so initiating the Information Age.”
- Frank Close, Elusive: How Peter Higgs Solved the Mystery of Mass (Basic Books, 2022): “At a basic level, Higgs’s theory belongs to a fundamental and puzzling question: Where does the mass of the universe come from? Using the known rules of physics, from electromagnetism to quantum mechanics, Higgs raised the possibility of an unstable subatomic particle that, through a series of fizzing interactions, could lend mass to other particles. He predicted this particle would be a boson — a notably massive subatomic particle that helps hold matter together — and that it would exist in an energy field that enabled the interactions.”
- Wikipedia list of inventors
Histories of innovation and invention:
- Neil MacGregor, A History of the World in 100 Objects (Viking Adult, 2011).
- Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation (Riverhead, 2010).
- Thomas Wynn and Frederick L. Coolidge, How to Think Like a Neanderthal (Oxford University Press, 2011). “Homo sapiens had the gift of innovation, and that proved decisive.”
- James Kaplan, Irving Berlin: New York Genius (Yale University Press, 2019): “As long as there are hearts to swell, ‘Always’ and ‘How Deep Is the Ocean’ will swell them. The introduction of ragtime into America’s musical consciousness will forever have ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ as its soundtrack.”
- Walter Isaacson, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution (Simon & Schuster, 2014): “The digital pioneers all loathed authority, embraced collaboration and prized art as much as science.”
- Tom Standage, A Brief History of Motion: From the Wheel, to the Car, to What Comes Next (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021): an “eminently readable history of 5,000 years of human movement — movement undertaken not by foot or by feather, but by way of the wheel, the profoundly simple device that is currently believed to have been invented in what is today Poland or Ukraine about 3500 B.C.”
- Lindsey Fitzharris, The Facemaker: A Visionary Surgeon’s Battle to Mend the Disfigured Soldiers of World War I (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2022): “. . . Gillies, at least as he is presented here, was innovative, buoyant and relentlessly hopeful. He had to be — how else would he even think to fashion a nose by taking a patient’s rib bones and attaching them to the patient’s shoulder to build new cartilage, for grafting onto the face?”
Other narratives on resourcefulness:
- Caroline Fraser, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Metropolitan Books , 2017): “Harvesting from the West an inestimable treasure of experiences and observations, these adventurers then refined this raw material into reminiscences, novels, diaries, letters, reports and tales of adventure, both actual and imagined.”
- Annie Jacobsen, Operation Papercup: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America (Little, Brown & Company, 2014): “ . . . skillfully rendered are the stories of American and British officials who scoured defeated Germany for Nazi scientists and their research.”
- Charles Seife, Hawking Hawking: The Selling of a Scientific Celebrty (Basic Books, 2021): “ Seife succeeds in serving up something of the flavor of those difficult and rather esoteric ideas, which are the heart of Hawking’s contribution to science, in a way that won’t give general readers indigestion.”
- James Curtis, Buster Keaton: A Filmmaker’s Life (Knopf, 2022): “How Buster Keaton Turned Slapstick — and Movies — Into Art”. Dana Stevens, Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the Twentieth Century (Atria, 2022), “contextualizes Keaton’s achievements in a way that Curtis does not.”
Technical and Analytical Readings
- Michael Rosenbaum, Self-control under stress: The role of learned resourcefulness, Advances in Behaviour Research and Therapy, Volume 11, Issue 4, 1989, pp. 249-258.
- Jaclene A. Zauszniewski, Theoretical and Empirical Considerations of Resourcefulness, Journal of Nursing Scholarship, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp. 177-180, September 1995.
- Jaclene A. Zauszniewski, Abir K. Bekhet and Elizabeth Bonham, Psychometric Testing of the Children's Resourcefulness Scale, Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, Volume 23, Issue 3, pages 181–188, August 2010.
- Jaclene A. Zauszniewski, Chien-Yu Lai and Sukuma Tithiphontumrong, Developing and Testing of the Resourcefulness Scale for Older Adults, Journal of Nursing Measurement, Volume 14, Number 1, 2006 , pp. 57-68(12).
- Jaclene A. Zauszniewski, Sandra J. Fulton Picot, Beverly L. Roberts, Sara M. Debanne and May L. Wykle, Predictors of Resourcefulness in African American Women, Journal of Aging and Health, October 2005 vol. 17 no. 5 609-633.
- Jaclene A. Zauszniewski, ChaeWeon Chung, Hsiu-Ju Chang and Karen Krafcik, Predictors of resourcefulness in school-aged children, Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 2002, Vol. 23, No. 4 , Pages 385-401.
- Anne D. Simons, Patrick J. Lustman, Richard D. Wetzel and George E. Murphy, Predicting Response to Cognitive Therapy of Depression: The Role of Learned Resourcefulness, Cognitive Therapy and Research, Volume 9, Number 1, 79-89, October 2007.
- Diane Mavers, Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, Semiotic resourcefulness: A young child's email exchange as design, August 2007, Volume 7, No. 2, pp. 155-176.
- Michael Rosenbaum and Noami Palmon, Helplessness and Resourcefulness in Coping With Epilepsy, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Volume 52, Issue 2, April 1984, pp. 244-253.
- M. Rosenbaum and S. Benyosef, The more I know about the war the more I fear ? : Information seeking and resourcefulness during the gulf war in Israel, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 1995, vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 205-224.
- Gordon L. Flett, Paul L. Hewitt, Kirk Blankstein and Sean O'Brien, Perfection and learned resourcefulness in depression and self-esteem, Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp. 61-68.
- Michael Rosenbaum and Karin Ben-Ari, Learned Helpless and Learned Resourcefulness: Effects of Non-Contingent Success and Failure on Individuals Differing in Self-Control Skills, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Volume 48, Issue 1, January 1985, pp. 198-215.
- Serap Akgun and Joseph Ciarrochi, Learned Resourcefulness Moderates the Relationship Between Academic Stress and Academic Performance, Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology, 1469-5820, Volume 23, Issue 3, 2003, Pages 287 – 294
- Serap Akgun, The Effects of Situation and Learned Resourcefulness on Coping Responses, Social Behavior and Personality, Volume 32, Number 5, 2004, pp. 441-448.
- Michael P. Carey, Kate B. Carey, C. L. M. Carnrike Jr., and Andrew W. Meisler, Learned Resourcefulness, Drinking and Smoking in Young Adults, Journal of Psychology, Vol. 124, 1990.
- David Edwards, Creating Things That Matter: The Art and Science of Innovations That Last (Henry Holt & Company, 2018): “Our current system for innovating, Edwards says, ‘is falling short of addressing today’s challenges.’ He offers a new model for creating things that can be hopeful, helpful — and commercially viable.”
- Pagan Kennedy, Inventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016): “It turns out that the people most likely to solve problems on InnoCentive are outsiders to the problem’s field.”
Technological progress, the fruit of resourcefulness and innovation on a grand scale:
- Michael Belfiore, The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World From the Internet to Artificial Limbs (Smithsonian Books, 2009): “The heroes of (this) book work for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as Darpa, a secretive arm of the United States government. And the revolution they’re leading is a merger of humans with machines.”
Documentary and Educational Films
- Filmed at “the world’s largest garbage dump, near Rio de Janeiro,” Waste Land chronicles the lives of “pickers,” who make their living salvaging recyclable materials from the refuse and serving the cause of environmentalism in the process.
- Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone: chronicling a ska-punk rock band that found a way to be successful despite internal and external obstacles
- Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story recounts how an internationally famous actress, widely known for her physical beauty, discovered a method in technology that aided the Allied effort in World War II, and then led to many of the communications technologies we have today.
It was thought that he must, in the past, have lived a country life, since he knew all sorts of useful secrets, which he taught to the peasants. He taught them how to destroy scurf on wheat, by sprinkling it and the granary and inundating the cracks in the floor with a solution of common salt; and how to chase away weevils by hanging up orviot in bloom everywhere, on the walls and the ceilings, among the grass and in the houses. He had "recipes" for exterminating from a field, blight, tares, foxtail, and all parasitic growths which destroy the wheat. He defended a rabbit warren against rats, simply by the odor of a guinea-pig which he placed in it. One day he saw some country people busily engaged in pulling up nettles; he examined the plants, which were uprooted and already dried, and said: "They are dead. Nevertheless, it would be a good thing to know how to make use of them. When the nettle is young, the leaf makes an excellent vegetable; when it is older, it has filaments and fibres like hemp and flax. Nettle cloth is as good as linen cloth. Chopped up, nettles are good for poultry; pounded, they are good for horned cattle. The seed of the nettle, mixed with fodder, gives gloss to the hair of animals; the root, mixed with salt, produces a beautiful yellow coloring-matter. Moreover, it is an excellent hay, which can be cut twice. And what is required for the nettle? A little soil, no care, no culture. Only the seed falls as it is ripe, and it is difficult to collect it. That is all. With the exercise of a little care, the nettle could be made useful; it is neglected and it becomes hurtful. It is exterminated. How many men resemble the nettle!" He added, after a pause: "Remember this, my friends: there are no such things as bad plants or bad men. There are only bad cultivators." [Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (1862), Volume I – Fantine; Book Fifth – The Descent Begins, Chapter III, Sums Deposited with Laffitte.]
- Laura Vaccaro Seeger, First the Egg (Roaring Brook Press, 2007).
- David Wiesner, Sector 7 (Clarion, 1999).
- Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (MacMillan and Company, 1868).
- Salvador Dali, Neo-Cubist Academy (Composition With Three Figures) (1926)
Film and Stage
- Hugo, an allegory about how we fashion our lives from the spare parts available to us
- Exploring a similar theme, the philosophical allegory and “parable about life” Woman in the Dunes(Suna no Onna) is “a long, leaden, grueling account of the arguing and quarreling and lovemaking of a man and a woman trapped in a shack at the bottom of a sand pit amid some remote and desolate dunes”
- Salaam Bombay!: a ten-year-old boy learns to survive in the streets of Bombay after being banished from his home for damaging a bicycle
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Franz Josef Haydn is widely credited with the invention of the string quartet, which has become among the most popular forms of classical music. He came upon the form by accident, when a nobleman requested a composition for the musicians he had available: two violinists, a violist and a cellist. Haydn composed seventy-seven string quartets under fifteen opus numbers, changing chamber music forever. Haydn’s string quartets retain the divertimenti style through Opus 17 but Opus 9 marks a leap forward from the earlier works, allowing us to hear the master’s invention of string quartet in progression.
Opus 9 (1769)
- Quartet No. 11 in D minor, Op. 9, No. 4, FHE No. 16, Hoboken No. III:22
- Quartet No. 12 in C major, Op. 9, No. 1, FHE No. 7, Hoboken No. III:19
- Quartet No. 13 in G major, Op. 9, No. 3, FHE No. 9, Hoboken No. III:21
- Quartet No. 14 in E♭major, Op. 9, No. 2, FHE No. 8, Hoboken No. III:20
- Quartet No. 15 in B♭major, Op. 9, No. 5, FHE No. 17, Hoboken No. III:23
- Quartet No. 16 in A major, Op. 9, No. 6, FHE No. 18, Hoboken No. III:24
Opus 74 (“Aponyi” quartets, set 2, 1793)
- Quartet No. 57 in C major, Op. 74, No. 1, FHE No. 28, Hoboken No. III:72
- Quartet No. 58 in F major, Op. 74, No. 2, FHE No. 29, Hoboken No. III:73
- Quartet No. 59 in G minor ("Rider"), Op. 74, No. 3, FHE No. 30 , Hoboken No. III:74
Opus 77 (“Lobkowitz” quartets, 1799)
- Quartet No. 66 in G major, Op. 77, No. 1, FHE No. 13, Hoboken No. III:81
- Quartet No. 67 in F major, Op. 77, No. 2, FHE No. 14, Hoboken No. III:82
Other works, from other composers:
- Humperdinck, Hänsel and Gretel: two children use their wits to survive (performances conducted by Karajan, Solti and Suitner)
- Bach, Two- and Three-Part Inventions for keyboard (performances by Růžičková, Nilolayeva [piano] and Gould [piano])
- Ben Johnston employs a 53-tone scale in his String Quartet No. 2 (1964).
- Klebe, 4 Inventionen
- Gubaidulina, Quaternion, for cello quartet (1996): making new uses of the cello with methods such as quarter-tuning
- Shostakovich composed his String Quartet No. 7 in F-sharp minor, Op. 108 (1960) after his divorce from his second wife. His first wife, whom he adored, had died, leaving him a widower. In this quartet he returns to some old forms but with a new understanding and greater maturity.
- D’Indy, Symphony No. 2 in B-flat Major, Op. 57 (1903), presents “a musical argument outlining the tension between tradition and innovation.” [Dominic Wells, in the notes for this album]
- Blitzstein, Airborne Symphony (1945)
- The Art Ensemble (precursor name for The Art Ensemble of Chicago), May 18, May 19 and June 26, 1967 sessions
- George Rochberg, 50 Caprice Variations for unaccompanied violin (1970)
Gebhard Ullmann and Basement Research have created albums whose titles suggest invention of the tangible and the abstract:
- “Impromptus and Other Short Works”
- “Hat and Shoes” (Note the clever album cover: many shoes and one hat.)
“Praised as heirs of amazonic psychedelia and chicha traditions, as well as innovators, Bareto’s concerts should be promoted as dance parties.” Their instrumentation and style are fascinating and addictive.
- “El Amor No es Para Los Débiles” (2021)
- “Impredicible” (2015)
- “Ves Lo Que Quieres Ver” (2012)
- “Cumbia” (2008)
- “Boleto” (2006)