Wiring

25Jan09

Reading Fortune’s Formula by William Poundstone, I find this anecdote about Claude Shannon, the towering genius who invented information theory:

Claude built things with his hands, almost compulsively, from youth to old age. One project was a telegraph set to tap out messages to a boyhood friend. The friend’s house was half a mile away. Shannon couldn’t afford that length of wire. Then one day he realized that there were fences marking the property lines. The fences were made of barbed wire. Shannon connected telegraph keys to each end of the wire fence. It worked. This ability to see clean and elegant solutions to complex problems distinguished Shannon throughout his life.

Ah! Wonderful. Think of the barbed-wire fences in education — then transform them!

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