Thursday, 15 November 2012

Potato Washing Monkeys




Researchers in Japan in the fifties observed that a few monkeys on the island of Koshima, with a taste for sweet potatoes, began taking the mud-caked delicacies they excavated down to the sea to wash before eating. The researchers then observed this custom spread quickly among the monkey population of Koshima and soon to neighbouring islands.

This research was popularized by various writers in the seventies and eighties, including Rupert Sheldrake who saw it as evidence of his theory of morphic rensonance. This he described in his book The New Science of Life as ‘the basis of memory in nature… the idea of mysterious telepathy-like interconnections between organisms and of collective memories within species’. An idea similar in many respects to Jung’s “Collective Unconscious”.

Personally, I’m a believer – especially in light of our recent software development experience.



About six months ago, our technology director and I were kicking some ideas around and became very excited about developing a mobile app for exhibitor lead retrieval. Using their mobile phones, exhibitors at events would capture information about attendees who dropped by their stand simply by scanning a QR code on the visitors’ badge. No more charging scanning devices, renting them out, collecting them at the close of the event and downloading data.

Great idea.

We proceeded to design a slick and sophisticated mobile app to run on both i-phones and android devices and oversaw the development of this app alongside a myriad of other tasks.

Finally, the app is ready to launch. We are still excited, but we also note that in the intervening six months, a number of other apps have appeared on the market that do a similar job to ours.

There are both negatives and positives here. On the minus side, we have a lot of competition (though we would like to think that our app has several advantages over those of most of our competitors – such as being multi-lingual and providing automatic synchronization with our registration server).

On the plus side, we feel our vision has been fully vindicated. Without sharing our ideas with others or gleaning theirs from them, we are somehow fully attuned to the direction in which the market is heading.

In short, we are washing our potatoes along with all those other monkeys!