I have been thinking about the final paper, and I believe I’m coming to a topic. Since we were encouraged to write about something we’re passionate about, I’ve been thinking about music. I’m really intrigued by the life of Bob Dylan, but I wasn’t sure how this would fit with this paper. But consider this:

There are times when designers go against the trends and design things that the market isn’t necessarily wanting. It’s a huge risk for a company to take on these projects, but sometimes they spark new trends that didn’t exist before. So when is it the right time and place to take such risks?

An example of this can be found when Bob Dylan “went electric.” He had become the icon of folk music by 1965, and was a voice of several movements (Civil Rights and the protest movement). Fans of folk music considered the acoustic guitar, vocals and harmonica to be the purest form of music, and snubbed their nose towards music driven by electric guitars. So when Bob Dylan came onto the stage with a rock band in 1965 at the Newport Folk Festival, the audience came unglued (he was the headliner of this festival). His fans began to boo loudly, and Dylan rushed off the stage after three songs. He came back with an acoustic guitar and harmonica and performed several songs… to the applause of the same people that had booed him moments earlier. Little did they know that Dylan had sparked the folk-rock genre.

Dylan toured the UK in 1966, performing the first half of the show as an acoustic set, and brought his rock band out for the second half. During most shows, the audience would listen politely during the acoustic set, but would react loudly with jeers during the rock set. This can be heard in the bootleg recording (considered to be one of the most famous live recordings in rock music history) of Bob Dylan – Live 1966 “The Royal Albert Hall Concert” The Bootleg Series Vol. 4. Near the end of the show the audience can be heard attempting to throw Dylan off beat by clapping at a different rhythm. One fan even shouted out, “Judas!”, with Dylan responding, “I don’t believe you. You’re a liar!” They didn’t realize at the time how this tour was sparking a new genre that would become quite popular.

Prior to the release of the first iPad, Steve Jobs chose this live recording as the background music at the Apple event. Moments before Jobs took the stage, the lyrics could be heard, “Something’s happening here, but you don’t know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?” It was as if Jobs was telling the world, “You may not understand why I’m releasing the iPad, but you will understand someday.” It was a risk that he took, and many critics initially rejected it, yet it gave credence to the struggling tablet market.

I would like to explore this dynamic of risk taking as designers in my final paper. Thoughts?