For a good period, when posting to forums and such, I used the online handle “The Tesseract.” Now, thanks to the blockbusting movies Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers, a wider audience now knows what a tesseract is. At least, they know it as being a cube with glowy stuff inside of it. While it was cool of Marvel Studios to use such a device for their plot, I feel that their use was dumb and off the mark based on the science of what would allow a tesseract to exist. Clearly, their poor understanding of what a tesseract is, was a case of them not thinking outside of the box (or even inside it for that matter)
So, what is a tesseract? It is a four dimensional (4-D) construct. Before I can continue we need to start at a more basic level.
Imagine, if you will, a Square. Making your square are two axes, where one is length and the other width. That’s 2-D. Now, let’s add another dimension: depth. We now have a cube, which has three axes: depth, length and width. Now, let’s add another dimension and for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s time. We now have four dimensions. Now, because we can only see the present, we have to imagine that this fourth dimension renders a second cube enveloping the first. To sum it up quickly: the tesseract is to the cube as the cube is to the square.
For a more scientific explanation, please visit Wikipedia for a more thorough explanation involving fancy words like “polytopes” and “hypersurfaces.”
During my usage of the term as a handle or nickname, I often explained it to those who inquired. And often, I would lose people at some point shortly after beginning to explain. I eventually got wise to explain it as a cube within a cube, but instead of being 3-D, it’s 4-D.
Okay, now that we’ve got that covered, I can continue with the topic at hand. “Thinking outside the box”
I dislike that phrase. I really do. I think it may be one of the silliest phrases out there in the business world. Why? Because no matter what you do for a living, you are bound by the constructs (i.e. rules) that have been set in place by either the industry you work in or the company you work for. In Public Relations and Communications, there is a need for creative individuals to come up with all sorts of great ideas of how to get something noticed. Therefore, thinking outside of the box leads to a logical conclusion that your box is not full of great ideas from the start. Any self respecting communications pro would never admit to such a thing. But the truth is, they operate in the business of attempting to have boxes full of great ideas.
A good analogy I can think of here is a children’s toy box. Within the toy box are all sorts of toys and playthings. The only thing outside of the box is the child’s mind. A child’s imagination is a thing of wonder, constantly active; however, the neurons within a child’s head really start to fire when you open the toy box and present them with possibilities.
When you look at a photograph, how often do you think “I wonder what was going on over on the left?” Truth is, you don’t think that. The picture is what matters.
It’s Christmas (or Chanukah, or Kwanzaa or whichever). You’re given a wrapped up present. Do you stop and think, “I wonder what’s outside of this box?”
It’s time to “Think inside the box.” Enough of this outside nonsense! There’s nothing outside the box except for disorder and chaos. Or, if you are really perceptive, outside of the box, is just another box – the room that you currently stand in.
Why should we think inside the box? Because you’re ultimate job is to plan something and contain it. Thinking outside of the box can easily turn into a matter of thinking outside of the scope of a project. That is something you definitely don’t want to do. You need to keep things together – contained. What does a box do? It contains things.
Think outside the box: it’s a tired and extremely overused cliché.
Instead of thinking outside of the box, we really need to start thinking inside of it.