Good Reads: Innovation and survival as seen through caveman cosmetics factory, post-Jobs Apple
Today's Good Reads focuses on offbeat news stories, including the discovery of a 100,000-year-old caveman cosmetics factory in a South African cave, and a profile of a young executive at Apple who may keep the creative juices flowing.
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Amina Khan, in the Los Angeles Times, writes that paint doesn’t have much utilitarian value, but early humans began to find a need to distinguish themselves from each other as their numbers grew.Skip to next paragraph
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... the ability to mix and use paint signals a lot of important behaviors that are key to social and cognitive development, said Alison Brooks, a paleoanthropologist at George Washington University who was not involved in the study. Unlike weapons, utensils or other artifacts, paint has little utilitarian value. Paint could be used to decorate objects, clothing or the body, often to send a social message in an increasingly complex society.
"If you only see the same people in the same face-to-face group you've known your entire life, there's no need to make a statement," she said. And as those groups became larger and people traveled farther from home, "there was a need to demonstrate to somebody — at a considerable distance, before they could shoot you — who you were."
One hundred thousand years later, humans are still obsessed with innovation and survival, and nowhere more is this true than in Cupertino, Calif., where the Apple Corporation is struggling to find its way in a post-Steve Jobs world. Businessweek magazine’s Adam Satariano focuses on one young man, Scott Forstall, who shares both the positive and the negative qualities that made the late Mr. Jobs such a powerful force (and a polarizing figure) in the high-tech industry.
Like Jobs, Forstall has an ability to motivate his team to drive for perfection, and his rise as head of the software side of Apple’s business comes at a time when software and business applications are fast outpacing the innovations of the hardware itself. But if executives like Forstall are to succeed in leading Apple to new success, they’ll have to overcome significant internal rivalries to do so, Mr. Satariano writes.
Apple’s executives “have to learn new roles, but if somebody among them rises up and lords over the others, they can be resented for being presumptuous, [of trying to] assume Steve Jobs’s legacy,” says Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean of the Yale University School of Management. “But if they treat it as a shared legacy, there is a way to keep that spirit alive.”