Christmas dinner with seven innovators

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During the holiday season, Cyberans often find their thoughts turning to those who have made our progress possible, or who have inspired us.

This year, a few of us thought we would name an innovator (dead, alive or fictitious) that we would want to invite to join us for Christmas dinner. Here’s some of the responses:

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John Shillington, VP Technology

I’d invite William Blake. I think this quote from Wikipedia nicely sums up Blake’s unique genius: “The 19th-century scholar William Rossetti characterised him as a ‘glorious luminary’, and ‘a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors’.” Though Blake is best known as an amazing poet, artist and visionary, he was also a brilliant technical innovator in printmaking and graphic arts. I recently (and unexpectedly) had a unique opportunity to see some of his original works up close and personal in the Print Room at the Ashmolean Museum. It was almost as good as having Christmas dinner with him! 


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Joe TopjianSystems Architect

Gerard Kamphuisen, the supposed inventor of the Stroopwafel.

Regardless of how dinner turns out, at least dessert will be good.


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Iman Bukhari, Communications Officer

I would invite Captain Nemo, the pirate vigilante and scientific genius.

Captain Nemo roamed the depths of the sea in his submarine, the Nautilus, which he helped build on a deserted island. Nemo was a stern and confident man, but he was driven by a thirst for vengeance and remorse over the deaths of his loved ones.

Just imagine the dinner conversations…!


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Robin Winsor, President and CEO

Nikola Tesla. Picking one innovator was very hard, and I found myself alternating between a few. But ulimately, he rose to number one. Click here to find out why Tesla was the greatest geek who ever lived.


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Alyssa Moore, Executive Assistant

Johannes GutenbergThe printing press completely revolutionized and democratized communication and education — like a really slow 15th century precursor to the internet. Gutenberg would be so excited about Wikipedia.


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David Ackerman, Senior Developer

I would invite Jack White over. In his video “This Might Get Loud“, the guy builds a guitar with a couple of nails, a coke bottle, and a 2×4, and you can’t be much more DIY than that! I would probably argue with him over his aversion to digital recording, but his self-enforced minimalism is something that creative folks in any field can learn from, and I could listen to him talk about the creative process for hours. As technology increasingly removes limitations for us, it’s interesting to watch someone like White be so prolific by inventing his own (here’s an example of him explaining his process).


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Meagan Hampel, Director of Communications

Catherine the Great would be a fascinating person to have a conversation with. She was born to a poor royal family in Prussia (now Germany), but went on to become one of the longest-serving and most successful monarchs of Russia. This she accomplished at a time when: a) It was very hard to climb through class lines, and b) It was extremely difficult to be taken seriously as a female leader. I’m fascinated by people who are able to overcome bias and social barriers to get to the top. What’s innovative about her? Instead of seizing power through a military coup, she simply used her intelligence and personality to scrape her way to the top, and keep herself there for 34 years. I bet she would have some great advice on getting ahead in a male-dominated industry…


It is in this spirit we say, simply but sincerely… 

Thank you and Best Wishes for the Holiday Season!