Turning The Dimmer Switch On The Light Bulbs Over Our Heads

Thomas edison glühbirne

Right after this, Edison held the bulb over his head and said, "Dude, take another picture". Then, he patented doing that. (image via Wikipedia)

Since the day after Thomas Edison perfected the light bulb, depicting a person with a light bulb over their head has been understood as a shorthand way of showing that person had a good idea.

In fact, the day after Edison invented the bulb, his publicist wrote a press release that very few people actually read. The release had a cover photo of the great inventor with a light bulb over his head. People intuitively knew what was in the release from looking at the picture. As a result, most who saw the document never bothered to go past the cover.

The new fluorescent bulbs are a great idea. They are efficient, last longer and are more environmentally friendly than Edison’s creation. As the old bulbs in my home died out, I replaced then with the new style bulbs. I like the light they provide and the savings I am realizing by using them.

But all is not well, my friends.

Future Generations, Stripped Of Ideas

Spiral shaped light bulb

Yeah, but...(Image via Wikipedia)

Despite my happiness, there is trouble in my energy efficient paradise. I’ve come to realize that the demise of the traditional light bulb is robbing us of the light bulb over the head thing. That curly que bulb just looks silly over a person’s head. But the old bulb will be as much a mystery to my grandchildren as a telephone with a dial is to my son.

How will the good idea moment be depicted in the future? When a cartoonist or a photographer needs to portray innovation and insight, they will be left without what is now a commonly understood visual expression.

It would be irresponsible for my generation to leave our grandchildren and great-grandchildren without a graphic representation of the good idea moment. It was during my generation that we moved past Edison’s bulb. It was during my generation that we took innovation and its perfect depiction away from the future.

Well, I am not going to sit here and do nothing about it.

A Call To Action

I’m not going to sit here and do nothing about it. At the same time, I realize I am not sharp enough to come up with the idea that will replace the bulb over the head. My call to action isn’t to myself, it is to you.

For inexplicable reasons, very bright, inventive people read Blurt. I am asking all of you to put your minds to this problem. Tell us all what you think would be the best depiction of innovation. You don’t have to draw it, just write a comment and let’s see what comes out of this.

I have confidence in you, Blurt readers. This problem can be solved. I’m sure it will happen here.

I’m looking forward to seeing the light bulbs come on over your heads.


45 Comments on “Turning The Dimmer Switch On The Light Bulbs Over Our Heads”

  1. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    I don’t know how to draw a “brain fart.”

  2. We found him Captain!! says:

    I think that the original fluorescent (long tubular) light bulb should replace the incandescent one when depicting a person having a good idea. I feel that the tube should proceed north from the top of the head with the tiny prongs in a vertical position. Amen!

  3. madtante says:

    Have you seen the new adverts? I don’t watch a ton of TV but watched about 90 minutes of Taken (they were running a marathon or something and I had taken a stress-vaca-day)–anyhoo! They have a thing that looks more like a bulb now. Sort of.

  4. planetross says:

    A “$” sign would probably be the best replacement for the lightbulb: everyone gets that one. Money and Great Ideas are two different things, but nowadays I don’t think most people know the difference. (sadly)

    note: “Eureka!” might still be easily identifiable. ( I’ve never known what “Eureka!” really meant, but I know it means something good … maybe future generations will just carry on with this one)

  5. This is a hard one, Oma…I got nothin’! I have enough “CRAFT moments” (Can’t Remember a Friggin’ Thing) now…


  6. Seems like an easy answer to me: Draw Pop-Tarts instead.

  7. shoutabyss says:

    I don’t know if I can materially add to this discussion. I’m just a dim bulb.

  8. jacquelincangro says:

    Let’s replace the light bulb image with a smart phone.

  9. I say replace the light bulb with a dog turd, since that’s what most recent inventions are worth. Oh whoops, am I showing my bad attitude toward technology?

  10. Elly Lou says:

    “Duh. Winning.” in a thought bubble?

  11. Kim Pugliano says:

    I’m too busy laughing at all of the other ideas to come up with my own. Dammit! I hate when others are smarter and funnier than me! I have OCD and therefore this is ALL I will think about today.

    • omawarisan says:

      It is a conundrum….you can do this!

      • We found him Captain!! says:

        THAT’S IT!! Draw a picture of a conundrum over your head….. Aren’t those the things you buy it the drugstore when nobody’s looking? Hey! Am I / showing my age here? I understand you get them free now in high school during recess.
        Anyway, I think conundrums are the way to go with this. Please disregard my previous idea about using the old style long tube fluorescent light bulb. I like this one better.

  12. Katybeth says:

    I have no idea if this will work….

  13. Z.N. Singer says:

    A light switch in the ‘up’ position, with dynamic lines showing it just snapped on? Neatly circumvent all advances to come, a solid investment in future expressions of genius.

  14. I’d like to see a cartoon attempt punctuating a good idea with a long fluorescent cylinder light bulb or an LED strip.

  15. Laura says:

    I’d suggest a bathtub, in honor of the original “Eureka!” moment. Or a cup of coffee, because I’ve found that whenever someone suggests going for coffee, it’s usually a good idea.

  16. Spectra says:

    I think Pizza. Pizza is always a good idea. Then you could sell Ad space over the pizza. You know, Dominos, Pizza hut. Papa Johns. Eventually, you get rid of the pizza, and just have advertisements over peoples heads. Everyone will understand, a good idea is on deck. (sponsored by Good Year)

  17. jammer5 says:

    Replacing the light bulb with a mallet of some sort would save electricity and be greener.

  18. Todd Pack says:

    I noticed an error in the cutline to your picture of Thomas Edison. Actually, some other inventer held a light bulb over his head first, prompting Edison to file his patent, which resulted in a protracted legal fight which Edison eventually won because he had the most money.

    Anyway, to answer your question, I don’t think the cliche of the incandescent bulb representing a good idea is going away anytime soon just because the technology has changed. I mean, I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, and I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel, but these kinds of cliches seem to last forever. It’s a good question, though, so I’ll put on a record album and keep my nose to the grindstone.

    • Yahooey says:

      I got beat to the punch on the broken record 😦 I was working on a way to include the fact that record players are another unoriginal invention of Edison.

      I do think some of these expressions and images will fade away with time. The number of times I’ve had to explain the analogue world depicted in cartoons to my daughter… .

      • Todd Pack says:

        It’s like the old Calvin & Hobbes cartoon where Calvin’s dad explains that photos were always in color; it’s just that in the old days, the world itself was in black and white.

  19. Kim Kardashian with tape over her mouth? That’s a good idea!

    Aplogies, I jut watched Keeping up with the Kardashians

  20. I have no suggestions as I seldom have an idea..well not entirely true..but wanted to. say hi…sent here by Office your site!

    • omawarisan says:

      well thank you for taking her recommendation Chris and welcome here!

      No worries on no suggestions…I had no idea either but knew folks here would have some.

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