By now, you will have all seen Commander Chris Hadfield’s version of Bowie’s Space Oddity, recorded and filmed on the International Space Station. It is truly amazing. More than two hundred miles above the Earth, a man floated in a tin can, played his guitar and sent a song down here to those of us still on the planet.
My mind is still blown, not just by the amazing imagery, but the whole idea of this happening and what it means.
Go on, watch it again…
This world is changing so much. Things we take as normal could be gone in a couple of generations and things we can’t even imagine could be part of everyday life. Don’t believe me? Okay, yes, I too am disappointed we don’t yet have flying cars and robot butlers. But just consider the effect of 3D printers. Right now, for several grand, you can get a device that prints objects. Actual objects. Sure, they’re expensive and are limited in what they can do but what about in ten years? What if they’re in all our homes and capable of making much more than a pretty plastic model? Already the implications are becoming apparent with plans for 3D-printed guns hitting the Internet. More positively, we can print our own tools. Our own toys. Our own parts for almost anything.
What will that mean for industry? What value will manufacturing have? And if manufacturing has no value and plans are shared freely, what value has creation? Innovation? How will our economic models that served us well during industrial times stand up to change of that magnitude?
I don’t have all the answers. I am just using that one single device to illustrate the potential for society-altering change. Those of my age, of course, have seen such huge changes already. We are the generation who knows what it is like to live before the Internet and after it. I watch Mad Men and notice the lack of computers on the desks and I have to remind myself how we possibly got any work done without computers.
It is all changing.
So in a world where all is changing, what do we teach our children? What do I teach my girls? How about these – creativity, adaptability, problem solving. All good. Empathy, the will to do good. Great, I can see already we’re going to need each other as our planet changes. A love of learning, a search for knowledge, understanding, focus. Absolutely. Change can be influenced, steered, and a greater understanding of our world, our universe and just who we are can help us direct that change towards the positive, helping to make our lives better. Inspiration and aspiration, the belief that we can do amazing things and are capable of things thought previously impossible regardless of gender, race or social standing. Yes, yes, yes.
Commander Hadfield played a guitar in space and I think he has awed a whole generation. He entertained us. But he has done so much more – he has inspired us. The International Space Station is just the beginning of an amazing journey.
We can all play our part. I won’t get to space any time soon but I can inspire children to learn, to enjoy the wonders of our planetary neighbours. That’s why I created Planet Cosmo. It is entertainment first and foremost. Kids have to love the show, they have to laugh and smile and have to want to watch it. And they do. I have lovely mails from parents on how much their children enjoy it but those mails tell me the effect goes beyond the entertainment. My little show inspires – a love of learning, a new interest in space. I’m no Chris Hadfield but the reaction to the show tells me that our team at Geronimo Productions performed our space mission well. Our hard work paid off. And I have been so fortunate to work with such a dedicated team.
As I prepare to leave Geronimo at the end of this month, something that will be one of the biggest changes in my own life, I reflect back on what we have achieved and I can smile. But I’m also looking to the future, at what awesome gifts we can give the next generation to entertain them and inspire them, to enrich their lives both as children and adults.
It’s an adventure. Almost like packing my guitar and blasting off into space.
Well, not quite. But exciting nonetheless.
Thank you Commander Hadfield for entertaining us and inspiring us. And reminding me of two of the most important goals when creating content for children.