How many times have you heard it said about a musician, or an artist that they "sold out". Ohhhh, the horror. The Indignity. Is this not the worst condemnation that could be ever be applied? Our contemporary version of "selling out" seems to have been invented by the Woodstock Generation, (at least they seemed to popularize the concept), and it's the official scarlet letter for any young artist. A wider lens reveals that throughout history there have been a zillion examples of artists, or enterprising individuals with a concept, a business, or just the germ of an idea---who was faced with an offer they just couldn't refuse. Putting food on the table is a pretty strong motivational tool when it involves the decision-making process.

I just read an article (the article is in the current edition of "Adventure Cycling", but you can't get it---so I wiki'd it up---scroll down to "Company History") about the creator of the "Clif Bar," Gary Erickson, who turned down a $120 million dollar offer from Quaker Oats in 2000. One Hundred and Twenty Million Dollars. Why? He didn't want to give away the identity he'd established. For 120 mil, I'd keep the check and go establish me a couple more identities. However, the perception of selling out was perhaps not what we thought to begin with. Don't take my word for it, from the sounds of things Hopkins is re-inventing the discussion to fit the changing world of academic research. As the article states, science and industry are fast becoming best buds. Maybe you've got a different take? Let me know.

 

Alonzo LaMont

alonzo@jhmi.edu


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