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Poetry in Motion

I’ve always been fascinated by the leap from consumer product to cultural icon — when and how this happens and, of course, when you notice it. Maybe it’s the first time you hear someone use Tivo as a verb. Or the first time you hear someone pronounce Target “Tar-zjay,” as if it were a tasty French cheese. I think another sign is when a product works its way into art, the way Andy Warhol and Campbell Soup are forever linked.

I’ve always been fascinated by the leap from consumer product to cultural icon — when and how this happens and, of course, when you notice it. Maybe it’s the first time you hear someone use Tivo as a verb. Or the first time you hear someone pronounce Target “Tar-zjay,” as if it were a tasty French cheese. I think another sign is when a product works its way into art, the way Andy Warhol and Campbell Soup are forever linked.

I came across another good example in this week’s New Yorker. David Friend wrote a clever back page poem called Thirteen Ways of Looking at a BlackBerry. I don’t even own one of these devices and yet each stanza resonated. Here’s No. 13:

What best fills
And quenches
The silence?
The BlackBerry
On
Or the BlackBerry
Off?

Which products do you think are on the verge of becoming the next cultural icons? Are you doing anything to nudge them in that direction?

About the author

Chuck Salter is a senior editor at Fast Company and a longtime award-winning feature writer for the magazine. In addition to his print, online and video stories, he performs live reported narratives at various conferences, and he edited the Fast Company anthologies Breakthrough Leadership, Hacking Hollywood, and #Unplug.

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