Silicon Valley, often referred to as the cradle of innovation, has also ‘given’ us Dilbert, a successful and long standing comic strip, written and illustrated by Scott Adams, a long time resident of the San Francisco Bay Area. First published in 1989, Dilbert, an engineer, is the main character portrayed in a satirical office environment in a typical company. Reflecting the social and mental landscape of white-collar workers in modern corporations and other large enterprises, the daily comic strip Dilbert is popular around the world.
Russian Speaking Women in Tech, SiliconFrench and JHTC have organized a conversation with Scott Adams, a cartoonist (the creator of Dilbert) and author of several books, and Irina Blok, a designer and artist and the creator of the Android logo. In a casual and witty conversation, Marina Temkin, a business and technology journalist with Mergermarket, moderated a fun evening in Palo Alto, CA.
Everyone is familiar with Google’s Android’s mobile operating system (OS) and the cute green robot figure with its many graphical iterations. A kind of a symbol that represents a technology platform, Irina Blok said that she drew the Android logo concept in 5 minutes, then worked on improving it for several weeks. Android’s source code is released by Google under open source licenses. The open source includes the logo too and it is the first open source image of its kind.
What has inspired Blok when she created the Android logo?
She said that Google was going to revolutionize the global mobile industry and she felt that the logo had to convey such a breakthrough. After the initial drawings, Blok tried to humanize the Android brand and wanted to create a symbol that is likable. The thousands of various graphical ‘flavors’, characterizations and colors are a testament to her accomplishment. Click here to see them.
In the past 15 years Blok has worked for a number of tech companies including Yahoo, Google, Apple and Adobe. She runs Creative Blok, a little apparel design company inspired by what’s happening in the world today. She had appeared on ABC’s Reality Show Shark Tank as one of the contestants, and her products were featured in NBC’s Today show, USA today, SF weekly, NY Daily News, Elle Magazine and multiple publications around the world.
Pursuing a career in business, Scott Adams didn’t try to become a professional artist at first. He said he viewed the corporate world as a playground to learn how to become an entrepreneur, so he can eventually learn all the needed to skills to go and do ‘his own thing’. It has always been on Adams mind to pursue his own business. Holding a MBA, Adams felt he has been held back from promotions simply because corporations in Silicon Valley were looking to introduce diversity in management. He joked about essentially reverse discrimination. His Dilbert series came to national prominence through the downsizing period in the 1990s. Later, the comic strip has been distributed worldwide in over 2,000 newspapers in 65 countries and 25 languages. A former worker in various roles at big businesses, he became a full-time cartoonist in 1995.
When he left the corporate world Adams tried cartooning, however he encountered several rejections by various magazines. Being encouraged to persist by an early mentor, he finally was able to pursue his passion. Dilbert has brought fame to Adams. The comic strip has generated several books, an animated television series, a video game, and hundreds of Dilbert-themed merchandise items.
Adams described a process for ‘crafting’ humor that he called the six dimensions of humor. He talked about his “two of six” rule, noting that “all humor uses at least two of the six dimensions. Here they are:
Six Dimensions of Humor
Adams uses at least two for Dilbert, like clever and bizarre, but he said he adds sometimes another dimension like cruel. Three dimensions tend to deliver humor. Adams also pointed out that “sometimes less is more”. For example, Dilbert doesn’t have a mouth and he doesn’t have eyeballs. These ‘mistakes’ really add to the character and propel a more humorist effect.
Where do ideas for Dilbert clips come from?
The ‘stories’ for Dilbert strips come from various resources that Adams ‘digests’, from real life experiences, events, family members or friends insights, and Adams own reading and research. While the layer of technology and the office environment (like the notorious cubical office) change over time, the human interaction and behavior are really the same, regardless in which decade we live in. Dilbert uses a smartphone but we don’t know if its an iPhone or an Android. It comes down to endorsements and rights and, essentially, it doesn’t matter which phone brand Dilbert uses.
What would happen if Dilbert was working for Google? “Dilbert would probably work 23 hours a day and might have side projects,” Adams noted. Would he stay or get himself fired? The readers can take a guess.
About the organizers:
1. Russian Speaking Women in Tech (RWITnetwork) was established in 2014 by Lilia Shwarts and Julia Minkowski, working mothers, techies and entrepreneurs, wanted to create a place for women to who share the same passion: love of technology and community. Their events appear on Facebook.
2. SiliconFrench is a Bay area organization that bridges Francophone Europeans, Canadians and other professionals in the Silicon Valley, maintaining a strong presence in the francophile community of professionals, executives, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. Check SiliconFrench website for more information and events.
3. Jewish High Tech Community (JHTC) creates a community for High Tech professionals and their friends to enhance opportunities for education and to give back to the community, with the goal to improve the quality of life in the Silicon Valley for Jewish people working in and around technology. For more information about JHTC and events click here.