Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Get Shaken & Stirred at The Edge of Chaos

Have you ever heard what it's like inside the offices of Google? Imagine a series of clean, open spaces filled with pool tables and arcade games in case employees need a mental break. Sounds like an awesome place to work, right?

UAB now has its own Google-esque space and it is opening soon for everyone, not just the UAB-folk. It’s called The Edge of Chaos.

“The Edge of Chaos is a space we created on the top floor of Lister Hill Library as an opportunity for faculty, students, and Birmingham community members to come up and get together to talk about difficult, complex problems,” explains Max Michael, M.D., dean of the UAB School of Public Health and the visionary behind this new space.




“The hope is TEOC will serve as a crucible for people to work on new ideas, new businesses, new courses and new activities that will lead to the next level of science and new knowledge,” Michael adds.

The Edge of Chaos
The inspiration behind Michael’s vision: Steven Johnson, author of “Where Good Ideas Come From.” In this bestseller, Johnson argues that “ideas flourish where there is openness and connectivity as opposed to competition or efforts to protect and isolate ideas.” This perfectly describes the area now known as The Edge of Chaos. The space includes conference and media rooms with interactive whiteboards, a large chalkboard wall, mobile sofas and desks, glassed-in offices and other amenities to stimulate thought — including a foosball table.

“In his book, Johnson says good ideas emerge from the space between absolute randomness and absolute chaos, which he calls the edge of chaos,” says Michael. “So for us, it’s that space between those two ways of thinking.”

Johnson sounds pretty innovative, right? There’s a chance to hear his ideas first hand coming up soon. He’ll be here at The Edge of Chaos’ grand opening celebration, Shaken & Stirred, on Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 from 5:30-7:00 p.m., sharing his thought-provoking words with guests. 

“I think it's going to be a great opportunity to bring community leaders back to the UAB campus to see the opportunities in The Edge of Chaos; the opportunities for their thought leaders — business and corporation leaders — to meet with the thought leaders we have here,” says Michael. “This is a chance to link the intellectual capital of UAB with the businesses, corporations and organizations of a metropolitan area and I think it is extraordinary and is what The Edge of Chaos is all about.”

About the blogger: Nicole Wyatt, nwyatt@uab.edu, is a media specialist in the UAB Office of Media Relations. Her beat includes the School of Public Health, School of Optometry, and areas in health care and medical research.

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