Boxing clever

2013

Since the invention of containerization, the transfer of goods so that they arrive in pristine condition no matter how far they have travelled has become commonplace.

Devised originally on a small scale by Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward in 1829, glazed wooden boxes allowing light and condensed moisture in, but keeping airborne pollutants and inclement elements out, enabled British ferns and grasses to be shipped successfully to Australia. In time, indigenous Australian species were returned to Britain in the same way.

The introduction of metal containers of the size and type we know today is attributed to one Malcom Purcell McLean (three distinctive names are obviously necessary if you want to box clever!). Whatever, this trucker from North Carolina decided to refit two disused World War Two tankers in such a way that metal containers could be offloaded straight from the trucks that had driven them overland, stowed on board and shipped intact to anywhere in the world.

Thus containerization began - and according to Harold Evans in a slightly contentious Ted talk, it was a catalyst that transformed the modern global economy and paved the way for globalization.

It's worth pointing out that Ted Talks, with their strict twenty- minute time limits, are themselves containers. Their cargo is ideas and, as with any other container's contents, once they have reached their final destination ideas too have to undergo a process of offloading and unpacking.

But goods in McClean-type containers arrive unchanged, as seeds held in various husks and pods would do. Goods transported in Ted's digital containers contain living plants already freed from a capsular state. This means that growth and change is likely to have occurred during the voyage to their receptors.

Some may have wilted before they are removed -though thoughtful nursing may bring them back to life. Others may already be blooming or have snags and thorns so that they catch the person offloading and handling them with delight or disgust. It all depends on the receptiveness of the unpacker.

Ideas are living things too. Once they are delivered, it is up to an unpacker to handle them according to ways that appear best to her or him.

It is therefore of vital importance that the person boxing in their ideas in the first place knows what they hope those ideas will grow into, and that they send them with sufficient root, soil, nourishment and instruction to successfully grow on in another person's mind.

It may be that one person when opening the box will have innovative ideas about how best to unpack and process its contents, yet another may take one look and decide to leave the lot to rot.

The person who boxed and sent the ideas can do nothing about that. But what they can do before letting their ideas go, is to make sure that they have been designed and packaged in as accessible and inviting a way as possible, and that every care has been taken to ensure that those ideas relate to and can easily become rooted in the culture to which they are being sent.

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About The Author

Janet Howd
Janet Howd

Janet Howd is a voice coach who works with corporate, academic, legal, theatrical and private clients in the UK, North America, Australia and Europe.