Spreading the Word on Bell's Genius

Ben Ruhe
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Taking advantage of the electronic communications age, the Alexander Graham Bell Institute at University College of Cape Breton, in Sydney, Nova Scotia, several years ago decided to make available on a worldwide basis the vast trove of Bell material on file at the Bell Museum in nearby Baddeck. Baddeck is where Bell had his estate and laboratories.

Ron MacNeil, an engineering instructor, received the assignment and promptly set up a project to index 20,000 of the Bell papers, using students to scan the pages and create an index to be placed on-line.

The project had three goals.

-To "mine for nuggets," in MacNeil's words. That is, were there unexploited ideas in the papers? By putting the work out globally on the world wide web, it would insure a broader vetting of Bell's genius than has been possible heretofore.

-To spread the word on Bell's own technique for generating inventions - mission-oriented research. In the Nova Scotia context, MacNeil promoted problem solving for local industries aided by UCCB personnel.

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