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Strange Genius & Why the Octopus

In his 1973 book Octopus and Squid: The Soft Intelligence, Jacques Cousteau tells this charming story: “Our friend Gilpatric … brought an octopus home and put it in an aquarium, which he then covered with a heavy lid. A short time later, the aquarium was empty, and Gilpatric found the octopus going through his library, book by book, turning the pages with its arms.”

~As told in Mental Floss, 10 Hidden Talents of the Octopus

We’ve just just re-booted our content agency, and re-launched our website. We very much hope that it serves, helps, and inspires you–just as we hope to serve, help and inspire you and your brand along your storytelling journey.

In the process of creating our new branding, a new corporate vision and mission, a new suite of services, and a new website, I stumbled across this utterly insane story: researchers who study the behaviour and neuroscience of octopuses (and yes, that is the correct plural form) have just discovered that octopus arms, and tentacles in particular may in fact have minds of their own.

“The octopus’ arms have a neural ring that bypasses the brain, and so the arms can send information to each other without the brain being aware of it,” said Dominic Sivitilli, a graduate student in behavioural neuroscience and astrobiology at the University of Washington, in a released statement. “So while the brain isn’t quite sure where the arms are in space, the arms know where each other are and this allows the arms to coordinate during actions like crawling locomotion.”

And here we were, contemplating only its beauty.

The story stuck in my brain, as I wrote website copy about the agility and talent of my incredible family of content professionals. And then I realized why.

I so often marvel at the sheer miraculousness of this team, as a complex content project comes to fruition: how Lisa creates succinct, compelling prose from the most delightfully freewheeling interview, or how Lara applies intuition and deep experience to create the tone-perfect social visual or website. How Chelle, after a single conversation, ‘”throws together’ the perfect Instagram mood board to tell a brand’s story. How Taryn crafts such smart, efficient marketing strategy drawing on an encyclopedic knowledge of all things internet. Or how Kristy, after juggling seven meetings in a day crisply explains at its end exactly what happened, what needs to be done next, and how she’s already nearly finished.

Many arms. Many hearts. Many beautiful brains. Moving in sync. Extraordinary.

And so the octopus has found its way into our family.

A swift, nimble, and playful shapeshifter with three hearts, nine brains, and extraordinary strength, coordination, and skill, the supernatural octopus navigates through mazes, solves problems, and creates beautiful, fluid art as a biological imperative.

She’s also a reminder of strange genius in the world—the brilliance I see every day in talking to passionate entrepreneurs and creative leaders, committed to leaving this world a better place than they found it–and of how very important it is to let that genius be seen, and known.

At Forge & Spark Media, we aim to bring good people together for good reasons. We work with purpose-driven brands to create and deliver premium, story-driven content marketing that gets results. We also believe in giving back: as part of the Pledge 1% movement, we donate time and talent to helping women and kids in need in our community. 

Shannon Emmerson
Shannon Emmerson
With 20+ years experience in creating and publishing digital content for a range of organizations, Shannon knows it’s all about stories. Inspired by: small acts of courage.