Ad Age has published a memorial of a kind already. Mr. Nimoy was no stranger to advertising, of course. His real influence, though, was never the equity he brought to marketing. Rather, his unique interpretation of the half-Vulcan, half-human Mr. Spock, and the Star Trek science fiction narrative served as a vision and inspiration for all that was possible in the world for generations of us worldwide. Perhaps no other series of stories has brought to life a future of technology in which doctors have life-saving apparatuses an arm’s reach away; where space travel is everyday; computers have at their disposal the full knowledge of the entire human experience; machines learn and process massive data in an instant, provide reason and advice; and vessels of our own (and alien) design travel at the speed of light. And most of the technology featured is intended for the good of man, for the purposes of peace and to satisfy the insatiable thirst of human exploration and curiosity. And where weapons seemed to have a default state of stun, and not kill. A universe where anything seemed possible and it all seemed so real.
Reflecting on this brings me back to a whole course of events leading up to this day. Bear with me; this nostalgia comes from a place of honest grief. This is a eulogy of a kind.
As a kid, I was equally as fascinated by Mr. Spock’s constant struggle between his logical and emotional self as I was by his role as a science officer. It was a form of compromise and negotiation that had always led me to understand that being alive means being in conflict with one’s self and that try as we might, we can never be 100% in control of our emotions. We’re wired that way. The character was purposefully built around a dichotomy so razor sharp that it helped, in watching his relationships with his Captain and his shipmates, in shaping even how I imagined teamwork and collaboration to be.
I grew up in a military family, so both the hierarchy of that crew as well as the ways in which leadership can be fluid from situation to situation were clear to me. You step in where others are at a loss, you follow orders up until a point that your mix of emotion and rationality become a decision process in its own right, and if you do, you learn, often by trial and error, to follow your guts. And things generally turn out okay.
After college, I worked at a small literary agency in New York, where I had the good fortune to work with Lawrence Krauss, the author of The Physics of Star Trek. In that I learned that all that fiction was based on real science. Show writers understood that the backstory of what we know of science was a necessary factor in creating science fiction. If you accelerated to the speed of light from a factor of impulse power for instance, the atoms of which we’re built would have blown apart. So the writers had created this idea of an on-board damper to solve for that, and even though it never was part of the script, it was always part of the story. I later worked at Paramount, the home of all things Star Trek. I sold old Star Trek swag people gave me on eBay when it first launched, ate beside alien characters on their lunch break at the studio commissary and worked with a team of early web marketers who built websites for the movie series. And sent a few people on the studio tour of the Star Trek sound stages, where many were disappointed to find that the familiar swish-swish opening of the Enterprise doors was really just a couple of union guys dragging plywood across the floor.
And here we are. At GSD&M, our work is intertwined with the world of Star Trek. What we strive to achieve for the United States Air Force is a direct link between the culture and technology of the here-and-now and the future world in which Starfleet Academy sends its graduates into the unknown “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before” From AirForce.com to the Academy website, to our work recruiting the best of the best in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, envisioning new models of technology application via Collaboratory and all the other mediums in which we create, we really are helping to recruit the pioneers of a future Starfleet. With one click of a banner ad, perhaps the ancestor of a future form of Captain Kirk found his calling. Imagine that.
So farewell to you, Mr. Nimoy. Thanks for the memories, but more than that thanks for a view of the future you have inspired us to believe in. From everyone at GSD&M, peace to you and your loved ones and your many fans who feel a real sense of loss today.
Live long, and prosper.