AN: As one who relishes inspiration in many forms , lo, much that is inspirational comes from the people who are and exercise their creativity….. Fast Company has compiled a representative list of 100. Peruse and enjoy !
Archive for the ‘Creative Thinking’ Category
Great Big Ideas: Free Course Features Top Thinkers Tackling the World’s Most Important Ideas | Open Culture Leave a comment
Begun in 2011 by Big Think and the Jack Parker Corporation, The Floating University is an online educational initiative that debuted at Harvard, Yale, and Bard College. The purpose of The Floating University, according to its site, is to “democratize access to the world’s best thinkers” by providing free, approximately one hour-long courses on a wide range of topics, taught at a university level by experts and professors in the various fields. The inaugural course, the most favored at the three universities, is Great Big Ideas, and it more or less does what it says: tackles some of the largest, most perplexing questions in digestible introductions that also manage to be rigorous, informative, and thought-provoking.
In the lecture above, for example, Harvard cognitive psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker presents an “eSeminar” in linguistics, addressing dogged questions in the field over whether or not humans have an innate, universal grammar (as Noam Chomsky has famously argued); why language is so fundamental to our social relationships; and how language evolved. Pinker, who describes human language in broad terms as a “miracle” and a “window into the human mind,” also gets into the specific subfields of linguistics, discussing them in terms that any layperson can understand without much diluting the fascinating philosophical and scientific debates around what Darwin called our “instinctive tendency to speak” to one another, from infancy onward, all over the world, in some 6000 different languages.
The Great Big Ideas (now added to our list of 550 Free Online Courses) lecture series consists of twelve lectures total, including Pinker’s.
AN : A fast moving but highly informative video ( see source article ) covering language, language learning and linguistics. Eleven other topics and links there as well.
“What Dostoevsky has to do with the hunchback of Notre Dame, Muhammad Ali, and dandelions.
As a firm believer in combinatorial creativity, I’m always interested in the ecosystem of influences and how we honor those who inspire us. Reader Will Shaw points me to this handwritten note by music icon Nick Cave entitled “More Things to Remember…,” courtesy of Melbourne’s Arts Centre, in which Cave lists some of his influences. Will writes:
“It is clear that Nick Cave was only able to reach his significant artistic heights through appropriating ideas and aesthetics from his heroes and influences and melding them into something uniquely powerful.” “
AN : interdisciplinary pollination of influences and ideas applies to the Sciences as well as the Arts….
“There is a school of thought that says that creativity is enhanced by having all the resources you need. There is an equal and opposite view that suggests that limitations can be the spur to creativity. It is to this view that I want to turn. Starting with the gypsy jazz musician Django Reinhardt: …..
The parallel business innovation lesson from my background in pharmaceuticals is that many of the world’s breakthrough therapies were not discovered in sterile glass corporate buildings, but often in rather unpromising conditions, by people who had been starved of budget, resources and attention by the corporate centre. I’m not suggesting that this should become a modus operandi for running innovative businesses. Just that sometimes opulence does not produce the conditions where people give that extra effort that leads to innovative breakthroughs.
At a personal level, give someone all s/he needs and he may use those resources to come up with something ingenious. Tell him or her that it’s impossible or there isn’t time and they might spend a lot more effort proving you wrong. Clearly this is not an absolute truth in all circumstances, but it’s widely ignored.”
AN : do watch and listen to the inspiring stories in the accompanying videos in the link….
“Creativity is underrated – at least that is what Fredrik Härén, author of The Idea Book believes.“We want to be thought of as being creative people, but, by and large, companies are not fostering creativity, but practically killing it … through bureaucracy, through process-driven organisations,” Härén told INSEAD MBAs at the school’s Asia campus in Singapore.
The irony, however, is that almost all companies have innovation and creativity in their mission statements or their slogans, he says. But these are all just a marketing exercise, or the mission statement doesn’t trickle down to the rest of the organisation.
But why the emphasis on creativity? According to Härén, harnessing creative energy can generate new ideas, which can, in turn, lead to greater economic and social progress.”
The Austro-Hungarian Legacy: Creative Citizens Need Innovative Governance | Global Trends 2030 Leave a comment
“The Austro-Hungarian Empire did not collapse in 1918 because it failed to cultivate new ideas or nurture personal freedom. It was filled with expressive, entrepreneurial, and free-thinking groups. The problem was that the Habsburg political system, which for three centuries had held diverse groups together, generated remarkable wealth, and defeated foreign tyrants (notably Napoleon), failed to adjust to new demands for national independence and democratic participation. Franz-Josef served as Emperor for more than sixty years before his death in 1916, as a pious, hard-working, and fair-minded political leader. He even encouraged equality for Jews at a time of rising anti-Semitism throughout Europe. Nonetheless, the system of imperial monarchy that he directed failed to address the growing demands for independence, development, and wealth redistribution throughout his lands. Despite his efforts, he was a prisoner of a stagnant and outdated set of political institutions.
Even with the best of leaders and institutions, large societies cannot prosper if they cannot adjust to change. At the same time that the cosmopolitan city of Vienna entered a terminal crisis in 1914, much more provincial cities like Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Cleveland led a rapid growth in American wealth and power behind their flexible political systems of governance.”
An excellent short synopsis on thinking….
“Thinking is one of the basic human activities. Our mind starts popping up different kinds of ideas at a very tender age and we learn to ponder upon them. There are two types of thinking—critical and creative. Critical thinking is more analytical, convergent and focused, whereas creative thinking is generative, divergent and diffused. Our creative thinking skills are usually restrained due to various reasons.
The tendency to center only the negative aspect of a situation acts as a barrier for the creative thinking skills. Statements like “it is too difficult or too expensive”; “we cannot do it because we don’t have enough resources or skills” highlights the negative attitude that a person carries. Instead, one must try to find opportunities in every situation and must allow oneself to face challenges.
When a person is over-stressed or burdened with workload, it tends to smother his ability to think creatively. Stress targets the creative mental processes and reduces them to the minimum. In this case, one must try to understand that organization of everyday work is important but that shouldn’t stop us from trying new ideas and approaches.
AFRAID OF FAILURE
Often people prevent themselves from thinking differently for they are afraid that they’d make a fool of themselves. Creative thinking skills allow a person to bring out the unconventional methods and plans. Some see this opportunity as an easy way to become the butt of the jokes and therefore, they avoid it. In fact, one should understand that failure is a part of progress and must be embraced in a healthy way.
STRICTLY FOLLOWING RULES
Rules are very important for us to function properly and accurately. However, strictly sticking to them kills the inventive aspect of a person. This represses any possibility of bringing anything new and innovative to the table. One must not be afraid of infusing new ideas; otherwise work turns monotonous and dull.
Over-indulgence and over-reliance on logic does not allow our creative ideas to bloom and flourish. Also, being too judgmental excludes imagination. However, creative thinking does not mean the absence of reason. It simply shows us a different, humorous and more mind-boggling approach towards it.
It is a universal tendency of humans to expect the worst of the unknown. Everyone is usually afraid of the future and what it holds for them. The conscious and unconscious assumptions have the propensity of restricted creative thinking skills. For this, one must weigh all the assumptions to make sure they are not cutting off any new ideas.
Creative thinking skills open up many opportunities for us. To make the most of it, one must work on eradicating the barriers that holds back our creativity. “
“The DirectedCreativity Cycle: A Synthesis Model of the Creative Process
The DirectedCreativity Cycle is a synthesis model of creative thinking that combines the concepts behind the various models proposed over the last 80+ years.
The DirectedCreativity Cycle
Let’s walk through it, beginning at the 9:00 position on the circle. We live everyday in the same world as everyone else, but creative thinking begins with careful observation of that world coupled with thoughtful analysis of how things work and fail. These mental processes create a store of concepts in our memories. Using this store, we generate novel ideas to meet specific needs by actively searching for associations among concepts. There are many specific techniques that we can use to make these association; for example, analogies, branching out from a given concept, using a random word, classic brainstorming, and so on. The choice of technique is not so important; making the effort to actively search for associations is what is key.
Seeking the balance between satisficing and premature judgment, we harvest and further enhance our ideas before we subject them to a final, practical evaluation. But, it is not enough just to have creative thoughts; ideas have no value until we put in the work to implement them. Every new idea that is put into practice changes the world we live in, which re-starts the cycle of observation and analysis.
Directed creativity simply means that we make purposeful mental movements to avoid the pitfalls associated with our cognitive mechanisms at each step of this process of searching for novel and useful ideas.
For purposes of explanation, we can further divide this model into four phases. We will use these four phases of Preparation, Imagination, Development, and Action to organize the tools of directed creativity in other working papers.
Note that this model continues in the tradition of others in asserting that creativity is a balance of imagination and analysis. The model also purposefully avoids taking a stand on the controversy of whether imagination is a conscious or subconscious mental ability. While I personally believe that imagination is a conscious, non-magical mental action, the activity of “generation” in the model welcomes creative ideas regardless of their source. Finally, notice that this model clearly supports the notion that innovation is a step beyond the simple generation of creative ideas. The Action phase of the model makes it clear that creative ideas have value only when they are implemented in the real world.”
3 Critical Insights Into Creativity From Jonah Lehrer’s “Imagine” | Co.Design: business + innovation + design Leave a comment
“3 Critical Insights Into Creativity From Jonah Lehrer’s “Imagine”
HERE’S WHY THE BOOK IS A MUST-READ FOR DESIGNERS SEARCHING FOR THE NEXT BREAKTHROUGH.
Designers spend a lot of time giving advice to each other. There has been a litany of books by designers for designers. There have been a few by business people on how design can benefit business. But there have not been many about the process of design and creativity at the most fundamental level of all–the human brain. Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine is that book. Released a few weeks ago, it’s the most important book to hit design in many years, because it goes to the heart of how the mind works and offers surprising and immediately useful ideas on the neurological origins of creative insight.
For an interview with Lehrer, click here.
Through a series of stories about some of history’s greatest creative breakthroughs, Lehrer takes the reader into how those “aha” moments happen. By starting at the level of the individual and scaling up to communities, corporations, and even cities, Lehrer presents a measured and invigorating view of how our brains imagine new things. The book contains an endless array of helpful ways to think about creativity, but here are a few that struck me as most relevant to designers.”…..
Continue to the full article and a second, longer video….
“Thinking Smarter About People Who Think Differently
One of the forthcoming books I’m most excited about is Steve Silberman’s NeuroTribes: A smarter way of thinking about people who think differently. Like Oliver Sacks (and Steve has written the definitive profile of the neurologist), Steve is an incredibly sensitive observer of others. (He’s also a gifted writer and absurdly nice guy.) Steve isn’t interested in mere description of a condition – he wants to understand how his subjects see the world, immersing himself in their pleasures, passions and struggles.
Last weekend in The Wall Street Journal, I wrote about a new study looking at the information processing advantages of those with autism: they seem to notice more, at least in the visual realm. Given Steve’s book-in-progress and the inherent complexity of the subject, I was eager to ask him some questions. He was gracious enough to send along a few answers.
Steve is a long time contributor to Wired Magazine and blogs about science, mind, and culture at NeuroTribes on the Public Library of Science. He lives with his husband Keith Karraker in San Francisco.
LEHRER: How should the public think about autism? Is it a disease? A disability? Should we be searching for a cure?
SILBERMAN: Autism is one way of being human. The quickest way to cure yourself of shallow assumptions and stereotypes is to talk to autistic adults, who are often marginalized and overlooked in the national conversation. In the course of doing research for my book, I’ve spent a lot of time with adults on the spectrum and their families. When you’re talking to a soulful, witty, complex man or woman — in spoken language, email, or using text-to-speech software — the endless debates about autism and its likely cause du jour fade into the background. What steps forth is a whole person who struggles with certain issues day to day, many of which are made worse by the truly shocking lack of societal resources committed to helping autistic adults live happier, more secure, and more independent lives.
Autistic people are routinely described as lacking empathy and a sense of humor, having basic emotional deficits, or being so obsessive about their special interests that they must make boring company. But nothing could be further from the truth. One of the great secrets of life on the spectrum is how witty and playful autistic adults can be. Hans Asperger, one of two researchers who independently discovered autism in the 1940s, noticed how autistic people love punning. And Gawker has nothing on autistic snark. Imagine Mr. Spock on Star Trek arching a Vulcan eyebrow in the face of McCoy’s “highly illogical” behavior, and you have a perfect visual representation of how the follies of neurotypical society look to many autistic adults.
That said, autistic people do face certain challenges that seem built-in to the condition. They struggle with things like scheduling, prioritizing, multitasking, and becoming overwhelmed in noisy, social environments. They need a lot of time and space alone, as well as time spent in the company of other autistic people. One of the most beautiful and meaningful weeks I’ve ever spent was at an annual event called Autreat, where a few dozen people on the spectrum hang out together in “autistic space.” There are scheduled presentations and group activities, but it’s a very relaxing, low-pressure environment; really, a culture of its own, with its own traditions. For example, instead of erupting into applause after a presentation, Autreat folks raise their hands in the air and flap them. It’s a wonderful way of expressing appreciation without creating a burst of noise, and also of destigmatizing behavior for which they were punished and bullied as kids. Returning to the neurotypical world after a few days at Autreat was like landing in Times Square after spending a couple of months in Japan. “Normal” behavior suddenly seemed so loud, in-your-face, full of vacuous social posturing and braggadocio.
Of course, some autistic people — particularly as kids — can’t use spoken language at all, or have problems with self-injurious behavior. This is understandably highly upsetting to parents. But I’ve met many autistic adults who were written off as non-verbal or profoundly intellectually disabled when they were young, who turned out to be hilariously verbal and creative, given the right kinds of support and assistive technology. That doesn’t always happen. But you never know what the limits of a human life are until it’s been lived.
These are the reasons why I think it’s much more helpful and accurate to think of autism as a disability. Society understands that disabled people deserve respect, support, and reasonable accommodations. Autistic people deserve those things too. But autism fundraising organizations devote millions and millions of dollars a year to genetic research, and only a tiny fraction of that on researching things that could vastly improve the quality of life for autistic people and their families, like developing new applications of assistive technology for affordable platforms like the iPad. Neurotypicals stereotype autistics as obsessed and perseverative, but neurotypical society is obsessed and perseverative when talking about causes and cures for autism. We just spent ten years of very expensive research hunting for autism genes, only to discover that autism genetics is much more complex than we thought. We’re investing all this money in trying to make autistic people go away, instead of helping the millions of autistic people who are already here lead happier, safer, and more productive lives. That’s a shameful squandering of human resources.
LEHRER: What do you think this new study can teach us about so-called autistic savants?
SILBERMAN: Savants like Raymond Babbitt – the central character played by Dustin Hoffman in the 1988 film “Rain Man” — are one way that society got interested in what was formerly considered a very rare, even obscure disorder. That’s natural. Savant talents can be very impressive, even mind-blowing.
I remember meeting a wonderful young jazz musician named Matt Savage — who I wrote about in Wired — when he was 11. The first thing he said to me, in classic autistic fashion, was “When were you born?” I said “December 23, 1957.” He replied instantly, “Aw, Monday’s child, fair of face.” Obviously, that’s fascinating. The reigning authority on savant syndrome, Darold Treffert, told me that Matt is the “rarest of the rare.”
But what’s he doing now, nine years later? He’s doing what any very committed young jazz musician should do: he’s playing gigs with his trio and studying at Berklee College of Music. The fact that he received a diagnosis of PDD-NOS when he was a baby seems less important now than the fact that he’s developing his creativity and honing his distinctive skills, which include the special gifts of his atypical brain.
The most provocative thing about Nilli Lavie’s new study is that it shows that one of these gifts — the ability to take in high amounts of visual information at any one time — is not limited to savants, but is a feature of the characteristic ways that autistic brains process information. The study suggests that we’re looking at autistic savants the wrong way — instead of being “the rarest of the rare,” they’re representative of an autistic cognitive style that can be superior to that of neurotypicals in some ways. It’s time to talk less about autistic deficits and extraordinary savants, and more about the strengths of atypical cognitive styles like autism.
I asked one of the researchers who worked on the study, Anna Remington, about its implications. She told me, “Sometimes this extra information can be a distraction, but in many situations, it will mean that autistics can perform at a higher level than typical adults. This knowledge could be used to create learning programs that harness these special abilities, and also highlights the fact that there are areas such as data analysis and IT where individuals with ASD could make an important contribution to society. We hope that understanding this increased ability to process information may enable people with the condition to capitalize on their unique strengths.”
LEHRER: How has researching your forthcoming book changed the way you think about the condition?
SILBERMAN: When I first started thinking about a book after writing “The Geek Syndrome” ten years ago, I was mostly interested in the science of causes and cures, like a typical neurotypical. Now I’m much more interested in addressing the social problems faced by autistic people and their families. By continuing to think about autism as a disease in search of a cure instead of a disability that deserves support, services, accomodations, and highly creative research into education and assistive technology, we’re a society in denial. The new CDC report saying that one in 88 children is autistic should be a wake-up call to the fact that we’re currently offering very few resources to these folks once they become adults. Instead of asking “How can we cure autism?” we should be asking, “How can we ensure that millions of autistic people lead happy and healthy lives?” “