Friday, May 11, 2012

Imagine: How Creativity Works ...by Jonah Lehrer

Guess what? Apparently there is a consistent link between walking speed and the production of patents; cities with unusually fast pedestrians create more new ideas. In Physics you get action when particles bounce off one another with velocity. And so the most creative citites are ones with the most collisions, which brings me to the next point. Bigger cities are better for creativity cos obviously there are more people and therefore more 'collisions' are likely, which means more ideas can be generated. Point is, people need to meet people in order for ideas to start flying.

I always knew it... daydreaming is good. Lol! These days people always assume that daydreaming is the act of a lazy mind. Recent studies however shows that electrical conversations happen between the front and back parts of the brain only when we begin to daydream. And its significance is the brain blends concepts which are normally filed away in different areas when these two parts of the brain communicate. The result is we see new connections and overlaps that we normally overlook - creative ideas and solutions. Some people call this moments of epiphany. Think Archimedes and his Eureka moment. That is an epiphanic moment. So daydreaming and epiphany are related.

And sharing is good too. Sharing of ideas will give rise to new ones and the latter will usually innovate. When ideas are shared, possibilites multiply. A multiplier culture is the result of creative minds at work. Reading this book also convinces me that dividing to stay in power is not a good thing, as what the government has been doing all these years under different guises. Interaction is good. It gives birth to innovations. Throw in the freedom to exchange information, the right set of rules and customs in place to make sure that the people can take advantage of that interaction, we'll do better than many of the countries which are ahead of us in this region. Malaysia is a country with cultural diversity. Just imagine what this diversity is capable of if all races are able to share in an environment of freedom coupled with good and sensible governance.

Talking about sharing, one of the thing I noticed about Daughter's friends is how reluctant they are to share. I don't know whether it's the kiasu-ness compounded by being in a Chinese vernacular school at work or it's just plain human selfish nature at work but her friends always seem to have one excuse or another not to share information with her. They have been times too when they actually made an effort not to share. I teach my kids quite contrarily. I believe sharing, especially knowledge because sharing helps to make us more dynamic. It is when we teach others that we learn how little we actually know. And that in itself actually brings about a realization which might subsequently lead to a level of actualization.

I enjoy the insights from the writer. The genius if Shakespeare would not have been possible had the England that he was born into not be made up of the right ingredients. The writer also highlighted the fact that very few companies last beyond the 50 year mark. However cities do. And the difference between them is cities cannot be regimented while companies can. Companies get regimented as they grow bigger and the spontaineity is lost.

Talent is everywhere. However, talent alone is not enough. Creative ideas and solutions do not just happen at that one particular moment without effort. It takes a lot of grit and determination.... a lot of hard work. And our present academic systems which focus on rote learning and memorising do not nurture creativity. They stifle because children who question or daydream are considered more difficult to teach. We do not encourage working with the hands. We think that the path to success lies only through academic success. The book is filled with examples of outlier achievements, attained through ways which used to be conventional but regarded as unconventional today.

The examples are many, and stories aplenty. Even though it's a non-fiction, I found myself thoroughly entertained throughout the entire reading. I might even do a second round....

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