Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Posts Tagged ‘creativity

Depression and creativity

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Interesting post by Shelley Carson, PhD, an instructor and researcher at Harvard University, where she teaches creativity and abnormal psychology. It begins:

After reading a newspaper article about some of the current research linking depressive disorders to creativity, an artist friend of mine commented, “Well, I guess now all I have to do is get depressed and my work will improve.”

Since the time of Aristotle, creativity in the arts has been linked to melancholia…but depression itself doesn’t necessarily enhance creativity. Quite the opposite: most poets, artists, and composers have reported over the years that they are decidedly unable to work during episodes of severe depression. In fact, many have found their inability to create while depressed to be an impetus for ending it all. Virginia Woolf, for example, unable to write during the onset of a depressive episode, filled her pockets with stones and submerged herself in the River Ouse.

So if depression inhibits creativity, why the long-standing recognition of a connection between the two?

Here are four suggested theories: …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

31 July 2008 at 9:28 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

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Great advice from Ira Glass

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This video strikes me as extremely important. It should be mandatory annual viewing in every school in the nation in every grade from 1 through 12. The truth is that, when you start an activity, you can tell that what you produce is not something that you’re proud of or even that you like—and that is okay: it’s normal, it’s part of process. It seems to apply to everything I’ve tried, many of which I dropped because what I was doing was so unsatisfactory to me: woodworking, Go, writing, cooking, drawing, playing the piano, and many more. But when I was interested enough to actually persist (Go, writing to some degree, and cooking) I gradually got to where what I was doing was, to my taste, okay, sometimes even good. And who knows? If I had kept doing woodworking, for example, I may have gotten good. If I had continued to draw, maybe today I would satisfy myself. (And the important thing is to satisfy yourself—you should be happy with what you’re doing, regardless of what others may think or say.)

The key, as Glass says, is to commit to continue turning out completed works—for some time (maybe years) they won’t be what you want, but if you continue to complete things and pay attention to what you’re doing and to the outcome that results, judicious experimentation and the education of the unconscious will almost certainly ultimately result in works that satisfy you—that you like.

This is via Kevin Purdy on Lifehacker,com, and at the link you’ll find where you can watch the entire interview, of which this video is only a segment. Also, note this post on how geniuses become what they are: more or less by following Glass’s advice.

Written by Leisureguy

8 July 2008 at 10:09 am

Posted in Art, Daily life, Education, Writing

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The benefits of boredom

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People generally go to some lengths to avoid boredom (though a surprising number seem happy enough to be boring): putting games on the cellphones, whipping out the old Blackberry, and so on. Every minute must be filled with work—or at least, with distraction.

The Boston Globe has a good article on the benefits of boredom:

We are most human when we feel dull. Lolling around in a state of restlessness is one of life’s greatest luxuries — one not available to creatures that spend all their time pursuing mere survival. To be bored is to stop reacting to the external world, and to explore the internal one. It is in these times of reflection that people often discover something new, whether it is an epiphany about a relationship or a new theory about the way the universe works. Granted, many people emerge from boredom feeling that they have accomplished nothing. But is accomplishment really the point of life? There is a strong argument that boredom — so often parodied as a glassy-eyed drooling state of nothingness — is an essential human emotion that underlies art, literature, philosophy, science, and even love.

“If you think of boredom as the prelude to creativity, and loneliness as the prelude to engagement of the imagination, then they are good things,” said Dr. Edward Hallowell, a Sudbury psychiatrist and author of the book “CrazyBusy.” “They are doorways to something better, as opposed to something to be abhorred and eradicated immediately.”

Read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

9 March 2008 at 10:04 am

Posted in Daily life

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Innovating requires fresh minds

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Interesting:

It’s a pickle of a paradox: As our knowledge and expertise increase, our creativity and ability to innovate tend to taper off. Why? Because the walls of the proverbial box in which we think are thickening along with our experience.

Andrew S. Grove, the co-founder of Intel, put it well in 2005 when he told an interviewer from Fortune, “When everybody knows that something is so, it means that nobody knows nothin’.” In other words, it becomes nearly impossible to look beyond what you know and think outside the box you’ve built around yourself.

This so-called curse of knowledge, a phrase used in a 1989 paper in The Journal of Political Economy, means that once you’ve become an expert in a particular subject, it’s hard to imagine not knowing what you do. Your conversations with others in the field are peppered with catch phrases and jargon that are foreign to the uninitiated. When it’s time to accomplish a task — open a store, build a house, buy new cash registers, sell insurance — those in the know get it done the way it has always been done, stifling innovation as they barrel along the well-worn path.

Elizabeth Newton, a psychologist, conducted an experiment on the curse of knowledge while working on her doctorate at Stanford in 1990. She gave one set of people, called “tappers,” a list of commonly known songs from which to choose. Their task was to rap their knuckles on a tabletop to the rhythm of the chosen tune as they thought about it in their heads. A second set of people, called “listeners,” were asked to name the songs.

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Written by Leisureguy

1 January 2008 at 1:47 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life

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Does open-source stifle innovation?

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Interesting article suggesting that, while the open-source approach can greatly refine and polish existing ideas, it doesn’t lend itself well to maverick insights that take off in a new direction. That is, the wisdom of crowds can lead to a herd mentality.

Written by Leisureguy

17 December 2007 at 9:27 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Technology

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Thoughts of a designer

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The design firm IDEO always takes home more awards for design than any other company. CNN interviews the CEO, who makes some interesting points (including one that I emphasized):

… Design isn’t just about making pretty things, according to British-born CEO Tim Brown. It’s about stumbling upon fresh ways to solve complicated problems. That includes his own schedule: Brown spends so much time among the more than 500 designers and thinkers in IDEO’s eight offices around the world that he has scrapped his desk.

Fortune’s Jessi Hempel met with Brown in IDEO’s new downtown Manhattan loft to discuss his iPod addiction, the dangers of e-mail, and why he loves jumping across time zones.

Control e-mail: I hate PDAs. When I’m in a meeting with someone, I want to be with them. I get more insight if I’m engaged in the moment. I consciously use a phone that doesn’t have a full keyboard on it. Now I’m using the Nokia n95. It takes great pictures.

Clear your mind: I love music. I think I have every generation of iPod ever made. I carry a Nano when I go running. It has a couple hundred songs, not much, and I always have it on shuffle. I use the Nike+ [a wireless pedometer channeled through the iPod Nano] when I run, which is about three times a week for an hour. I like the end result. I travel much better when I am fitter, and I find I have better ideas.

Take good notes: I always carry a Moleskine single-lined five-by-seven-inch notebook. I replace it when it gets full — about every six months. I have a half-dozen or so now. They’re on a shelf in my office in Palo Alto. I’ll use any pen, but I prefer my Pilot Bravo black one. It’s good for writing, sketching, and drawing. I go through the finished ones and highlight the big ideas so they don’t get lost.

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Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 11:06 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

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Rico Clusters

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Sounds like a kind of candy bar, doesn’t it? It’s not: it’s a tool akin to mind-mapping, but not the same. Looks interesting.

Written by Leisureguy

24 October 2007 at 10:37 am

Posted in Daily life

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Being creative-er

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You know already, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, that I like Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and the books he wrote based on his research. “Flow” is his term and much of his research involves discovering more about that state of mind. In past postings I’ve recommended his books, and Mind on Books reminds me to recommend another: Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention:

In the last chapter of his book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, based on interviews with 91 creative individuals, Csikszentmihalyi offers some practical suggestions for enhancing creativity. These are the summary points discussed more completely in the book:

  • Try to be surprised by something every day.
  • Try to surprise at least one person every day.
  • Write down each day what surprised you and how you surprised others.
  • When something strikes a spark of interest, follow it.
  • Wake up in the morning with a specific goal to look forward to.
  • If you do anything well, it becomes enjoyable.
  • To keep enjoying something, you need to increase its complexity.
  • Take charge of your schedule.
  • Make time for reflection and relaxation.
  • Shape your space.
  • Find out what you like and what you hate about life.
  • Start doing more of what you love, less of what you hate.
  • Develop what you lack.
  • Shift often from openness to closure.
  • Aim for complexity.
  • Find a way to express what moves you.
  • Look at problems from as many viewpoints as possible.
  • Figure out the implications of the problem.
  • Implement the solution.
  • Produce as many ideas as possible.
  • Have as many different ideas as possible.
  • Try to produce unlikely ideas.
  • Choose a special domain.

Written by Leisureguy

18 October 2007 at 11:23 am

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