Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it. They just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.
That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences, or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.
Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry (technology) haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.
— Steve Jobs, Wired, February 1995
Other posts related to creativity
For the past few weeks, I’ve been working my way through a book called “Cartographies of Time.” I’m only about a third of the way through it so far, but it is a fabulous book that both deserves (and shall get) its own post and a proper review. (Maybe even a whole series.)
But while I am not quite ready to dive into that project, there is one aspect of Cartographies of Time that meshes really well with other things I’ve been thinking about.
In particular, I’ve been really interested in the book’s discussion of the methods used for understanding and recording knowledge. Even more interesting is the ways in which these techniques have evolved through time. (For a book that claims to primarily be a history of the timeline, Cartographies does a magnificent job of covering many tools: lists, maps, charts, trees and graphs.)
As I’ve read, I’ve found myself enthralled to one particular question, namely: the records you keep and share seem to be uniquely connected to your mindset (a complex amalgam of education, experience, and circumstance), environment, and culture (particularly important is the effect of language). As these things evolve, the substance of your thinking (and therefore your records and how you express them) also change in divers ways.
Given a rich intellectual and cultural environment, they can flower and spread. In a barren landscape, the mode and presentation of thought can remain static for centuries.
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