Posted by: Liz Massey | July 24, 2009

Surf’s Up: Top Creativity Links for July 24, 2009

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Illustration courtesy SXC.

The Future of Content
An intriguing link from the Open Culture website to a video of an hour-plus discussion at the Aspen Institute’s 2009 Aspen Ideas Festival about the future of content-based information products in an emerging culture that expects them to be online and free.

If you’re like me, and mesmerized by all the new social media tools, but concerned that no one will value the training or expertise that those of us trained in the “pre-Internet” era have invested in our discipline, this is a topic to keep an eye on.

How to Be Authentic with People Who Love You but Don’t Understand You – Part One
This link is the first of a multi-post series by Ken Robert on his Mildly Creative blog containing wonderful advice for dealing with friends and family who dislike a creative person’s lifestyle or behavior and refuse to see it from their point of view.

One of the first caveats that Robert lays out is for creatives to stop demanding that people understand them. He recalls talking about making peace with one’s family with a dear friend, and being struck by her comment that “I realized one day that my father didn’t have to understand me to love me, and that changed everything.”

Robert comments,

“That sentence struck me right between the eyes. It’s funny how a minor adjustment can open up a whole new world. I realized that I’d chained the two concepts together. To be loved, I thought, I had to be understood, so anytime I felt misunderstood, I felt unloved, and I felt hurt, and I felt angry, and I lashed out.”

Instead, he suggests, artists and innovators should seek first to understand those around them.

“What you’re really doing when you give up your pleas to be understood is freeing yourself to take a real interest in others… St. Francis of Assisi had it right. When you stop clamoring for others to understand you, you’re free to invest your energy in better understanding yourself and those around you. And this is a much better, far more fruitful, unbelievably more rewarding way to spend your time. You become a giver instead of a taker.”

Other parts of his series focus on stop asking people to give things they are not capable of giving and stop asking people to give you what you won’t give yourself.

Innovation Calls For I-Shaped People
Commentary from Microsoft Research’s Bill Buxton, writing for BusinessWeek. Buxton augments an idea he got from his friend, Bill Moggridge, the co-founder of IDEO. Moggridge came up with the formulation of “T-shaped people,” in which the vertical aspect of the T represents depth, and the horizontal bar is breadth. So a T-shaped person has basic literacy in a relatively broad domain of relevant knowledge along with real depth of competence in a much narrower domain. This is a person you want on a team trying to come up with innovative ideas, according to Buxton.

But for Buxton, that concept is necessary, but not sufficient. He writes,

“There may be no ‘I’ in team, but every team needs to be made up of ‘I-shaped’ people, who have their feet firmly planted in the mud of the practical world, and yet stretch far enough to stick their head in the clouds when they need to. Furthermore, they simultaneously span all of the space in between.”

The rest of this relatively brief piece is interesting, including a point he makes about successful innovators having a blend of strong abstract thinking skills and a strong grounding in physical fix-it skills, such as repairing cars or building their own bicycles. It echoes a point that author Stuart Brown made in the recently published book “Play”: that an older generation of  engineers at Cal Tech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory had been able to create previously unthinkable solutions for the research agency in part because they had spent their childhood playing at “hands-on” activities such as taking about the family (analog!) clock or building soap-box derby racers.

Bonus Links!

21 Rules of Thumb For Innovation Team Building
From the blog of Gregg Fraley, author of “Jack’s Notebook.” Good rules for putting together an innovative team.

Musicians on Twitter: 100+ Artists That Tweet
From Mashable.com. Another varied list of tweeting artists!

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