Posted by: Liz Massey | September 30, 2013

Surf’s Up, Condensed: Top Creativity Links for September 30, 2013

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Photo courtesy of Thad Zajdowicz via SXC.

Scientists Discover Source of Imagination in Human Brain

This write up in Science World Report discusses a recent study that confirms what scientists had already posited – that there isn’t just one place in which imagination (the ability to manipulate mental images, etc.) resides in the human brain, there is a neural network throughout the brain that helps people construct non-reality-based images and combine “real” images to make something entirely new. Particularly intriguing is their language to describe this network, as the researchers say it creates a “mental workspace” where imagination can take place. (Yes, that means we all have a little artist’s studio, right in side our own head!)

3 Ways to Overcome Creative Block

Adventure photographer Dan Bailey provides three very good tips on how to get your ideas and works of art/innovation flowing again: change your environment, use a different tool, and use limitations or aribitrary “rules” to shake up your mind.

I really like his use of the parallel between changing tools in music (he plays guitar for fun) and changing tools as a photographer to break up creative blocks:

A few weeks ago, I bought a harmonica. Totally new instrument that requires completely different techniques that my brain and body aren’t nearly as familiar with. I’m still playing music, but since I have to think and work in a new way to make sounds and melodies, my creative mind is being exercised in an entirely new way. I come up with original ideas that I’m able to expand on when I go back to the guitar.

Sometime I’ll even switch to an entirely new medium for awhile, such as sketching or writing. Stuck on picture taking? Try writing a story or drawing a picture. It’s not pictures, but it’s still creativity.

The Real Reason Creative Workers Are Good For The Economy | The Atlantic Cities
This is a very cogent piece by Richard Florida, who wrote “The Rise of The Creative Class,” about a recent UK study that backs up a key thesis of his – that it is the activities of creative individuals, regardless of whether they work for a firm or industry categorized as creative, that drives innovation in a city. He argues that cities should shift away from focusing on innovation at the company level and note instead the creative individuals that carry novel practices from employer to employer in a given geographic area.

Why Our Creativity Depends on Who Surrounds Us | The Creativity Post
Dr. Jonathan Wai interviews a colleague who studies the impacts of creative work at the macro level, Enrico Moretti, the author of “The New Geography of Jobs.” While some of the work of these men confirms Florida’s approach, they differ on what the causation is. Moretti says:

I think part of the reason Florida was so successful was that he offered a very simple and cheap solution for localities to turn around their economies. He was providing an easy-to-achieve blueprint for economic redevelopment, centered around the idea that all a city with a stagnant economy needs to do to jumpstart its economy is to provide cultural amenities to appeal to the “creative class”. But the data tell a very different story. If you look at the history of American creative cities, what I would call the innovation hubs today, typically they first became rich and prosperous and then they became creative and cool. The evidence point to a blueprint for economic development where jobs come first, and cultural amenities follow. This is exactly the opposite of Florida’s blueprint.

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