Tag Archives: genius

Why doesn’t brainstorming work?

From an interview with Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works.

Why doesn’t brainstorming work? What should we do instead?

I think the failure of brainstorming is inseparable from its allure, which is that it makes us feel good about ourselves. A group of people are put together in a room and told to free-associate, with no criticism allowed. (The assumption is that the imagination is meek and shy — if it’s worried about being criticized, it will clam up.) Before long, the whiteboard is filled with ideas. Everybody has contributed; nobody has been criticized. Alas, the evidence suggests that the overwhelming majority of these free-associations are superficial and that most brainstorming sessions actually inhibit the productivity of the group. We become less than the sum of our parts.

However, in recent years, scientists have shown that group collaborations benefit from debate and dissent; it is the human friction that makes the sparks. (There’s a reason why Steve Jobs always insisted that new ideas required “brutal honesty.”) In fact, some studies suggest that encouraging debate and dissent can lead to a 40% increase in useful new ideas from the group.

You talk a lot about the benefits of cultural mixing. What legislative changes would encourage more of this?

More immigrants! The numbers speak for themselves. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Patent Office, immigrants invent patents at double the rate of non-immigrants, which is why a 1% increase in immigrants with college degrees leads to a 15% rise in patent production. (In recent years, immigrant inventors have contributed to more than a quarter of all U.S. global patent applications.) These new citizens also start companies at an accelerated pace, co-founding 52% of Silicon Valley firms since 1995.

Many of the anecdotes in Imagine have a disconcerting common theme of drugs or mental illness. Are creative people all doomed to be addicts or mad men?

I don’t think so. (Yo Yo Ma, for instance, is a very nice guy.) But I do think the prevalence of such stories reminds us that creativity is damn difficult, which is why those in the creativity business are always looking for every possible edge. That’s why many great writers experimented with amphetamines and why performers have always searched for compounds that let them get out of their head, silencing that voice that kills their spontaneity. In the end, of course, these chemical shortcuts rarely work out — there’s nothing creative about addiction. And that’s why I remained convinced that the best creativity booster is self-knowledge. Once we know how the imagination works, we can make it work better.

More Q&A at Mashable

 

Thx to Jesse Newhart

Tickets available for the 2012 Newport Beach Film Festival

This will be my second year attending the Newport Beach Film Festival. Last year I watched a film about sharks and listened to Aaron Sorkin speak about writing. I loved it.

This year is looking to be just as good and I’m excited to see movies about the ocean, surfing, design, and drama.

One things that makes this film festival special is its focus on specialized topics, like:

  • Action Sports (surfing, skiing, extreme)
  • Art, Architecture, & Design (documentaries, profiles)
  • Music (profiles of great musicians and genres)

The festival runs from April 26 – May 3 and this year highlights the Island Cinema, a remodeled luxury theater at Fashion Island.

The full schedule is available online at Festival Genius, and you can follow the festival on Twitter – @nbff.

Apple Genius Tip: Never restore your iPhone from a back-up

The other day I was at the Apple Store with my mom to help her get the iPhone 4S. She asked the clerk-geek if she should restore her phone from her backup and he said “no.”

We were shocked. Isn’t that the standard procedure. According to him, not anymore. With iCloud and iTunes syncing it is actually an inferior method.

His reasoning was that if you restore your phone then anything corrupt will be loaded back onto the phone. Instead, you should sync all of your apps and data with your Mac laptop and then restore your phone from that data. Or, in the new version with iCloud you can restore from that data (with no syncing needed).

Of course, this only works if you have a Mac laptop.

It took me a while to figure this out. Apple likes to make everything simple and effective and in this case that would be cutting out the annoying and time sucking process of backing up. If you follow that then you see that all the latest iOS developments were leading up to this.

Which is great because syncing and backing-up an iPhone was a miserable process. The only problem is that current users have long established habits we need to break. For example, I actually had to open my Mac Mail App and set-up the notes feature. This allows you to back-up your notes and over iCloud it’s automatic.

The same is true for the other apps I rarely use: Calendar, Address Book, iPhoto, iVideo, Bookmarks, and Apps.

All together this is a brilliant move by Apple. It makes their closed system extremely useful when in the past it was simply too time consuming to use. I’m in the process of setting all this up and I’m loving it!