Imagine: How Creativity Works/Jonah Lehrer: Highly Recommended to .....

Monday, May 28, 2012

This morning I made a list of all those with whom I want to share Jonah Lehrer's Imagine: How Creativity Works.  My corporate clients and friends.  My writer friends.  My family.  My son.  You, obviously.

Then I went back through the book to see if I might find the right single seductive passage to quote—that one book slice that would enthrall (ensnare?) my imaginary book party goers.  My father, a businessman just returned from Israel, would no doubt like those pages of the chapter "Urban Friction" that detail the determined smallness and interconnectivity of that country, and then reveal how Israel "—a tiny sliver of land on the Mediterranean, about the same size as Vermont—has nearly three times the amount of VC funding per capita as the United States and thirty times the average of Western Europe."

My brother, a physicist leading a cadre of top thinkers in a research lab, would enjoy, I suspect, those parts of the book that talk about genius and what happens when individual genius folds and bends with the genius across the aisle.

My writer friends would be intrigued by the "gradient of awareness" passages that detail just why it is so hard for us to find our own mistakes (or pure badness) in prose written in the heat of a recent hour.  Or those passages that reveal what parts of the brain entertain autobiography.  Or those insiderly looks at Bob Dylan's writing process.  Or the bits about sleep.  Or the flavorful reminders of the importance of imperfection.

My corporate clients might hurry toward those passages about the rise of InnoCentive (why nonexperts can sometimes solve the technical problems that have eluded expert teams for years) or the failure of traditional brainstorming or the power of random conversations and coffee breaks.  My advertising-invested son would benefit from pages on WK12, the Widen+Kennedy advertising school, and the quest for the individual voice.  We're all going to love the "Toy Story 2" tale (even if we've heard much of it before).  And I know a guy who works to change the shape and fate of Philadelphia who would love the whole book, no doubt, but would particularly enjoy the parts about why cities exist, and what happens when pedestrians walk fast, and why strange encounters with strangers (even if annoying, sweaty, hot) are not just inevitable but essential.

Then there are my blogging friends—many of you, most of you—who have become far more than blogging friends.  Your interests are broad.  Your intentions are good.  Your desire to have the right impact changes lives; it certainly has changed mine.  I choose this quote for all of you, then.  I choose it for us—ripe, weird, original, and (thankfully) still striving. 
If the Internet is going to become an accelerator of creativity, then we need to design websites that act like our most innovative cities.  Instead of sharing links with just our friends, or commenting anonymously on blog, or filtering the world with algorithms to fit our interests, we must engage with strangers and strange ideas.  The Internet has such creative potential; it's so ripe with weirdness and originality, so full of people eager to share their work and ideas.  What we need now is a virtual world that brings us together for real. 


KFP said...

Thanks so much. I have had a question-marked note to myself to find a copy of the "new book by the same guy who wrote How We Decide to see if I wanted to read it. Now I know the answer is yes.

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