Capturing Creativity

Interesting artcile from Psychology Today: LookSmart’s Capturing creativity. Robert Epstein (last to receive a Ph.D. from B.F. Skinner) lists four strategies for generating creative output. These are

  • Capturing: The main thing that distinguishes “creative” people from the rest of us is that the creative ones have learned ways to pay attention to and then to preserve some of the new ideas that occur to them. They have capturing skills. In other words, get a PDA and learn how to use it.
  • Challenging: One way to accelerate the flow of new ideas is by challenging yourself–that is, by putting yourself in difficult situations in which you’re likely to fail to some extent. A challenging situation is like an “extinction” procedure in the behavioral laboratory. We extinguish behavior when we withdraw the reinforcers that usually maintain that behavior. In challenging situations, a great deal of behavior goes unreinforced; it just doesn’t work.
  • Broadening: If you want to enhance your own creativity, take courses in subjects you know nothing about. Once a year, at least, take a course at a local college in the last thing you’d ever want to know about. Land’s own breakthrough invention came about because of training he had in crystallography, chemistry, and other fields. The invention of Velcro, the modern theory of electron spin, and countless other advances were made possible because their creators had training in diverse fields. Steve Jobs recently made a point of how his training in caligraphy contributed to the intitial success of the Macintosh.
  • Surrounding: Finally, you can enhance your creativity by surrounding yourself with diverse stimuli–and, even more important, by changing those stimuli regularly. Diverse and changing stimuli promote creativity because, like resurgence, they get multiple behaviors competing with each other. If you put a Mickey Mouse hat and pliers on your desk in the morning, your thinking will move in odd directions during the day. Call these items distractions, if you like; they are great reservoirs of creativity

Found this reading a ./ article discussing SAS management styles.


NASA World Wind

NASA World Wind brings a huge amount of NASA’s satellite imagery to your computer, allowing you to zoom from satellite altitude into any place on Earth. It also uses a 3D model of the earth so you aren’t just looking at flat images but have a real-life view of the topography you’re flying over.

Google Earth is a similar application. And of course, you don’t even need to download and install either of these free applications if all you need is a quick look, both Google Maps and Microsoft’s Terraserver offer satellite imagery of Earth.


Free phones for your computer

VOIP has been changing the telephone and communications industry for the past several years. From giant enterprise devlopments to individual PC users, the ability to communicate over IP networks opens up huge possibilities that never before existed.

Skype brought VOIP to the computing masses with a simple client that worked right. Unfortunately the the proprietary system that Skype uses restricts further innovation by 3rd parties.

Gizmo and ineen are two VOIP software packages that use the SIP standard to communicate with anyone using a compliant software package.