Note — Jun 30, 2019

Isaac Asimov Asks, “How Do People Get New Ideas?”

Seen in → No.86

Source → technologyreview.com/s/531911/isaac-asimov-...

Asimov on ideas and creativity is very close to an automatic inclusion here. An unpublished 1959 essay on creativity, ideas, solitude, co-creation, brainstorms, and facilitation. Although he doesn’t use most of those terms. I, for one, will from now on aim to use “cerebration session” instead of brainstorm (not really but I like it).

That is the crucial point that is the rare characteristic that must be found. Once the cross-connection is made, it becomes obvious. […]

But why didn’t he think of it? The history of human thought would make it seem that there is difficulty in thinking of an idea even when all the facts are on the table. Making the cross-connection requires a certain daring. It must, for any cross-connection that does not require daring is performed at once by many and develops not as a “new idea,” but as a mere “corollary of an old idea.” […]

I would suggest that members at a cerebration session be given sinecure tasks to do—short reports to write, or summaries of their conclusions, or brief answers to suggested problems—and be paid for that, the payment being the fee that would ordinarily be paid for the cerebration session. The cerebration session would then be officially unpaid-for and that, too, would allow considerable relaxation.”

Elsewhere: Somehow I still had this paragraph by Bryan Boyer from six years ago pop into my head, which fits nicely with Asimov’s cerebrations.

Through empirical study conducted over the course of 13 months I’ve concluded that the perfect table for a social gathering of 8-16 people is 2 meters in diameter. At this size a group will be able to maintain a single conversation without any one individual being so distant from their complement on the opposite side that it is not possible for them to discuss. Likewise, the round shape allows all to share a single conversation if they choose, without preventing people from breaking into smaller subgroups. Also important: the broccoli is never further away than the arm-span of two people.

And it reminds me of this one by Matt Webb, specifically; “Space beats structure, Informality wins, Convening not chairing, Bonfires not fireworks.” Which of course makes me want to re-start my own Les ponts which I haven’t held in (checks notes) almost a year!!