Friday, May 27, 2005


Thinking about Thinking, Part 2 of 4

[. . . continued from part 1]

Complexity theory suggests that an emergent process approach would be more fruitful than applying the formal frameworks cited in Part 1. Please bear with me as I develop this notion.

Edison said:
Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration.
If I twist that just a bit, we could say that
It takes 99 common ideas to generate one brilliant one.
So, in simple terms, we start with a two-step process:
  1. generate lots of ideas
  2. winnow down to the brilliant ones.

Newton said:
If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants.
I assume he was standing on the one percent brilliant ideas, not the 99 common ideas. In essense he was saying, when I contemplate the brilliant ideas that others have had, I get brilliant ideas I would have not otherwise had.

Let's add three more steps to the process:
  1. generate lots of ideas
  2. winnow down to the brilliant ones
  3. share the brilliant ones
  4. be inspired by the shared brilliant ideas
  5. go to steps 1 or 3.

An old French proverb says:
Le malheur des uns fait le bonheur des autres.
Which means "the troubles of some make the joy of others" or as we say in English, "one man's trash is another man's treasure."

The question is, how do we know before hand which of all those common ideas is the brilliant one? We can't. What is a common idea to one person is a brilliant idea to another. It is almost circular -- what make's an idea brilliant is the brilliance it inspires in others. The important task is to preserve the intellectual pedigree(s) of brilliant ideas. This means preserving all the ideas, because we never know which we will want to link to (be brilliant) down the road.

We need to modify the process a little:
  1. generate lots of ideas
  2. preserve the ideas
  3. share the ideas
  4. be inspired by the shared ideas to be brilliant
  5. establish the links between your brilliant idea and its predecessors
  6. go to steps 1 or 3.

[continued in part 3 . . .]

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?