Hunting the spark of creativity
In his 1937 book, ‘Think and Grow Rich,’ author Napoleon Hill identified 13 steps to success, one of which was the power of the mastermind.
Parts of this research are very promising, but the overall goal is ill-considered because it misunderstands what we already know about creativity. 🙁
Using the power of computing networks to look for nuggets of knowledge that could easily lead to creativity or even be called creativity itself.
This is NOT a small task, but then again, the power of networked computers is something we have never seen before.
What I like about this:
They seem to be approaching parts of this problem very well. For example, recognizing that sub-groups have important relevant information that the main population will not know. This approach honors what Teresa Amabile identifies as “subject matter expertise” – a critical element to creativity (think: you have to know the rules to break them).
Also, they are looking in some ways at modeling Dean Keith Simonton’s idea that part of the “background processing” in incubation is the darwinian killing of ideas that do not answer the requested question (like a key that do not fit a lock are thrown away). If you have ever had an ‘aha!’ moment, your mind found the key to the lock!
I also like the fact that you never know WHAT they will discover – I personally doubt it will be creativity in computers, but it may be interesting correlations to be found in “big data”
What I wish they were doing differently:
This quote gets me hopping mad:
“The researchers say relatively little data is available on how the creative process develops over time in real-world groups, and what the key dynamics are in producing the most innovative ideas or products. They hope the insights gained from their work will provide both a theoretical and practical basis for understanding the process of natural creativity in individuals and networks.” (emphasis mine)
Well that will come as a rude shock to researchers and practitioners in at least three (3) schools / organizations that have been studying and exploring creativity and its foundations for about 50 years! There are also many, many other schools and organizations studying creativity now, and they too are likely to be more than a little miffed!
Note to the researchers: please use the exiting data and models to advance your work. You will get farther standing on their shoulders of those who came before than you will in re-creating the wheel.
See on phys.org