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Hare Brain Tortoise Mind

Was browsing David Gurteen's site (which is excellent) and saw that he had wondered where ideas came from.

Which made me think knowledge management and running before walking.My initial reaction I've lifted back and put here.

Where ideas come from seems pretty much like the holy grail of KM to me.

Some miscellaneous comments

1) The Greeks had one take on it. When Hesiod outlined the family tree for the Gods, he noted that the Goddess Memory was mother of the Muses (the goddesses who were responsible for creative inspiration). Fortune favours the prepared mind etc.

2) There is definitely something about hot showers and baths! Archimedes's eureka moment? Might be interesting to compile a list.

3) I don't know enough about the science, but read an interesting book a while ago called "Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind".

It's basic idea was staring out of the window/having a shower is productive.

Modern preconceptions have it that simply by applying our brains and concentrating hard enough on a problem (e.g. a crossword clue), we should be able to see the solution. This is the "Hare brain" approach.

The book says that there are two types of solution moments. Yes, one is when we sit down and just think hard. But there is another solution moment which comes seemingly out of nowhere, when we've been staring out the window, or having a shower, going for a walk. This is the tortoise mind approach. This is a result of a) having done the hare brain thinking in the first place and b) just relaxing your frontal lobes, and letting the rest of your brain "background render" the solution.Anyway.

David had an idea in the shower (his common workspace) was wondering about where ideas came from. I just put down, possibly not very helpfully, two knee jerk reactions: memory, and letting your subconscious do the work.

Problem is, and I'm going to bow to David's vastly better knowledge about these things, if he isn't particularly sure where ideas come from, then how are people going about setting up environments or networks to foster creativity? (Apart from, ahem, communal showers)

And given that that they are doing this with varying degrees of success, what sort of benefit can understanding memes, networks, memory, and where ideas come from bring? And is it really that helpful?

It looks as though it's going to be a while (if ever) before we fully understand any of the drivers behind ideas and creativity. In many ways it looks as though we're just at the beginning. But where I think that the science behind having ideas can help is in outlining worst practices. Hare Brain Tortoise Mind findings may not give you any better clues as to how best to foster ideas, but they can tell you what to avoid. Thinking, expecting solutions and not taking time out to let the other 90% of your brain do the work.

In passing, David's Knowledge Cafe's look good - I need to get along to one of these - they remind me slightly of Mr Lloyd (of Bank of England fame) and the rise of coffee shops in the London c.1700!

On which note, given the rambliness of this, I think it's time for another cup of tea.

Ideas comment thread - on Gurteen.com
Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind (by Guy Claxton) - at Amazon.co.uk
Guy Claxton - Homepage


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