Where the ideas come from

No man is an island

1624 – English poet John Donne.

An average resident of a metropolis is almost three times more creative that the average resident of a small town, due to the power of the connection, the ability to discover new ideas and concepts because the presence of other people.

Some of the main concepts presents along the book:

  • The adjacent possible: At any moment, the world is capable of extraordinary change, but only certain changes an happen. Because there is something called momentum, a place in space and time where people, situation, technology, necessities… everything is to align creating something new.
  • Liquid network: A new idea is a network of cells exploring the adjacent possible of connections they can make in your mind. Of we analyze where the ideas se cristalizan y se tranforman en algo mas que corazonadas o sensaciones, nos dariamos cuenta que es en los momentos en los cuales intercambiamos opiniones con otros.
    • Into the book, Kevin Dunbar monitored and interview researchers to discover when the ideas are created, and he discovered the most important ideas happened in meetings when one research speak with other no in the soledad del laboratorio frente a un microscopio.
  • The slow hunch: Si bien seria ideal y magico creer que las ideas aparecen en un mágico momento de la nada, son como sensaciones, y que a lo largo de los años se van construyendo y un día aparecen, como algo completamente nuevo, como una solución a un problema que no sabíamos que teníamos o como un punto final que completa una solución.
  • Serendipity: La casualidad. Ahora provista por internet y la disponibilidad de cantidades de información que antes no estaban disponibles.
  • Errores e innovacion: Innovative environments thrive on useful mistakes, and suffer when the demands of quality control overwhelm them.
  • Exaptation: If mutation and error and serendipity unlock new doors in the biosphere’s adjacent possible, adapting an existing feature or technology for a different purpose help us explore the new possibilities that lurk behind those doors. My former profesor of Data Base said something very interesting: You can create a new road if you don’t know everything about the old road. The author presents two examples about this:
    • Gutenberg adapting the technology of the wine press, combining with the existing idea of movable type, to make the printing press
    • Feathers first evolved to keep dinosaurs warm, but turned out to be good for flying.
    • It is remarkable that in one case he is speaking about how to adapt a technology well know to other industry in a different context. And in the second case he is speaking about nature and their incredible ability to reformulate and create things. In both cases, the main idea is the necessity to reformulate something already existent to solve a new problem.
    • Finally the idea already presented about adjacent possible is again presented in the book under another light: cities are good for exaptation because they have so many different groups of people with different interests and experiences in close proximity.
    • Cross disciplinary teams and groups are excellent for innovation and creation, the knowledge of different fields, industries and technology permite implementar soluciones novedosas en un campo que ya fueron sobradamente probadas en otro.
  • Platforms: The benefits of being able to build on top of existing platforms, so you don’t have to reinvent everything from scratch each time. Eg, using GPS, RSS, HTML (itself built on top of SGML), Twitter’s API, TCP/IP, etc.
  • Fourth Quadrant: To understand if the innovation is the lone individual in a serendipity moment or networked groups, we need to analyze the behind of the most important discoveries and innovation in order to classify them.
    • Grafico de los 4 cuadrantes con las innovaciones en cada uno de los cuadrantes.

Both evolution and innovation thrive in collaborative networks where opportunities for serendipitous connections exist. Great discoveries often evolve as slow hunches, maturing and connecting to other ideas over time.

Chance favors the connected mind. 




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