Truth is people don’t actually like creativity

There was an interesting article in Slate a few weeks ago about the bias against creativity, about the fact that most people say they like creativity but that the truth is we really don’t. And since I work in a creative agency often presenting creative ideas to clients the theory based on a 2011 study used in this article makes a whole lot of sense to me.

“We think of creative people in a heroic manner, and we celebrate them, but the thing we celebrate is the after-effect,” says Barry Staw, a researcher at the University of California–Berkeley business school who specializes in creativity. Staw says most people are risk-averse. He refers to them as satisfiers. “As much as we celebrate independence in Western cultures, there is an awful lot of pressure to conform,” he says. Satisfiers avoid stirring things up, even if it means forsaking the truth or rejecting a good idea.  Even people who say they are looking for creativity react negatively to creative ideas, as demonstrated in a 2011 study from the University of Pennsylvania. Uncertainty is an inherent part of new ideas, and it’s also something that most people would do almost anything to avoid. People’s partiality toward certainty biases them against creative ideas and can interfere with their ability to even recognize creative ideas .

Clients will come to us for creative tasks since that’s what we’re most known for. You can literally witness though how the creative ideas that were presented and liked by the clients will be softened once they start to move through the chain of command. That is if you allow that to happen, we’re quite protective on the essence of an idea to make sure that while we’re very open to tweak it we will make sure that that essential core idea is never lost.

Most people agree that what distinguishes those who become famously creative is their resilience. While creativity at times is very rewarding, it is not about happiness. Staw says a successful creative person is someone “who can survive conformity pressures and be impervious to social pressure.”

And of course I realize like anyone else that some creative ideas are just not good or are creative but not an answer to the question or briefing at hand. This is purely about ideas that are recognized as good and creative and how they are being judged during the decision process. This is about how people often reject creative ideas even when espousing creativity as a desired goal (as the research so eloquently puts it).

In terms of decision style, most people also fall short of the creative ideal. they are satisficers rather than searcher for the optimal or most desirable solution. They follow a number of energy-saving heuristics that generally lead to a set of systematic biases or inaccuracies in processing information. And, unless they are held accountable for their decision-making strategies, they tend to find the easy way out – either by not engaging in very careful thinking or by modeling their choices on the preferences of those who will be evaluating them.

Especially that last sentence is a problem I think. Not only in judging creativity by the way. When people make decision upon what they think someone else will probably think of it instead of what they think themselves sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. There’s a clear link with management style there as well. How much do you empower your own people? It seems that to enable creativity you need to do that.

Instead of issuing directives and policy statements and hoping that they will be obeyed, innovative firms must encourage disobedience. In fact, those in power should go so far as to encourage active opposition. Innovative organizations are those that harbor multiple perspectives and objectives, not simply a variety of views.

Last but not least, it’s also why creativity takes courage – dixit Henri Matisse. Definitely an interesting read, be sure to check the full article.

When augmentation is about reducing (Pt. 2)

In February of this year I wrote a post about Kevin Slavin’s talk on Augmented Reality at PICNIC NY Salon. In that video he talked about something that made total sense to me… which to be honest is true for most of what Kevin says anyway :)

“His thoughts around augmented cities and why maybe ‘augmented’ should be about taking things away instead of just adding them to the world as we are already drowning in data as it is.”

So when I got this video today from a colleague about a research project on ‘Dimished Reality’ by Jan Herling and Wolfgang Broll of the  Ilmenau University of Technology, it was like a proof of the concept Kevin talked about a year ago now. I don’t like the name ‘Dimished Reality’ because it still is doing more on top of what is really there. But in this case less really is more, check it out:

Reading white papers on the iPad (Evolved)

I recently figured out a nice way to read white papers on the iPad and thus finally catch up to the reading of all those white papers. It was/is a good solution but there are 2 elements that could be improved:

  1. Would have been nice to be able to open the PDF’s in iBooks straight from Dropbox without having to open them in Dropbox first and then in iBooks. Minor issue but could be easier.
  2. You can bookmark pages in iBooks on the iPad but that’s pretty much all the interaction that’s possible. It could have been better if you could make all kinds of annotations on the document, like notes or highlights etc.

And well what do you know, I just found out there’s a solution for that called GoodReader, a relatively new app for the iPad. It doesn’t look half as good as iBooks where you get that nice view of all your document covers on those shelves… but you can sync with your Dropbox folder from within the app and you can make all kinds of annotations on the document which you can save separately as annotations or immediately within the document. Sounds like a winner to me.

Check it out.

A video trip down to memory lane: the Youtube Time Machine

The YTTM offers an interesting way to watch videos from a specific year in between 1860 and 2010. Pick a year and choose one or more categories (video games, television, commercials, …) and you get a video that fits the selection.

Let’s find out what happened in 1973 – the year I was born in case you were wondering ;)

[Via The Denver Egotist]

Reading white papers on the iPad

I have this habit of downloading pretty much every white paper, research, … that I come across online. I then put them in a Dropbox folder so it’s shared with colleagues and they’re easy to access from multiple devices. They’re also mostly in PDF format for easy reading so sounds like I’ve got it all figured out don’t you think?

Problem is I never get to ready any of it. I don’t like reading them on screen of my PC and it’s not worth printing them all out either, that would be a lot of paper wasted especially since some stuff isn’t worth reading anyway… but that you only find out once you start reading them. This week I found the ideal solution though. Since they’re already all on Dropbox and I got Dropbox on the iPad, I opened all the files in iBooks and now I have a gigantic (will that’s probably a bit exaggerated) collection of white papers, presentations, research, … to read when I have the time.

iBookPDF

With another week in the hospital ahead of me (routine stuff, no worries) this is just going to be perfect reading :)

Sketch2Photo: do want.

This is a pretty awesome piece of software I must admit, too bad it’s not publicly available yet so you’ll have to do it with the photos and videos instead. The software composes a realistic picture based on simple freehand sketch annotated with text labels. Basically the sketch below is supposed to result in the photo next to it (and a few alternatives) based on photos found on the internet. If that really works… you’ll have to agree that that is pretty cool.

teaser

Here’s the full process:

overview

You can see more examples as well as a video showing the process on the Sketch2Photo website.

[Via The Web Life]

My persona?

First things first, Clo explained it best what this is all about:

Personas | Metropath(ologies) | An installation by Aaron Zinmanis "a component of the Metropath(ologies) exhibit, currently on display at the MIT Museum by the Sociable Media Group from the MIT Media Lab. It uses sophisticated natural language processing and the Internet to create a data portrait of one’s aggregated online identity. In short, Personas shows you how the Internet sees you.

Sounded interesting so of course I had to give this one a try. And indeed nice animation while your profile/persona is being created – mine ended with this:

personasweb

Not sure where ‘religion’ or ‘politics’ is coming from but I suppose everything happens for a reason ;). In the meantime I saw other people I follow create their own Persona Web but then I got curious to see which results it would generate when looking for brands such as Duval Guillaume (the agency I work for), Windows Live, Kinepolis, Marlboro, … etc and then I must say I got kinda disappointed. The results always seem to turn out very similar… almost the same really. Too bad, hope they keep developing because they’re definitely on to something here.

All of this got me thinking though. Wouldn’t it be possible to search on a brand name for blogs, twitter, … etc and then look up the content of the last 10-20 posts and turn that into a word cloud similar to what Wordle creates? I would definitely be interested in seeing the result of that. Let me know when it’s ready ;)

Meet the connected consumer

Last week Razorfish released their 2008 Consumer Experience Report which had (according to the report) a simple mission:

“To gain a better understanding of how technology affects today’s digital consumer experience and explore the emerging trends that will shape those experiences for years to come.”

I’ve been reading the report during my flight back home from Los Angeles and found it very much worth the time. Although I do prefer research that isn’t just US focused, I can recommend this to everyone so make sure you download it and check it out (PDF). More results are to be expected on Razorfish’s Digital Design Blog according to this post.