Wednesday, June 10, 2015

TWIC: City Flags, overwork and Camp Nano

Roman Mars of the 99% Invisible Podcast has also done a TED talk on City Flags and how poorly designed they are.  I have yet to see the video but I am not surprised; people often overestimate their skills in unfamiliar fields.  I can say the 99% Invisible podcast is informative and well-done.
Scientific American tells us that the exhausted brain is a creative one. turns out that mental exhaustion from overwork can itself unleash creativity. When we are tired, our mind can be too weary to control our thoughts, and eccentric ideas that might normally be filtered out as non-relevant can bubble up, suggests a recent study by Rémi Radel at the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France. This means that perhaps creative ideas can be hatched at the workplace, right when we feel drained from a mental overload.
I don't want to quote too much from the article; you should read it yourself.  In brief, though, 'exhausted' is a relative term.  Research subjects were given challenges with greater or lesser distractions and those that had to struggle to focus more were more creative in tests afterwards.

The technical term is 'inhibition'.  Rested minds inhibited their mental digressions while tired ones were uninhibited and brought new ideas to combine with the project at hand.

As for the tests:
First, they asked the students to enlist multiple, innovative uses for common objects, such as paperclip, newspaper, shoe. Next, they tested the students’ ability to connect unrelated words. They presented the students with a “priming word” followed by “target word” – for example, they flashed the word tiger followed by the word loni, jumbled from lion – and asked the students to vote whether the target word was a real or a non-existent word.
Being creative is not just about achieving a state of low inhibition, which is probably what we get from alcohol or drugs, but about tweaking inhibition for brief stints without losing control.
I don't think it is a microscopically small camp, but it is a Nanowrimo Camp and it runs through July.  I don't know if I will formally enter it but I have prepared some writing goals myself and will share them here soon.

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