The Garden of Ideas

Here’s a diversion that is more than worthwhile:

Seasonal Greetings

A quiet moment for the holiday recorded by some friends and fellow choristers with best wishes for a restful and peaceful holiday

Gratitude

Thanks once again to Robert Genn – here is something worth watching. You need 10 minutes.

Where we actually learn

Still Life 2009
Robert Genn gave excellent advice again this morning. He had received a query from an artist who didn’t like the fact that work completed in art class was not allowed to be considered for a juried show – the reason being that it might be too much influenced by the instructor.

My own art class experience in recent years is just the opposite. The still life that the instructor and my classmates liked best was set up by the instructor – though the tea pot is my own. But the real point was about how and where we learn. Here’s in part was Robert’s reply:

“Fact is, walls or not, all the world’s a classroom. Fact is, life’s a classroom where curiosity reigns with both over-the-shoulder interest and the joys of struggling alone. Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson is a new book that analyzes historic waves of human brilliance. Gutenberg, Darwin, the Wright Brothers and even modern computer whiz-bangs show that innovation comes from accumulated knowledge, constructive errors and the magnificent happenstance of “information spillover” (information intended for one gets picked up, carried, and improved by another). And good stuff happens anywhere–labs, workshops, hangars, garages and, yep, classrooms.”

Sounds like the book in question is worth a read too.

Hyper-thinking

One of my favourite images of the year is one a padded post – to keep smart phone users from bumping into it and banging their heards. I have no idea whether it has been staged, – purportedly it exists in London England, but it strikes me as a great message for how we are evolving.

Ann Herrmann CEO of Herrmann International uses it as an example of what she calls Hyper-Thinking, – multi-tasking to the extent that we lose all contact with the real world of which we are a part. I see it in my children and grandchildren. I see it in myself from time to time.

Stanford University researchers confirm that multi-taskers perform much more poorly than they think.

The solutions

– Face the fact that complex issues need focused attention
– Plan time to work without interruption; schedule such time and commit to it
– Recognize that your own experience may provide as many insights as Google and let nature influence you at least as much as technology
– Try doodling as an alternative to surfing ( incidentally Mind Mapping with images is a great form of doodling)

Ann also recommends Herrmann International’s Thinking Magnet. It looks like a great tool. More on that later.

Back from holidays – and starting to take one

So how did we do? Well there was wi-fi access for the phone but none for the computer, which apparently was never set up for it. Whether it is age or setup I didn’t know or care. A trip to the bank solved a bill paying issue and e-mail arrived by phone. Most of it wasn’t very exciting.

But there were compensations. there was time to read my entire website and tweak it a bit. There was time to read the only e-book on the laptop, Robert Fritz‘s Your Life as Art and realize again how good it is. My granddaughter and I had almost daily painting sessions. She produced several water-scapes to my three or four and one highly dramatic volcano, along with numerous drawings of her favorite things in the whole world, – horses. We took in the Goderich ON Celtic Festival and heard lots of good performers and groups, – the unbelievable Gareth Pearson from Wales who can make one guitar sound like a substantial ensemble and has incredible self parody to accompany some masterful playing, and Quebec’s DeTemps Antan and Newfoundland’s The Once among the favorites.

Back home, the multitasking starts almost immediately. While reading e-mail, the phone rings. Incoming news rates entering an appointment in the Blackberry. I’m not joined at the hip to Ipods or Ipads – yet. A short pause suggests playing a computer game while I wait for someone with an appointment to arrive. Technology is starting to control me again.

So I am turning everything off for a bit. There are a couple of projects that require some major thought. I’ll take a walk in the nearby ravine. I’ll do some personal writing that I have promised myself to do that is getting swamped by all this stuff. I’ll practice the penny whistle that I bought at the music festival. And I’ll produce a watercolour. These can’t be done by multitasking – and they are creative pursuits as opposed to entertainment. There are still two key meetings toward the end of the day. But the brain needs some focus and these alternatives are ways of letting some different neurons come out to play.

Tweet Less, Kiss More

I liked Bob Herbert’s recent title in the New York Times, reminding us of how we are starting to be controlled by technology rather than taking control of it. The attachment to cell phones, e-mail, tweets, facebook “friends”, cable news with multiple screens all changing at once all have positives individually – but collectively?

No I’m not heading for ditto machines, – just a holiday – and yes I’ll be taking the laptop and the cell – but I also hope to walk a beach, enjoy the grandchildren, attend a summer music festival, draw, marvel at a sunset or sunrise – and be a little more human and a little less geeky.

So Out of Office – and back in a couple of weeks