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Steve Jobs innovation creativityI can’t believe I’ve never posted a blog about this… so ta dah!

New video post about creativity and innovation.

This is based on a PechaKucha talk I gave at The Varley Gallery about the importance of creative arts to innovation.

If you want to lick the tasty nugget right now, basically my thesis is that creativity and imagination are more important than science and technology.

Creativity and imagination create the innovative ideas that spur the development of science and technology – not the other way around.

If we want to encourage and support new innovation in science and technology in the future – we need to invest in the creative arts NOW.



The Word Part

There is an emphasis on science and technology and a devaluation of the creative arts, especially in our education system. There have been tons of budget cuts and the first to go are the arts – visual arts and then music, drama, they all get cut.

There’s a movement in our ministry towards something called the “integration of the arts”, which I agree with to a point. Using creative arts to teach any other subject matter is actually a really powerful option – it’s a really great way to learn and enrich a student’s learning experience.

However, the unexpected fallout with integration of the arts is zero budget for the arts in primary grades, coupled with the fact that the arts no longer have value in and of themselves. There’s no value attached to art play or non-goal oriented arts which contributes to whole brain thinking, creates better problem solvers and stimulates imagination and innovation.

All of which Neil Gaiman found out when he went to China in 2007 for the very first ever party approved science fiction and fantasy convention.

When Neil asked the party leaders how this all came about, the Chinese party was very open about it. They said that the Chinese are brilliant at making things from plans, from copying, from replicating – but they do not innovate.

They do not invent or imagine.

So they sent a delegation to the US, to apple, Microsoft and Google to learn what creates innovation.

What they found was that creative thinkers and innovators read science fiction and fantasy. They a roleplayed science fiction and fantasy.

They were involved in the creative arts. They drew, they painted, they imagined, they idealized. They were at a very early age involved in creative thinking and creating… which makes sense. Early and consistent practice helps build a muscle – any muscle.

When you imagine it helps you imagine, imagining helps you imagine. Creative arts helps you be more creative.

Creativity and imagination is what creates change and innovation.

The Case for Creative Arts

Microsoft has a fine art collection.

They display it in their offices to “humanize and energize the work environment” and “create an inspiring work environment that fosters creativity and innovation”.

Norio Ogha at Sony and Steve Jobs from Apple both knew and understood that for true technological innovation, you need a mix of technology and the liberal arts.

During a keynote at the worldwide developers conference in 2011, Steve Jobs said that creativity is a skill that needed to be nurtured and developed. He said, “we’re not just a tech company, even though we invent some of the highest technology products in the world. It’s the marriage of that plus the humanities and the arts that distinguishes Apple.

Vivek Wadhwa, is a visiting scholar at the University of California Berkeley, a senior research associate at Harvard law school and Director of research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and research commercialization at Duke University. Wadhwa says it’s commonly believed that engineer’s dominate silicone valley and that there’s a correlation between the capacity for innovation and an education in mathematics and the sciences.

Both assumptions are false.

Albert Einstein said, I’m enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles world.

Richard Feynman, who developed the theory of Quantum thermodynamics was a particle physicists and created Feynman diagrams. He also worked on the Manhattan project, was an artist, a painter and a sketcher, played the Bongo drums and understood that he needed to develop an intuition about physics, that the math wasn’t enough alone.

Harry Kroto designed the first carbon 6 3D model from 2D data which developed our ability to create nanotube technology. This was made possible through his first love, which is graphic design.

Again and again, creative arts comes *before* technological advances. Creativity and the imagination create the possibility of science and technology. Niels bohr helped to discover the principle of complementarity and quantum theory that a particle and a wave both exists – that a photon is both a particle and a wave by reading Du Cubism by Jacques Metzinger and Albert Glace. The reading of cubism actually helped him to coalesce his ideas into a viable working model.

Complimentarity in quantum theory also influenced Werner Heisenberg and his uncertainty principle; that you can’t know where a particle is and where it’s going at the time. This is directly related to the observer effect, which says that you cannot create an experiment in physics without impacting it.

Really, there’s no such thing as an objective reality. It is all subjective.

I’ve always wondered, do we discover and understand the rules and mechanics of the world that already objective really exist or do we imagine what they could be and then develop the science to explain it? Quantum mechanics says that it’s totally possible that we imagine the world and then the quantum field creates it. If that is the case, we need to promote creativity in play as soon as possible.

We need to promote as one of the highest priorities, non goal oriented experimentation and discovery. Imagination and fantasy are crucial to our future. We need to create a whole generation of human beings who can imagine a world and who will be able to innovate the technology that will change it, that will change the world.

I know enough about physics to give this talk because a creative innovator made a comic about it. We’re more likely to make intuitive and creative leaps to solve our energy crisis and global warming problems when we practice creative thinking right from the start, when we value the creative arts,

People like Matthew Inman are bringing a whole new level of science understanding, to a whole group of people through his comics. That’s creative innovation. He’s raised money. He’s created enough awareness to build a tesla museum through his interest and through his art. That’s what the creative arts do for us.

Math and science is important. Technology is important. I’m absolutely not saying they’re not, but they’re not what comes first. Math doesn’t create innovation. Science does not create innovation. They only give us the means to make real what the imagination and creativity make possible.

"Soul First" in your InBox


I haven’t been making much art over the past few months and it’s started to make me cranky. But when I sat down to start painting, I got stuck.

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