Why Greg Satell’s Advice On The Creative Process Is Wrong

Copyright November, 21, 2017 All Rights Reserved

There are so many opinions on the creative process and what creativity is, and where it comes from, that it is easy to be confused. Hey, I’m confused when I read so much of that crap and I know exactly where it comes from. That’s how bad it really is out there. So I was not surprised by the article by Greg Satell, “How Technology Enhances Creativity” in which he gives his best college try on the topic and fails. In fact, I couldn’t keep from holding back a slight giggle at the title, seeing as how I know so much about the subject of technology effecting the human mind that at the suggestion of Dr. Itiel Dror, who at the time was a professor of psychology at the University of Southampton in the UK, I created a new term for the subject – technocogninetics. That’s differentiated from cognitive technology by the fact that technocogninetics only cares about how the technology effects human consciousness and isn’t concerned as much with feedback, where as the academics hijacked cognitive technology from its original definition so that it now only refers to mind/machine interactions that involve feedback. So, in other words, when someone makes a statement like, ‘how technology enhances creativity’, they are making a statement on a technocogninetic relationship, whether they know it or not, and I pay attention to see if they have any idea about what they’re talking about. Sadly, Satell doesn’t.

What he does in his article is set-up a list of ideas that he feels defines the creative process. I’ll take ’em as they come –

1. Intent. “It is through forming intent that we establish the constraints under which creativity thrives.”

I could actually end the articles right here. He believes that we need constraints in order for creativity to thrive. That means that he’s completely unfamiliar with free-form, spontaneous, or other unstructured approaches to creativity which means that he’s no expert and so why are we even bothering with him in the first place? OK, class dismissed, unless of course you want to earn extra bonus points by sticking around for the rest of this analysis. Alright, moving on…

2. Searching the Domain.

Essentially, he’s referring to gathering inspiration from your surroundings, which is a given but also not a requirement. I guess he’s not heard of mentally escaping your environment to get creative ideas and inspiration.

3. Tangling Hierarchies: “Truly revolutionary creative acts come from synthesizing across domains, as Picasso did with African and European art or Darwin did by combining insights from economics, geology and biology to come up with his theory of natural selection.”

Again, basically a half-truth. Einstein’s theories didn’t borrow anything and they were the most revolutionary. And this is an important observation – there’s nothing so far here that I would have suggested at a seminar. These are all gimmicks and that’s what people who really don’t understand creativity and where it comes from, resort to. They look at the results of creative people and then think that they can learn something from that. The results are only part of the story. The rest remains in the head of the artist. A very important point that I’ll continue next.

He ends his list there but then he makes another interesting comment:

“We are no longer separated by time and space, but are largely working off of the same massive database. The sum total of human knowledge is merely a few clicks away. Domains are no longer hidden behind barriers of circumstance or tradition, but are accessible to anyone with a search engine.”

Again, ‘yes’ and ‘no’. The fact is that no matter how much he thinks we’re working from the same data base and that everything is accessible to everyone, he misses a very important point. The point is, I don’t care how accessible data is, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re not going to find it. As a professional researcher I have oft times marveled at the successes I’ve had in finding data that has been available to other researchers decades before I ever came upon the scene. I’ll give you some time frames for examples – 1967 – 2003, 1978 – 2006, 1988 – 2003, 322 BC to 2003, 430 BC to 2003. Yeah, those last two are BC (Before Christ) and refer to ideas from Aristotle and Zeno that I was able to prove wrong. The info to do it was there all along, FOR CENTURIES but hey, who’s complaining, right? My point is that this goes to something that I’ve commented on before, been awarded for proving before and I presented in a paper on it at the 2014 100 Year Starship Symposium, and that is the power of modes of perception. Ever hear of not being able to see the forest for the trees? I bet Satell hasn’t or he forgot about it, because that little saying renders the importance of his idea of data access, null and void. Let me put it another way – with all the spying and surveillance going on, the biggest problem in the intel business is HUMINT. That’s Brotherhood talk for Human Intelligence. In other words, having enough people to sift through all that crap to find what you need, not just what you’re looking for because you could be looking for the wrong thing, thinking that you’re on the right track. Access to data is only half the battle, and it’s not the half that will win you the war.

The rest of the article diverges from this main theme and actually covers some issues that I have no problems with. When he wraps it up at the end, however, he makes a comment that echoes what I’ve just said, which makes me think that he doesn’t really understand what he’s even talking about –

“The fact that everyone has access to a wealth and diversity of ideas and the means to actualize intent means that we all can be more creative. As Jaron Lanier put it, “in a virtual world of infinite abundance, only creativity could ever be in short supply.”

The quote from Lanier, reinforces my point about access to data – that even with an infinite abundance of it, there’s no guarantee that creativity will increase, yet Satell prefaces that quote with the statement that means “we can all be more creative”. Yes, we can, but it doesn’t mean that we will be, and that’s what I address – how to be. Mind you, I don’t in my blogging because that is end product material that I only cover in seminars, but I make it perfectly clear that I know enough about the process that makes all of this fluff that is promulgated out there, appear clearly to me as the perfumed refuse that it is. But I do want to contribute the video below as another viewpoint that I felt was well worth the 19 minutes for you to view, if you want to understand more about creativity. You might say it’s getting my tacit approval, which is saying a lot, as I spent about an hour for something to insert in here as I like embedding videos to make my point. This was the hardest task so far with this blog. Of everything I looked at, I felt that Gerard Puccio’s talk at TEDx Gramercy was the best, stressing that we all have creativity, why we don’t use it, the importance of it, and more.




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