The November issue of The Atlantic magazine celebrates its 160th anniversary with a cover story on a search for the Science of Creativity — at search giant Google.
The Atlantic’s Senior Editor Derek Thompson, “was granted rare access to the secretive lab at X to see what it can teach us about breakthroughs and the lost art of invention.”
It’s a well written piece:
A snake-robot designer, a balloon scientist, a liquid-crystals technologist, an extra dimensional physicist, a psychology geek, an electronic-materials wrangler, and a journalist walk into a room…
The setting is X, the so-called moonshot factory at Alphabet, the parent company of Google… The people in this room have a particular talent: They dream up far-out answers to crucial problems.
Thompson’s conclusion after several days in the lab:
“Insisting on quick products and profits is the modern attitude of innovation that X continues to quietly resist. For better and worse, it is imbued with an appreciation for the long gestation period of new technology.”
Foremski’s Take: There’s little that’s “secretive” about Google’s X initiatives. The company gets enormous attention for its far out ideas such as mining asteroids and stem-cell burgers. Its most popular one is the self-driving car initiative which gets so many media stories you’d think Google was a car maker.
It has been so incredibly successful in publicizing its futuristic ideas that reporters rarely ever report on its actual business.
Google makes no money from any of its lab projects. They have absolutely no material impact on its business today and well into the future. And as Thompson noted, Google is in no hurry to make them into profitable businesses. So why do they exist?
There’s no need to develop them further because they already serve a valuable purpose — they are engineered to be a series of clickbait distractions for reporters to write stories about science and innovation. It’s easier than delving into how Google made $90 billion last year.
If reporters looked closely at Google’s business they would find better and more important stories that impact our world and our communities today — not in a distant future.
However, few reporters understand how Google makes money — ask them something basic such as to name Google’s two largest business groups and they cannot. It means they cannot even start to understand the deeper complexities of how money is made on the Internet.
Google’s X is not about the science of creativity — it’s about the use of science as a distraction of public attention — from a secretive business organization that influences the economies of nations. It’s a big, bigger story.
I love music. I love the virtuosity. Music’s not just words and chat, it’s talent, skill and virtuosity. Much more sexy!
When I was in New York in the 70s my showbiz friends introduced me to Bette Midler and we would go over to her brownstone in the Village on Saturday afternoons and she would make tea and we would create material … songs and dialog … for her new Broadway show, Clams on the Half Shell Revue.
In the event I was invited backstage by Bette to the opening night and I had the fun of seeing her perform some of my lines and one of my songs on the Broadway stage. It was a big buzz for a young Aussie in NYC in the 70s. A different era.
But, on the night, performing the supporting act for her show was the jazz legend of vibes, Lionel Hampton. I was a huge fan and was more excited to see him even than Bette. Just kidding. Anyway, here is the great legend of the vibes (and drums) … Go Lionel! …
NEW COURSE: Ten Mindful Emojis
To sign up for this 10 DFQ streaming course
just click here and say “emojis please”.
NOTE: When you SMS or text, you can put the magnifying glass emoji at the beginning of your message to show that you are deliberately being forensic. This deliberateness is important and is called 'being mindful' or metacognition.
Is it true? Fact check. Search more information. Be attentive to facts and figures. Be aware of true news or fake news? When you text or SMS this emoji you just give neutral information. You are not polarised or biased. You are a sort of wikipedia. Just get the facts out. Be alert to all the information you can on the current situation.
Be Negative. Think inside the box. Use Black Hat thinking. Be conscious of the fact that you are being deliberately judgmental. Say why you think it’s wrong. Why it won’t work. Why it’s not true. Why you do not believe it or do not agree with it. Note that if you’re simply being emotional then that comes under another emoji.
This is the emotional emoji. Feelings. The full range from comedy to tragedy. Emotions are important. It is better when they are informing your thinking not just controlling your thinking. Moods are part of life. Are you in an up mood or a down mood? Just say what you feel about the situation without bothering to explain. You hate it. You love it. Say, “I’m being emotional”. Feelings and personal values are part of every situation. Be emotional.
American thinker, Mark Twain, said, “Kindness is a language the blind can see and the deaf can hear”. Of course, just because the generous emoji is a bag of cash doesn’t mean it has to be cash. It’s symbolic. It can be time. An attentive ten minute visit with a friend. It can be energy. A thoughtful good deed or a chosen kind word. Share the good things, pass them on. Offer kindness first. Maybe even twice. But, no need to be a sucker.
This emoji is for creative ideas. The ideas do not have to be sensible or logical. You can use provocations. You can try things out. You can use x10 thinking to escape from the box! The purpose is to be awake to new ideas. Your career, business, investment and commercial success is directly related to the quality of your decisions. Every day you make decisions that will either increase your wealth or decrease your wealth. Every day you will do things that either create value or drain value. Your choice.
This is strategic and laid back. This is detached and objective. Here you are organising your thinking about the situation. Cool is for thinking about your thinking and we call this being mindful or metacognition. Strategy is for giving instructions to yourself and others. Cool is neutral. You can be deliberately exploring the subject through the use of the other thinking emojis: Be forensic. Be emotional. Be judgmental etc. The possibilities, options, strategies, tactics, pathways, trajectories, networks and proximities that are available for you to think about can accelerate your own personal productivity and results. Don’t be stupid. Be strategic.
Use the crown emoji for The Wisdom of King Solomon or the Wisdom of Queen Elizabeth or any wise person you can find. Where can we find wisdom? Who has the most knowledge? Who has the most experience?
WISDOM = KNOWLEDGE + EXPERIENCE.
At least 50+ years. Who has seen it all before? Who was there in history? First-hand knowledge? Skin in the game? Consequences? Survival? Avoid the mindless, inattentive and careless ones.
Modern song lyrics like Pharrell Williams “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth” and Bobby McFerrins’ “Don’t worry Be Happy” are not new ways of thinking. Deliberately choosing a positive mindset goes back at least 2500 years as far as the Epicureans of Ancient Greece. But humans haven’t changed much since then so it’s still very good advice. Don’t worry.
R&R. Rest & Recuperation. Recharge the batteries. Take-it-easy. Your brain is the biggest engine in your body. It consumes more fuel and generates more energy. Give it a rest and a time to recover. Give it a holiday from your screens and your gadgets. Your physical, mental and emotional health cannot be separated from the pattern of choices you make. Every hour of every day you are designing your future. If your designs are tired or weak your future cannot be strong. Be mindful.
In today’s world there are BIG issues of privacy and security. Your own privacy. Your own security is at constant risk in the crackling chaos of the internet–the 24/7/365 whirling, howling, cacophonous wilderness of the greedy grasping global marketplace with its siren songs, ferocious fads and hoaxes, toxic wastes and vicious moods, its callous explosions, its viral plagues and epidemics and cruel and sudden extinctions. Your own survival and growth, in a Darwinian sense, cannot be separated from the pattern of how you make your decisions over time. If you don’t do your own better thinking others will do it for you. These other people, institutions or authorities may not do it well at all or even in your best interests.
Easy instructions on how to use the Ten Mindful Emojis: • Mindful emojis are always put at the beginning of the text message, not the end. • Mindful emojis are a powerful thinking software for the brain. For example, the looking glass mindful emoji “BE FORENSIC” is a software algorithm for the deliberate use of forensic thinking. • Mindful emojis can be sent to yourself, to others or to groups.
Copyright © School of Thinking. 2017. All rights reserved.
true 1. in accordance with fact or reality. 2. genuine; not spurious or counterfeit.
– Oxford English Dictionary
The very short version of this two-part article is simply to know how to ask and how to get a good answer to the direct and searching question: Is it true? That’s it and good luck.
The longer version
However, for those who want a little more we can continue with the longer version where we will unpack this simple but very powerful question and learn more about how to use it and how to be sure to get a good answer. This is the first and most basic question of science: Is it true?
Fasten your seat belts! It’s a bit of a rocky ride.
My primary motivation for this article is for the particular welfare of the vulnerable young brain which is exposed, for hours and hours every day, to the bare, intimate and unchaperoned screen of a personal smartphone.
Other current gadgets, too, like laptops and gametops and the accelerating and careening future into … OMG … the internet of things!
Frightened of stranger danger at the end of their street youngsters are lovingly driven to school in the morning and picked up in the afternoon.
Yet, these young brains, naked and unprotected with their latest smartphone never far from their grasp, are then set free to blindly venture forth into a world of hackers and trolls, tricksters and cybercriminals, and bullies and the bogeyman!
Children are absurdly inexperienced, insecure and ill-equipped in their approach to the crackling chaos of the internet–the 24/7/365 whirling, howling, cacophonous wilderness of the greedy grasping global marketplace with its siren songs, ferocious fads, toxic wastes and vicious moods, its callous explosions, its viral plagues and epidemics and cruel and sudden extinctions.
These hidden minefields of traps and predators are putting capricious end to the promising future, safe conduct and healthy development of their most precious possession. Their brain.
While kids probably already have good anti-viral protection for their laptops and smartphones my concern here is that they also should have equal protection for their greatest gadget of all. Their own personal necktop computer.
These days you need not just protection for your gadgets but you also need personal protection against infection from malware in your necktop computer. Protection from fake news and fake truths.
Develop the protective habit of asking (and getting a good answer to) the question: IS IT TRUE?
It’s like a condom for your brain.
What is true?
true 1. in accordance with fact or reality. 2. genuine; not spurious or counterfeit.
– Oxford English Dictionary
Offline or online, the world is a wide web of truths. It’s a shopping mall. A huge marketplace of all kinds of truths. Little truths. Big truths. There are many, many truths. Millions of them. These truths live in brains and are, literally, hopping about from brain to brain via smartphones all day long, 24/7. Yes, 365.
There are all kinds of truths that want to live in your brain. Some are true and some are untrue. There are acquired truths. There are real truths. There are new truths and old truths. Unscientific and scientific. Low-probability and high-probability. Dormant and dominant. Lazy and busy. Simple truths. Complex. Vicious and virtuous truths. Dumb. Clever. Logical and lateral. Popular truths and secret ones. Fast truths and slow truths. There are convenient truths and inconvenient truths. etc. etc.
I’ve repeated the OED definition of true again at the head of this chapter because we can divide all these truths into two general categories: fake and real.
To paraphrase the OED, fake truths are spurious and counterfeit. Real truths accord with fact and reality.
There are hives of truths, megahives, There are places that host replicating truths. For example Facebook and Wikipedia and Weibo. Here there are millions of truths buzzing about from brain to brain on second-by-second
transactions at the speed of light across the wired world. Some truths are better at replicating than others. Some win. Some lose.
Remember, truths always need homes to live in and these homes are human brains. The most successful truths are the ones that are good at acquiring brains. They spread, virally, from brain to brain across the web.
Other truths are less successful and some may not even survive. This is the darwinian fate of truths. Replicate or die!
Now. This is the thing. Get ready for may what come as a big shock. Because the cognitive consequences of this next insight are huuuuuuuge!
The most successful truths are not always the real truths!
Fake truths often spread faster than real truths. Counterfeit memes are often more popular than facts. Convenient truths may acquire many more brains than inconvenient truths.
So, from now on, we may need to divide all the truths in the world into two general categories: fake and real.
- Real truths are those truths that are supported by facts and most accord with reality. They have the balance of evidence on their side.
- Fake truths are those that are simply good at getting replicated into your brain but are not real truths at all.