Last year I bought a book after listening to a segment from NPR that my dad had sent. In it they interviewed to different authors, Kevin Kelly and Steven Johnson, I ended up getting both books. To my dismay the Kevin Kelly book, What technology wants, was in my opinion painting a technology deterministic world that ultimately was unrealistic and absurd. I stopped reading it and never finished it, which is something I almost never do (I would equate him with Clay Shirky in being overly optimistic about the role of technology).
The second author’s book was significantly better. It’s called Where Good Ideas Come From and it has some really great ways to generate new ideas and how he believes ideas are formed. Below is a short talk of his animated by RSA animation.
The short and simple is that I completely buy his approach to generating new ideas. In his book he discusses using a piece of software (DEVONthink) while doing almost all of his reading . I’ve tired to do this with a similar program in windows called Evernote, but it’s difficult to remember to do it. I feel I need to get better at it. I had a great idea for a blog two days ago, never wrote it down and totally forgot what it was. Helaas pinda kaas (Dutch for “too bad peanut butter”). In some way the book is a big ad for DEVONthink, but that’s not really the important part. The important thing is how these different ideas come together and lead to new and fully formed ideas. A tool like DEVONthink or Evernote (There’s also OneNote as part of MS office) allow you to increase your ability to find things and create new ideas.
I effectively use websites like Reddit, Facebook, Twitter and the books I read in this fashion. Many of my blog posts come about from the different news stories I read to which I put my own spin on them and add additional commentary. Typically by combing ideas from multiple different sources. I love when my friends point me to new sources of information or stories I’d be interested in. One of my blogs, What is the value of a patent, was written because someone sent me the “When Patents attack” story by This American life. I was able to combine the ideas presented in that story with my knowledge of patents that I’ve learned at TU/e to write an interesting blog that’s more than either story.
Yes, my last two blogs have basically be book reviews. However, I figured that as a public service announcement to let people know how I come up with my topics. I think it’s important that other people try to create their own content and share what you know. If you don’t feel comfortable writing, shoot me an idea and let’s see what we can make of it.