Thursday, 23 October 2014

Asimov on creativity

The MIT Technology Review has published an essay titled "On Creativity" that was written by famous scientist and author Isaac Asimov, who died in 1992.  The essay was written in 1959, when Asimov was considering joining an MIT project looking for the most creative approaches possible for a ballistic missile defense system. Asimov never joined the project, and the essay was unpublished until now; but  its contents are as broadly relevant today as when he wrote it. It describes not only the creative process and the nature of creative people but also the kind of environment that promotes creativity.
Asimov says  "It is only afterward that a new idea seems reasonable. To begin with, it usually seems unreasonable...Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits. (To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself.)" He also suggests working in groups, "For best purposes, there should be a feeling of informality. Joviality, the use of first names, joking, relaxed kidding are, I think, of the essence—not in themselves, but because they encourage a willingness to be involved in the folly of creativeness. For this purpose I think a meeting in someone’s home or over a dinner table at some restaurant is perhaps more useful than one in a conference room." 

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