attending to the shadow of living and learning on the web



Show, don’t tell!

It seems I have spent my life talking about stuff. My job as a research psychologist and academic was about finding out and writing about it. It strikes me that since choosing to end my full time academic career in 2010 I have entered a different stage in my development. This post is about that; reflecting on the obvious, that becomes obvious only when we are part way down the new road. I have been reminded of a favourite book by Arthur Koestler, ‘The act of creation’. In Koestler’s bisociation theory of creativity the link with analogy is a central focus. All creative activity is viewed as a kind of analogy-formation. He uses the image of a triptych to explore creative domains.

“The three panels of the rounded triptych … indicate three domains of creativity which shade into each other without sharp boundaries: Humour, Discovery, and Art… Each horizontal line across the triptych stands for a pattern of creative activity which is represented on all three panels; … The first is intended to make us laugh; the second to make us understand; the third to make us marvel.” (Koestler, The Act of Creation, p. 27).

The Koestler creativity triptych
The Koestler creativity triptych

The first he calls the Jester, the second the Sage and the third the Artist.  One can view these as unconscious archetypes in the creative process. The sage searches for the ‘ah-ha!’ moment in the world. The jester searches for incongruence or the ‘Ha-Ha!’ moments. The artist searches for that moment when something feels just right, that ‘ah-hh!’ moment.

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Purposeful Tinkerings

‘ [Web 2.0 tools offer] a new user-centric information infrastructure that emphasizes participation [ ] over presentation, that encourages focused conversation [ ] rather than traditional publication, and that facilitates innovative explorations, experimentations, and purposeful tinkerings that often form the basis of a situated understanding emerging from action, not passivity.’ John Seely Brown

In this post I begin to unpack what innovation means to me in the context of learning; I need to develop a personal working definition of innovation for my  Online Education course. I have spent a lifetime teaching people about the creative process and looking at innovation as the output of the psychology of creativity. From a traditional academic perspective I could write  and have written a great deal about creativity and innovation. The theories, the practice and application have accompanied me throughout my career. This latest assignment is asking for a working definition that will enable me to evaluate if a particular technological achievement can be called an innovation. It asks less for a theoretical endeavour and more for an exploration situated in my context of operation.

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