Change the way you think

Last weekend as I was reading the Sunday paper I came across this brilliant and funny article by Richard Glover. In it, Richard conducts a simple thought experiment. He asks us to imagine what we would think of inventions if they occurred in reverse order. For instance, how would we feel about landlines, if they were invented after the mobile phone? What if 2D movies were invented after 3D movies?

Richard imagines the following scenario:


Imagine we only had 3D films — a format so expensive that only
mainstream movies can ever be made, with seen-it-all-before plots and
action themes. Even worse, everyone has to wear those Buddy Holly
glasses that get all sweaty and itchy after about five minutes.

Then, voila, someone develops 2D movies. Suddenly films
can be made for a fraction of cost; there’s a flowering of smaller, more
eclectic films. Ticket prices drop. Even better, it’s suddenly possible
to kiss and make out in the back row of the cinema without your glasses
getting tangled.

Oh, thank you 2D. What a revolution in filmmaking and
viewing. What progress.

I find this blog amazingly insightful for two reasons. Firstly it highlights our natural tendency to assume that ‘new’ means ‘new and improved.’ Once a new product appears on the market we tend to ignore its shortcomings and get swept up in the excitement that comes with embracing a new product.

Secondly it highlights how simply considering things from a different angle can make the mundane and commonplace seem suddenly exciting and new. Who would have thought that AM radio could be made to seem more advanced than podcasting? Or that a landline could be considered an amazing technological leap?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathon.mascorella Jonathon Mascorella

    The concept that something is “new and improved” is what consumerism thrives on, and unfortunately is the cornerstone of everything we buy. Even mobile phones are caught up in that hype, where a new version with minor upgrades is seen as evolutionary, even though it is not. I see this often in education, where we change the name, but the basics stay the same. We believe the “product” is “new and improved” but unfortunately it is not.

    We need to focus on how we can improve something, not make it new. A new school might tick all the boxes visually, and even simple things like changing terminology might make it look new, but it does not change the fact that pedagogy (teaching style) stays the same, assessments are still factored on the same values of 50 years ago, and students are still “educated”, rather than taught to learn.

    Interesting comments, and an insightful critique.

  • Isaacpv

    Real innovation and creativity prbably doesnot come from thinking. It comes from “non-thinking”. You are most creative when your mind is still. Still, not empty. Its the stillness of the mind that facilitates all creative ideas and concepts.

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