How 'creativity sprints' can get your creative brain going
Need to kick-start your creativity? This technique can really help.
Ryder Carroll: So I think that curiosity is a highly undervalued phenomenon if you will because you can't really always explain it. Sure there are some base things that we're curious about. We're curious about eating. We're curious around other people. But sometimes we're curious about things that we just can't explain to ourselves. And that's something that we shouldn't underestimate because that is a force that draws us into the world unlike any other. You can't fake curiosity. If you're curious about something you're curious about it and that's it and it doesn't require any more explanation. But I do think that it requires significantly more investigation. So if you're curious about a subject matter or a project or a problem in the world or something like that I think it's our responsibility to figure out how we can cultivate that curiosity, right.
In an all or nothing world I feel like a lot of times we immediately set this expectation that we have to become an expert in everything, right. And I think that that sets us up for failure. We have to have a lot of knowledge or no knowledge at all. But our curiosity is simply the needle in our inner compass pointing towards something. And compasses aren't, don't point true north, right. So essentially it's up to us to figure out what that curiosity actually is.
So how do we cultivate our curiosity practically? The best way that I found is through sprints. And sprints are essentially self-contained micro goals. And they're structured to be less than 30 days long, so ideally a week or two. They have no barrier to entry so you don't have to wait for anybody or anything. You can get started today and they have to have a clearly defined set of tasks or actions so you can get started.
These sprints will allow you to cultivate your curiosity because you'll focus on one small aspect of something that could be significantly larger. And then once you're done with that sprint you can take a step back and see what did that spring teach you. What exactly were you curious about. Are you still curious about this or did all of a sudden your curiosity shift. So essentially through sprints you're able to learn very specific goals. A, which is great if you are curious about cooking, for example. Maybe you learn knife skills and in that process you start learning more about cooking. But you still have the knife skills even if you walk away from that project all together.
Sprints are really great because they allow us to try things on for size without wasting a lot of time and energy. And they allow us to build over time on these curiosities. You can take one sprint and then follow it with another sprint and another sprint and those sprints will change depending on what you learn along the way. So that way you can take something very big and seemingly overwhelming and break it down into very actionable steps.
- The best way to become more creative? Exercise your creativity like you would your body.
- Set realistic expectations. Nobody is going to become the best immediately and write an amazing novel, or what have you, in a week.
- Curiosity is the fuel that drives creativity. Pick a big goal and find out every small aspect about it to break it down.
The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the FutureList Price: $26.00New From: $18.42 in StockUsed From: $21.30 in Stock
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- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
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Is this proof of a dramatic shift?
- Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
- Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
- A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses
Dramatic and misleading
Image: Reddit / SICResearch
The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.
Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.
The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.
Let's zoom in:
- It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
- By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
- Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
- In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
- Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
- By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.
Image source: Reddit / SICResearch
This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?
- "The end is near."
- "The idiocracy grows."
- "(It's) like a spreading disease."
- "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
- "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
- "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
- "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
- "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."
Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:
- "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
- "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
- "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
- "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."
"Old people learning to Google"
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)
But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:
- "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
- "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
- "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
- "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."
A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.
The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.
One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.
Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.
It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.
CNN, Fox and MSNBC
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison
For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):
- Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
- MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
- CNN: 706,000 (-9%)
And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
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