Creativity 101: mashups

February 4, 2007

Creativity is about generating a bunch of ideas and culling them down to the best one. We’ve already talked about Variations on a Theme (taking a tool that works for one field and modifying it to a new context) as a great way to be creative in science.

A second promising tool is the Mashup–applying, seemingly disparate elements from two contexts to create something new that at the same time reveals a central commonality. Mashups in music and video have exploded over the past few years as a new way to create art (e.g., Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album, combining vocals from rapper Jay-Z’s The Black Album with instrumentals from the Beatle’s The White Album). One reason for this emergence is the availability of software that allows anybody to sample and recombine video or music to create something new (an ability put at risk by our insane copyright laws).

Question of the Day: How would one use mashups in science? Is multivaratiate analyses and datafishing, er, data exploration using the same principles as a mashup?

Discuss amongst yerselves.

h/t BoingBoing

Note added in Proof: there’s another Trek/Python mashup here.

5 steps to capturing and storing your ideas

February 4, 2007

5 parts to an academics system for capturing and storing ideas

An an academic, you need a system to effectively capture and curate your ideas. Such systems are infinitely flexible–part of the fun is playing around with different components until you find a set that fits you. That said, I suspect that the following components are pretty much universal in any such system:

you need a means of capturing an idea anywhere,

you need centralized, temporary storage,

you need an arena for right-brain and left-brain play,

you need long-term storage.

We’ll spend time over the next couple of weeks examining each of these in more detail; consider this the opening chapter.

OK, here’s my system in, of course, 5 parts: Read the rest of this entry »


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