Archive for the ‘creativity’ Category

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Some mental abilities increase as we age

May 30, 2009

According to a Wall Street Journal article, “The Upside of Aging,” our mental abilities keep growing as we age.

American culture celebrates youth and many human abilities that decline with age. But contrary to prevalent beliefs, some mental functions actually increase in some areas while decreasing in others.

The aging brain is subject to a dreary litany of changes. It shrinks, Swiss cheese-like holes grow, connections between neurons become sparser, blood flow and oxygen supply fall. That leads to trouble with short-term memory and rapidly switching attention, among other problems. And that’s in a healthy brain.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. An emerging body of research shows that a surprising array of mental functions hold up well into old age, while others actually get better. Vocabulary improves, as do other verbal abilities such as facility with synonyms and antonyms. Older brains are packed with more so-called …

Speed of response times and reflexes decrease, according to the Journal article. But wisdom–a previously unquantifiable set of abilities–increases, says new research.

That’s because we develop “action templates” for experiences that we can apply to similar experiences. Younger minds don’t have enough experiences to develop templates as seasoned as those of older people.

These templates may be the foundations of what we call wisdom.

Sharp Brains, a website devoted to mental improvement, notes:

In our “Exercising Our Brains” Classes, we typically explain how some areas typically improve as we age, such as self-regulation, emotional functioning and Wisdom (which means moving from Problem solving to Pattern recognition), whereas other typically decline: effortful problem-solving for novel situations, processing speed, memory, attention and mental imagery.

Of course, this runs against my own experience: I knew far more at age 16 than I’ll ever know again. I certainly knew more than anybody else then.

But maybe my memory is just slipping…and I’ve merely forgotten most of it?

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Why blog?

July 22, 2008

Benefits of blogging

Blogging helps writers in many ways. These include:

  • igniting creativity
  • capturing ideas
  • good writing practice
  • promoting your product or service
  • improving your health

Blog posts can be anything you like

I love to blog. But so many of life’s necessities and projects vacuum time away from other fun stuff–and that includes blogging.

There’s a way to do it, though, that won’t turn your blogging into a full-time job. With a blog, you don’t have to fit every item into a preset format like you would with another kind of article, news item, think piece or essay.

Certainly it’s helpful to your target audience when you stick to a specific topic. But within that topic, you have almost free reign.

This is both heaven and hell for a writer. On the negative side, you could become a gushing Word Monster with overly long posts. The constraints of publication guidelines often demand cuts in content that you may not like, but which improve the writing. Discipline streamlines the work.

On the other hand, freedom can invigorate you. Writing exactly what you want to write is the editorial equivalent of soaking in a steaming bath.

Blogs can be notepads, forums, magazines–or whatever

Try this: If you have just a thought or two, use a blog as a notepad for an outline–or just to throw it out on the random winds of the Internet.

Opening your ideas to review by others can spur creativity in unpredictable ways.  Comments can help you flesh out the idea–or spin it in a completely new and fascinating direction.

One thing I like about creating is the lack of predictability. It usually produces meaning and joy in directions you could never have foreseen.

If you don’t have much time, just toss up short items as they strike you. I do that with rough drafts on my Google Notebooks, and sometimes quick posts. (I always want to perfect and flesh them out, though!)

Why blog more often?

Many bloggers do it to reach a wider audience. It’s worth noting that Google ranks blogs higher that have 2-4 new posts/week, as well as those with subheadings, lists and bullets, and links to other websites and blogs. Blogging helps people find your site, using what’s known in marketing as search engine optimization, or SEO.

Google offers a more detailed explanation here.

The short version: Google’s algorithms place high value on the connectivity of the Internet, assuming that the more sites you link to, the better the chance that you’ll be found–and apparently, the more you deserve to be found. Adam Lotz at ROI Media explains the basics well, and notes a few wrinkles and turns that affect the process. The better the site ranking on Google and other measures, the higher your site will rank and more easily be found via Internet searches.

The bottom-line value: your blog or site ranks higher in searches for terms included in the post. And the higher your blog ranks, the easier it is for searchers to find your site, and for you to market your ideas, products or services. So you get more attention, and if you’re doing the right things, more sales.

Blogging also offers health benefits that you may not be aware of. More and more research on creativity and health, including studies at the Harvard Medical School and some published in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that people who pursue a creative hobby or work live longer and healthier lives than those who don’t. Such hobbies can include writing, knitting, music, playing board games and even sharing stories with friends–just talking about yours and others’ lives!

So if you like blogging, just do it. And appreciate that, unlike most other writing outlets, it’s whatever you want it to be.

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What is creativity, and how can you tap into it?

June 26, 2008

A hip pocket definition: creativity is putting two things together that you haven’t put together before 

How about garlic mustard ice cream? Not the tastiest snack in the world—at least, to Americans—but the idea might make a kid laugh! That’s an example of creativity. In the world of snacks, this idea may be useless or counterproductive.

But in the world of children’s entertainment, putting two polar opposite foods together is fun and may turn out to be profitable for someone, someday.  Try lemon ice silicone spray. Or pillbugs soaked in perfume, rinsed in a rusty bucket and coated with chicken soup glaze. Eeewwww….but that’s the point.

One of the best explanations of creative thinking I’ve ever read:

Introduction to Creative Thinking by Robert Harris. Read it to find out how creativity = an ability + an attitude + a process.

 

Business needs creativity

One of the most vital needs in business, in nonprofits and in education is creativity. Reports in the New York Times, business publications and books all speak about the need to help everyone learn to tap their creative potential.

 

 Resources on the need for creativity

 Click for 21st century creativity and innovation skills resources.

 Click for 21st century communication and collaboration resources.

 Click for critical thinking and creativity resources, on Bloom’s taxonomy:  

Benjamin Bloom (1956) developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior in learning. This taxonomy contained three overlapping domains: the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective. Within the cognitive domain, he identified six levels: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. These domains and levels are still useful today as you develop the critical thinking skills of your students.                                         #                  #                  # 

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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Your present and your future are innovation, communication and creativity.

April 3, 2008

Have you ever wondered what kind of world we would live in without innovation, communication or creativity?

There could be no such world. Nature itself relies on all three. They are integral to its being, and form the basis of evolution.

And they are integral to human society.

As Neitzche says, “Kindness is the golden chain that binds society.” Indeed, without pervasive cooperation and respect, we would not have evolved communities.  Interdependence is a defining characteristic of any community. So communication and innovation rely on kindness to glue society together.

Communication is the oil that lubricates societal movement, growth, destruction and change. Creativity is the fuel.

 And innovation is the leapfrogging of progress that relies on the two former processes, an ever-changing combination of forces that swirl in a maelstrom of natural patterns, governed by nature’s laws. The combination of repeated patterns and unique inputs to those patterns create and guarantee the unique quality of every moment.

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