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TED

June 28, 2009
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Does anyone else watch TED talks? I’ve determined they’re the perfect form of entertainment during lunch when no one else is in the office. I feel smarter after watching them.

TED is an organization that hosts conferences based on the premise that there are brilliant people out there with “ideas worth spreading” (no, I have yet to be invited, thanks for asking). All of the talks are made available on the TED website.

I watched 20-minute this talk by Ken Robinson on Friday, and I really enjoyed this guy’s take on education. He describes how the educational institution unwittingly teaches students not to be creative. He’s funny and eloquent and British.

What he doesn’t go into is how to re-learn creativity after we’ve been sucked dry after so many years. I consider myself a creative person, but that creativity is often overwhelmed by practicality. To some extent, this is necessary. For example, say I have a great idea for a movie I want to shoot. I may be excited about the idea, but my instant reaction is that doing so isn’t practical. I don’t have the time for such an endeavor, and the video won’t be worth anything afterwords. I’d be better off writing a script and trying to sell that.

Such filters prevent us from a lot of time, but I think they also limit our creative energy. How do we get that back? My suggestion would be to do something creative once a day for about 15 minutes that has no chance of being profitable. I’m not talking about doing something that you don’t think will be profitable–I’m saying that you should choose something that has zero chance of making any money.

Something like playing with blocks. Or making your own origami with no instructions. Or making a paper airplane.

Yes, all of those things are a waste of adult time. Nothing can possibly come of them. No chance. But I wonder if we started doing things like that for 10-15 minutes a day, if those creative parts of our brain that we’ve locked away since we started studying for the SATs (or way before) will start to come out to play again in the parts of our life that do have meaning.

If I ever start a company in which I have on-site employees (TypeTribe is just me), I’m going to try to do something like this. Every day at a certain time, we’ll gather in a room and do something completely creative and completely unproductive. And then we’ll take that creative energy back to our desks and make create something beautiful.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Joe S permalink
    June 29, 2009 10:58 am

    Indeed I do, although not regularly, just whenever I find a one I want to watch. I usually prefer to stick to people I’ve already heard of but have found a few random ones which I love.

    When are you going to give your TED talk?

  2. June 29, 2009 2:10 pm

    Do you remember which are the ones you’ve really enjoyed?

    I need to think of a great idea for a TED talk. First I need to become successful and famous. They I could literally talk about anything and people will listen (see: Bono).

  3. Joe S permalink
    June 30, 2009 12:43 pm

    There was one by a writer on writing….. I know thats so specific. I forget who. It was a woman and I think it was sometime last year. One of these days I’ll go thru the TED archives and find it.

    • annemarie permalink
      July 1, 2009 12:16 am

      I think you mean Elizabeth Gilbert who spoke about creativity and the idea of genius: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html

      jamey-
      I watch a ton of ted. I think Rachel sent you my top recommendations, but let me know if you want more suggestions.
      I just finished reading Ken Robinson’s most recent book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. Much of the idea is along the lines of the story in his talk about the young dancer. Reading your post, I was struck by the idea of productivity. To really change our concept of (adult) creativity, we need to change how we talk about it. We need to identify and then actually value the products of creative work, tangible and intangible. We need creative expression to be considered an important use of time. We need to count joy as a worthy product.
      I’m really good at blocks if you want to play sometime.

      • July 1, 2009 4:34 pm

        Sorry, I misread this the first time. I listened to Ken Robinson’s talk, but I’ll have to check out Gilbert’s talk as well.

        Also, I really like the line about counting joy as a product.

  4. Bryce permalink
    July 2, 2009 9:12 am

    That’s cool Jamey! How did you hear about TED???

  5. July 2, 2009 9:18 am

    A friend named Rachel told me about it. Have you heard of it?

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