Failing vs. Perfecting

“This is why it is just as useful to look at the sparks that failed, the ideas that found their way to a promising region of the adjacent possible but somehow collapsed there” (Johnson, 72).

I can see this as true because most of the time the people who failed were the first ones that acted upon their ideas. This in turn made others try the idea, which helped produce someone who actually succeeded on the idea. It is because the people that succeeded on a specific idea were only able to do it because they knew which path was already a failure, and which path was never tried yet. This had people creating so many ideas just to see if one of their ideas actually was the better one. Ultimately, all these people, failures and perfecters, actually helped produce ideas from generation to generation. That is something that is so important because if these people never acted on their ideas, who knows if we would be able to make helpful advances for our everyday life.

Failing vs. Perfecting

The Slow Hunch

These teachers understand that science is not a field that delivers quick answers, and through this project, they arm students with both the practical skills and the intellectual patience to quiet their minds and reject quick conclusions until all the evidence is in.  – Jessica Lahey, Relearning the Lost Skill of Patience

This article in The Atlantic reminded me of the slow hunch. The idea that there ins importance in slowing down and engaging in deep, critical thinking, which is very much needed to make those crucial connections. The beauty of this is that it is applicable to many fields not just science. Hopefully, students are making meaningful connections in this course too!

The Slow Hunch

What you learn in History

You can learn a great deal about the history of innovation by examining great ideas that changed the world. – Johnson page 72

As said in a previous post, we can learn a lot from the ideas that have risen before. We learn from the mistakes and the achievements others have made in the past. This way we can learn what works in our society and what does not. Most great ideas are those that have a large impact in the world. It is important that we take into account that in order for us to know this, we have to have access to the ideas that were brought up before. This could lead to something good or bad depending on how people take it. I believe however, that ideas are to be shared and discussed so we know if it something better left untouched. 201500008425

What you learn in History

Sustaining the Slow Hunch

“Sustaining the slow hunch is less a matter of perspiration than of cultivation. You give the hunch enough nourishment to keep it growing, and plant it in fertile soil, where its roots can make new connections. And then you give it time to bloom.” – Johnson, p78

This quote stuck out to me because I liked the visual it provided of the slow hunch. Johnson talked a lot about the slow hunch and how great ideas usually take time to develop, but after reading this particular passage I was really able to visualize exactly what Johnson was talking about. I especially like the statement, “where its roots can make new connections,” since Johnson really tries to emphasize throughout this chapter that hunches will stay hunches if they do not connect with other peoples ideas. By picturing the slow hunch as a plant, I can see how the plant must be given time in order for its roots to grow and connect with other plants.

Sustaining the Slow Hunch

Google

Google famously instutiuted a ’20 percent time’ program for all Google engineers: for every four hours they spend working on official company projects, the engineers are required to spend one hour on their own pet project, guided entirely by their own passions and instincts.

Google’s attempt to keep it’s engineers’ minds keen is very innovative. Typically, big companies attempt to keep their engineer or their workers’ minds completely on the company projects because this seems to be the most productive and efficient use of time. However, I admire Google for trying to inspire and push their workers to explore their hunches and to expand their own knowledge.

Google

Slow Hunch app

I did a quick Google search of “slow hunch” and found that someone actually created a web app called SlowHunch inspired by the chapter Slow Hunch in Johnson’s book.

http://slowhunch.com/

“The goal is simple: Provide an open environment where ideas can connect and grow…Users can now log in, create hunches, add tags and post comments. This allows us to develop the site further. In other words, the site will unfold from itself.”

Basically, anyone can create an account on this website and write a ‘hunch’ that will be added to the growing pool of other hunches, and people can add to or comment on other’s hunches. The idea is that the site will just keep growing as more people’s ideas are connected together.

Slow Hunch app

Slow Hunch

“… no attempt to collapse the evolution of his marvellous idea into a single epiphany. The Web came into being as an archetypal slow hunch” (Johnson 89)

I like how Tim Berners-Lee was able to have so many epiphanies that eventually led up to the creation of the Internet. He had the ultimate goal of the World Wide Web, but he followed the adjacent possible and was able to discover the steps leading up to the Internet (thus, several epiphanies known as the slow hunch.)

Slow Hunch

Write Every Hunch Down

“So part of the secret of hunch cultivation is simple: write everything down.” (Johnson, p83)

Often times we lose track of our hunches and even forget them. Hunches are like a seed, they need to be planted, tended to, and harvested. We need to write our hunches down so that we do not lose them and kill them before they even had a chance to grow. This reminds me of keeping a journal. If you want to remember special occasions for instance, you could keep a journal of all the special occasions of which you have celebrated. Once written down, years could go by and you would still be able to remember those occasions. We make the biggest connection of writing down hunches when we think of Darwin. He kept a log of all of his evolutionary discoveries. We know what we do about evolution today because of his hunches.

 

Write Every Hunch Down

Darwin vs. Einstein

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“In the months before the Malthus reading, we could probably say that Darwin had the idea of natural selection in his head, but at the same time was incapable of fulling thinking it. This is how slow hunches often mature: by stealth, in small steps. They fade into view. “-Johnson, p81

Found this cool quote from Albert Einstein. Einstein explains how he got to the theory of relativity. This provides another example of how great ideas come from hunches growing over time. Einstein says ” Actually, I was led to it by steps arising from the individual laws derived from experience.” Einstein’s discovery can be comparable to Charles Darwin’s discovery of evolution. It shows the some great ideas come with time in a series of steps.

Darwin vs. Einstein

Write It Down

“Most slow hunches never last long enough to turn into something useful, because they pass in and out of our memory too quickly, precisely because they possess a certain murkiness. You get a feeling that there’s an interesting avenue to explore, a problem that might someday lead you to a solution, but then you get distracted by more pressing matters and the hunch disappears. So part of the secret of hunch cultivation is simple: write everything down.” -Johnson, page 83

This quote stood out to me because it reminded me of a previous post I made regarding Where Good Ideas Come From, when Johnson was talking about how the key to having good ideas is to get more parts on the table. And I connected that to how I usually go about solving writer’s block, by simply writing as much as I can. Because the more material I get onto the page, the more I have to work with and the more likely it is I’ll stumble across something or a few things that I can put together and use for a story. I definitely agree that writing everything down is incredibly important; it’s hard for a fragment of an idea to become anything more if it stays inside your head. Regarding writing, maybe a line or phrase will pop into my head, and I don’t know where it might fit into what I’m writing, if at all. But if I write it down, I can look back at it later. Maybe I’ll have written something else by that point that can work with the fragment I wrote down before. And it’s not very smart to assume that you’ll remember all the pieces of good ideas you’ve had; it’s better to write something down and have it go unused than forget it.

Write It Down

Completing Ideas

“Liquid networks create an environment where those partial ideas can connect; they provide a kind of dating service for promising hunches. They make it easier to disseminate good ideas, of course, but they also do something more sublime: they help complete ideas” (Johnson, 75).

    I found this quote very insightful. I never really thought of liquid networks in this sense, but I understand where Johnson is coming from. Not all good ideas are created in one swift motion. Often, they require outside knowledge to be complete. I think we can all relate to this on the educational level. We have all been apart of group work before whether we enjoyed it or not. I would consider group work to be a type of liquid network.  When working with a group of students, coming up with good ideas is more efficient since there are more minds working together. Ideas and “hunches” are able to be bounced off of one another. By the end of the work/project, such idea and “hunches” finally come to together.

We recently discussed different types of learning environments in my Media Ethics class. My professor proposed the idea that the act of working alone allows the mind to wander. She explained how research indicates that our spontaneously technological lives are dampening our creativity. My professor would most likely argue against the quote above. She believes that working alone allows for the greatest ideas to truly develop, and that other people, and even technology, are nothing but distractions.

Completing Ideas

9/11 Attack

When the 9/11 attack on the US happened, I was still young and I don’t remember much of that day other than our schools sending us all home. The analogy that Johnson uses in chapter 3 is the fact that one man, Williams, had a hunch that the terrorist group sent people to join the academy to learn how to fly plains. It was disappointing to read that a man apart of our government had an hunch that this was happening and his memo to check on it got pushed aside. Its also disappointing to read that the government still uses the same system as they did in 2001. It is also frustrating to see how many people this information has to be passed through in order to be put into action as well. This chapter was pretty enlightening because I truly didn’t know much about it or how the hijackers actually became successful in the destruction they caused. However, it seems as though it could of been prevented if our government had a better way of passing on important information.

9/11 Attack

Liquid Network vs. World Wide Web

“The Web arose as the answer to an open challenge, through the swirling together of influences, ideas, and realizations from many sides, until, by the wondrous offices of the human mind, a new concept jelled. It was a process of accretion, not the linear solving of one problem after another” – Berners-Lee (Johnson 90)

The formal definition of accretion is: “The process of growth or increase, typically by the gradual accumulation of additional layers or matter.” I think this quote from Tim Berners-Lee- the creator of the World Wide Web- outlines Johnson’s liquid network idea perfectly, as well as gives a concrete example. The web as a creation of Berners-Lee did not form from some ingenious spark or eureka moment in his mind. Rather, his idea started from the time he was a child and developed throughout his life, finally culminating from his environment and influences. Johnson argues for something similar in his liquid network. He says that great ideas, even though we tend to think they are some spark of intuition, come from different layers adding up, or different doors opening. Many doors must be opened, as different doors lead to even more different doors. There is never “one” door that leads to innovation. In Berners-Lee’s case, it was a process of opening many doors, while still remembering, connecting, and building upon what was seen through other doors..

Liquid Network vs. World Wide Web

The Slow Hunch

After reading Chapter 3, “The Slow Hunch” in Where Good Ideas Came From I found many of the ideas presented by Johnson very insightful. I thought it was really interesting how everything discussed related back to using others’ ideas, networks, connections, and the adjacent possible. Essentially, everything builds on one another and while individuals can have hunches, those hunches aren’t relevant until they are combined with the thoughts of others. Johnson states,

“Most great ideas first take shape in the in a partial, incomplete form. They have the seeds of something profound, but they lack a key element that can turn the hunch into something truly powerful” (p75).

Johnson is suggesting that hunches while they can be good need to be nurtured by connections and thoughts of other people. The missing piece becomes complete when it is combined with a similar hunch that another individual has. In essence, complete ideas come about through the connections and networks made from a slow hunch instead of one lone idea trying to be proven. In the example of predicting the 9/11, that slow hunch was not complete because it was not built upon by other hunches or other individuals. Thus, this chapter is very important because it emphasizes the role of networks, connections, and the adjacent possible in making a hunch into a complete idea – everything is related and relevant to one another.

I also thought these ideas were really interesting because they related to the reason why we believe in evolution and natural selection. Darwin observed and made hunches, but until those ideas were coupled with other observations and predictions, they were not complete. In understanding evolution and even the scientific method, it is important to understand the role of hunches and ideas that were made to make theories and ideas real. As I learned in my Evolution course, Darwin kept a journal of everything he saw and observed while on his trip to the Galapagos. These ideas and hunches contributed to his theories once he made connections and networks between them.

The Slow Hunch

Cold Cases Reheated

In “The Slow Hunch,” Johnson explains how ideas at every step of development are important. While most of the chapter focuses on the beginning of an idea, the “hunch”, Johnson mentions that it is also important to revisit ideas that could not get out of the development stage. He writes, “But those intrinsic causes can easily overshadow the environmental role in the creation and spread of those ideas. This is why it is just as useful to look at the sparks that failed, the ideas that found their way to a promising region of the adjacent possible but somehow collapsed there.” (Johnson, 72)

Immediately this reminded me of the television series Cold Case. In this show, the main character is a Philadelphia detective that reopens unsolved homicide cases in an attempt to finally solve them. As she revisited these cases, she was able to find new evidence and clues that led her to solving the murder.

With new technology, a fresh eye, and her own hunches, she was able to reignite “the sparks” of past detectives “that failed”.

This proves why ideas at every stage of development are valuable. While hunches may need more encouragement, the “failed sparks” also need maintenance.

 

Cold Cases Reheated