It’s only since the last decade or so that science dares to touch upon the workings of the creative process. In his new book, popular science writer Jonah Lehrer shows creativity does not merely belong to the lucky few, but is in fact a variety of processes that everyone can learn to use in a more efficient way.
In ‘Imagine’, Lehrer uses both sexy examples of creativity (the train of thought that preceded Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone) as well as unsexy ones (the invention of Swiffer) to study how cognitive science is connected to creativity.
Most of the creative processes that lead to something brilliant occur, not surprisingly, out of the box. In order to get there, however, we need interaction with the outside world. This is why travel frequently seems to free the imagination and why big cities are often better incubators for innovation than rural areas. The Internet, Lehrer argues, could be used in a much more efficient way as well: “Instead of sharing links with just our friends, or commenting anonymously on blogs, or filtering the world with algorithms to fit our interests, we must engage with strangers and strange ideas,” he writes. “What we need now is a virtual world that brings us together for real.”