Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Creativity Is Fun

I don’t get a lot of free time, and that’s the way I like it. For me it’s never been about work-life balance, but always about work-life integration. Finding compelling and compatible work to who I am and who I want to continue being, and devoting everything I have to performing at peak, getting into flow.

In these new straightened economic times, we’re all having to work harder, knuckling down to the task at hand, and making sure we’re building a future that is sustaining and rewarding. It’s not easy. But it’s easier if you love what you’re doing, and you’re doing it all the time. Naysayers will say nay, but its actually easier than ever to devote yourself to what sustains you. All you need is a computer, and the desire to make a difference.

Probably nowhere in the world is this more clear than in my home of New York City, where once again, creativity is biting back and inspiring people to throw everything they have at their situation. I don’t know if the people who run the blog do anything else with their day, but something tells me everything they do has to be fun. At least they have enough time to bring us the graph above.

Which is fun, and will get you arguing about rock music, Rolling Stone, or crude oil. Their blog is classic pop-culture with a semi-serious spin. It’s fun for the readers, but what fun is it for the bloggers themselves? These people have created their world and devoted their time for their own enjoyment. It just so happens we love it too.

Our only way to make the long road ahead through our economic crisis run faster is to enjoy ourselves, to be creative in everything we do, and integrate work and life. Start today with something simple. Eliminate the reasons not to, apply yourself wholeheartedly, make sure you’re smiling, and enjoy the (bumpy) ride.


Ian Sanders said...

I've seen a lot of advice about what it takes to survive in this increasingly scrambled up world that we live and work in, where no-one knows what's around the corner and what the next day, meeting, email, technological innovation or chance encounter may bring. Of course, there is no prescriptive route to success and survival but your mantra of: enjoy ourselves, be creative in everything we do, and integrate work and life really resonates with me.

Elle Fagan said...

Yes. "Integrating work and life" caught me, too! Thank you!

There cannot possibly be too many articles urging creative ways to save the day in potentially very destructive times. More! More!

"More" because we yield to the negative, when inundated by grand and negative pressures.

For example, during the recession and upsurge of terrorism in the 80s , somehow it began - calling "children" "kids" , not just at fun and fitness times, but even the classroom, when we were taught that use of the "kids" in such a general way was certainly an insult.

And then there began the use of "that" when referring to people - People are "who" - things are "that"
But it began to be heard and read in even expert media, "...the man THAT..." instead of "the man WHO wrote the article...etc."

The effect of such degeneration is insidious and REAL.

It means that we lost some lights there. It means that something that loves life and aims for it was damaged badly and limping.

Creativity, whether in the light or more serious applications wins back the lost ground in our wholeness and love of life - it is THE thing that feeds it all in the right way.

Today we sag under the triple burdens of a long-term war, a devastating virus, and a battered economy - more danger of profound undermining of the very will to live.

And, for some reason, we think it will go away.

We can end a war, conquer a virus, and restore the economy, but if we think we are not depleted and degenerated by such mighty forces, we need to think again.

It is Creativity that restores our inner lights, and the very best will to make an integrated life, with integrity and power to pass on to the future.

Thank you, again for your easy-to-digest notes on Creativity and life.

observant said...

A Future Project?

Thank you for pointing out this interesting article. I would like to focus on the time span aspect of this graph (leading to a possible negative correlation) as a means to amplify the various impact of technology on creative development and to suggest the seeds of a future project.

First commercial oil in US was produced, in fact, from The Drake well, PA, in 1859 (Wikipedia, "W"). If we recalculate the timeline based on this information, we find that the peak time in US oil production (excl. Alaska) was around 80% into the cycle whereas this peak was about 30% for the greatest of all time music as perceived by RS survey judges. This phenomenon is in no less part due to technological innovation that has enabled unconventional field discoveries and more efficient exploration, driven by significant global demand growth and ensuing higher returns. Hence, advancement of technology has been able to push out oil production peaks. Why can’t we make a similar extrapolation in music? Why not define the domain of greatest music to include all styles in all languages in all times?

Csikszentmihalyi suggests creativity in a domain, such as music, occurs when a novelty, say a new pattern, a song, is selected by gatekeepers (experts, critics, funders) for inclusion in that domain. In this case, the gatekeepers happen to be judges of the survey (”172 musicians, critics, and music industry figures” W) who seek to define the domain of music in a certain way, equating greatest music of all time to mostly the rock and roll of the late 20th century. One of the major motivations behind such an approach may be to counter, ironically, what technology has accomplished for music in the past few decades by lowering the entry barriers. Technology has made music much more accessible and inexpensive to masses, enabled them to vote their opinion, improved their creative talent and expertise, and promoted this talent to express novelties, without established gatekeepers, through the internet and the digital revolution. In early 21st century, the old gatekeepers, through surveys such as the RS, may be trying hard to swim against this tsunami and to differentiate their product against this incredible influx of new independent talent and judges. As such, we may be observing cultural (only 1 non-English song out of 500, W), incumbent, and selection (many songs in the survey are from the namesake of the survey) biases to preserve old gatekeepers’ economic interests and to promote their value in a world where technology is rapidly marginalizing old novelties and is reshaping the definition of gatekeeper. The result seems to be the early artificial peaking observed in the music component of the graph...Therefore, it is plausible that similar economic forces that are pushing out the oil curve peak may be trying to flap back the music curve peak, via the application of technology such as promotion of biased surveys on the internet to increase cognitive or emotive barriers to entry.

To rectify some of these issues, why not use technology and hold a worldwide survey by an independent source, perhaps through the internet, and actually vote for “The most loved songs of all songs ever created” a la BBC in late 90s? Or why not have an annual, Eurovision style, fun “Global Song Contest” voted by the public of each participating country or a “Music Olympics” to encourage new creative talent and to promote world harmony at the same time?

The result of such endeavors, maybe based on the “Voices” of a future United Nations development and marketing project, may excite music experts, critics and producers to refocus their attention on the more diverse music values of the global society and to tap new sources of creativity. More importantly, just as it may be the case with the search for new viable sources of energy, such an approach may inspire every world citizen to become a music fan, extending and smoothing the peaks of musical creativity, “dancing with Wordsworth’s daffodils” for a very long time. It can make a difference.