Tag Archives: Critical thinking

Does the Internet Inspire Or Stifle Creativity?

Here’s an interesting question, does the internet threaten creativity or nurture it?,

It depends on how you look at it. When we think about the internet, we think of many things: websites, blogs, social networks, social media, etc..

All these components of the internet let us express ourselves in one way or another, connect with people we know, meet strangers, learn from others and create with others. But, while all this is great, the other side of what makes us human also makes it onto the internet.

Really, the internet both inspires and stifles creativity, here’s how…

How the Internet threatens creativity

Creativity, by it’s nature, is about bravery. So, to think creatively is to challenge the status-quo. Great!

One of the common benefits of having access to so much information and people is that we can find answers rather quickly. But this benefit has immediate consequences when we stop paying attention to human nature, for people will congregate around the same ideas on social networks which eventually leads to group-think.

What does that mean?

A few years ago I wrote a piece on how social media is group-think on steroids because it puts critical thinking to sleep. Critical thinking and creativity go hand in hand, but the megaphone that is social media turns people into lambs drinking the same kool-aid; making critical thinking irrelevant.

Where all think alike nobody thinks very much, and thus the status-quo stops being challenged.

See, the internet doesn’t make us more stupid because, in general terms, we’re stupid and shallow to begin with. But it may help some of us to become dumber and more shallow faster and more efficiently.

Simply put, the internet (if we let it) doesn’t eliminate human bias; it amplifies it.

How the Internet nurtures creativity

Not all is gray, for many great things happen because of the internet. I, like others, have used the internet to solve problems by collaborating with people from around the world. These connections came about because of serendipitous exchanges on Twitter and other mediums; the type that fuels innovation.

The advantage of the internet is open communication, so the simple act of sharing a thought on Twitter can become a conversation. Same goes with blogging, it brings like minds together. This is a good example of how the internet nurtures creativity. Beyond my immediate family, I’ve met all the most valuable people that I know through the internet.

My take is that just like innovative businesses understand that group-think is an enemy of innovation and thus create mechanisms to counter it, if we understand how this dynamic applies on the internet, we can counter it.

It’s important that we do because the future of work will be much more digital and collaborative than it is today; I guarantee it.

Bottom line: The Internet has the power to both bring out the best and worst in us. I foresee we’ll be debating whether or not technology make us stupid well into the future, but let’s put it to rest right now: Technology doesn’t make us stupid, it makes us smarter.

People follow people, not frameworks


Leadership (Photo credit: pedrosimoes7)

Social networks and social media have given voice to the voiceless, it’s a beautiful thing. More people can post stuff through the various channels we have at our disposal for the various types of media we can use to communicate. But, counter to what it has enabled us to do it’s also brought less critical thinking.

For example, it isn’t a secret what type of content gets the most traffic and clicks: lists.

You see them everywhere! And it won’t stop. Driving our voracious appetite for lists is our desire for cookie cutter ideas, as well as having more time for ourselves in our hectic lives. The problem with “lists” is that they don’t make the distinction between topics that are more art than “checklist” driven. Most of these lists are dumbed down and create the perception that following a template will yield a predictable outcome.

And most people are not conscious enough to think for themselves, so they mindlessly follow them.

List posts get shared and bookmarked all the time, yet I don’t think people come back to them after that. Mostly they serve the purpose of providing the reader a short-term reward with the feeling that they read something useful during the day.

But did it really move them? I doubt it.

It is this same issue that has powered and given rise to “framework fatigue”.

line illusion

Dare to look where no one does

The title of this post could have easily been titled “dare to go where no one goes” but to “go” you must first observe and then decide. And when I mean look, I literally mean observe. For example, look at the optical illusion below.

Which horizontal line is the shortest? Your eyes will tell you that it is the first one, but they happen to be exactly the same size.

line illusion

Only by really paying attention will you see that both lines are the same size. Call it what you will, but the art of observation is a dying art. Before you can notice, you must observe. And to observe, you must look.

look beyond the obvious

Critical thinking is an inspiration starter, not a hope killer

look beyond the obvious

Why does critical thinking have a bad reputation? Is it because it seeks to uncover the truth? Do people think that the truth is negative? Is it because it is a Hope Killer?

I think that criticism is a form of optimism.

@cloverleafinnov wrote a nice post about how to think like an innovator. One thing they mention is how the ability to criticize is valuable:

Criticize. Creative thinking is critical thinking. The question “How can I improve this experience?” is a very powerful brainteaser. Just think of how many products out there solve problems or inconveniences: the remote control, the Swiffer, the Post-it… Next time you are in a frustrating situation like standing in a line which is taking too long, for example, ask yourself the question: “How can I improve this experience?” The answer may surprise you with its simplicity. This is how unpleasant experiences become idea starters.

The ability to think critically is probably the one thing I have trouble transferring over to others. I’ve even said that it is the gap between being truly innovative, to merely coming up with ideas.

Is critical thinking irrelevant because of social media?

developing critical thinking skills

Here’s my answer Steve:

It’s a circular orbit in every sense. It has made more obvious what we already know: Critical thinking is non-existent on the web. Or anywhere else for that matter.

And it comes back to the same tune we’ve talking about for what seems like forever: Where all think alike, nobody thinks too much.

We’ve gotten to the point where people are passing around dogmas freely. Even in areas where there is supposed to be critical thinking, there is a complete lack perspective. I’m also starting to see that most think that the only ones who should have perspective are scientists, poets, philosophers and such. Simply because they have more “free time” to think.

In reality, time for reflection is a valuable skill we should cultivate in others.

share your thought process

Why you should tell your colleagues how you come up with your ideas

share your thought process

As the leader of your organization, do you ever think about how you come up with your ideas? Do you think about what your preferred creative style is? Do you think about how you could improve your thinking? Do you think about how you could improve your organization’s thinking?

When going through the creative process to arrive at a solution, I ask people to tell how they arrived at their solution. Or, how they got their idea. In detail. Yes, I’m that curious. Tell me how. I could care less about the “what”, I want to know how you came up with it.

What’s your insight? How did you arrive at it?

And, I also advice them to tell others how they got their idea.

Why do I do this?

Innovation posts of the week: From dumb questions to empathy

The Eight Emotional Barriers to Creativity and Innovation via @prwpmp
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