Month: November 2012

When Words Are No Longer Enough

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The other day I was thinking about how cool it is for photographers to actually be able to tell stories through their pictures. It makes their life easier, in my opinion, because while we writers have to sit and think up of a thousand words, they just snap the image and photoshop it. I’m sure photography is challenging in its own sort of way and requires a knowledge of how things like lighting and composition work so I am not trying to undermine it. So lately I’ve been trying to build my artistic side. Considering that my drawing skills – or lack thereof – are limited to stickmen and random doodles that make absolutely no sense to the sane person (I call it abstract art), I’ve been looking more at playing with camera images on photoshop. Also, thanks to my Galaxy Note, it’s easier to play with Photoshop and pretend all the time that I’m actually taking notes during classes. Today I was exploring the free Photoshop program on the tablet, and this is what I came up with. The first image changed the picture to make it look like a painting , had to go through the tutorial for this one. For the second one, there was a setting under Artistic Effects, I think it was the Chalk and Charcoal.

I conclude with a quote by Red smith who says, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”

Deciding Whether Habits Make You or Break You

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There is a quote that goes like, “Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of.”

I was reading The Power of Habits by Charles Duhigg and he broke down the habits that seem to rule our lives to three simple steps: 1) Cue, 2) Routine, 3)Reward. Take for example the stereotypical donut-eating traffic cop whose main cue is boredom during days when there are no tickets to give out. So he passes a donut shop, gets himself a box, and his reward is the sugary high he gets after consumption. So what keeps the habit loop running is the ‘craving’ people get when they do not have what they want. This ‘craving’ is made up of desire and frustration, the frustration that continues to exist until the habit loop starts again (explains the circle that is on the cover of the book).

To change a habit, or form a new habit, one suggestion was to keep the habit loop going by keeping the “cue” and “reward” the same but changing the routine. Simple examples are commonly known especially in books on healthy eating like replacing sugary drinks with water, and eating an apple instead of chocolate. Also, it is important to be completely aware of the cue that initiates the habit loop, and removing it, if possible.

To do this, one needs to be fully aware of his habit loops. Also it’s necessary to understand the motivation that drives the habit loop – or the craving – because sometimes it’s not what we think it is. For instance, a person who gets up from his seat every day at 3 pm to grab a chocolate bar could be doing it out of boredom and a need for distraction instead of actual hunger. So he could replace it with something else, like standing around the water cooler and chatting up with someone.

The main idea is to actually be conscious about habits, and decide which habits are good for us and which ones are bad, which should be rewired and which should be thrown out. The author provides many examples of studies being made, and habits of individuals and organizations which I will not delve in here, but is very interesting to read about, especially that it makes you realize how marketers use all these tools to help develop habits in consumers so they keep on buying their products and services.

Despite reading a book on the power of habits, there are some habits that I don’t see myself giving up any time soon….

What I was doing while writing this post….

Design.Story. Symphony

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Following up on the previous post, “Is it the end for the knowledge worker?” I’d like to share some of the interesting ideas that I read on Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind”. Just to summarize, his concept is that in a world of abundance and outsourcing, people  nowadays need to tap into their right “creative” mind to stand out, or to make products that truly stand out.

One of the first things he mentioned was “design”. In the book, Paolo Antonelli, a curator of architeracture and design is quoted to say that  good design is a “renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive sceince, human need, and beauty to produce something that the world didn’t know it was missing.” I’m surprised Apple was not mentioned in the book, because the whole chapter made me think about Apple products and about how picky Steve Jobs used to be about the design of his products. He didn’t focus so much on creating many products as much as he focused on creating a few breathtaking and innovative products.

Also one of the six senses mentioned was story. In a world where a lot of information is available on the web, and you can google just about anything you want, Pink says that “what begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact.”  He quotes Roger Schank as saying, “Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they are ideally set up to understand stories.” This idea makes me think of a global initiative called “Why Poverty?” which uses film to get people talking about Poverty. Their first aim is “To produce narratives that inspire people to think and be part of the solution.” The films transmit around the world this month (November 2012) on more than 70 national broadcasters hoping to reach 500 million people.

Finally, Pink talks about symphony which is another sense that’s necessary for the new-age worker as it is difficult for computers and low-wage foreign workers to do. It involves establishing patterns and relationships where none seem to exist, inventing something new by combining different elements, and making bold leaps of imagination to deliver something creative to the world. Again I think about how Apple reinvented the phone with the iphone back in 2007, when Steve Jobs said that he was introducing “An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator.” He repeated the statement so it would sink in, “An iPod, a phone, an internet mobile communicator…. these are NOT three separate devices! We are calling it iPhone!”

Design, story and symphony were only three out of the six senses that Daniel Pink spoke about. The other three were “Play, Empathy and Meaning.” Truth be told I was surprised Pink didn’t mention Apple in any of the examples he gave even though statements he made immediately made me think “Apple, iphone, Macair, Steve Jobs, 1984 commercial…” I think I could find an example from Apple for each of his chapters, except maybe for the “Empathy” chapter considering their inflated prices…

Guess that’s it, so I leave you with a final message…

Image from istockphoto.com

Is it the end for the knowledge worker?

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I’ve been reading Daniel Pink’s book “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future” and so far it’s been filled with many interesting idea. According to Pink, we are approaching the end of the era of the knowledge worker; the guy who’s been told from a young age to go to school, get good grades and become a doctor or engineer. His theory is that a world ruled by material abundance, technological advancements, and globalization, people need to rely more on their right hemisphere than the left.

According to cognitive psychology, the left hemisphere of the brain is the captain of  logical and analytical thinking, while the right hemisphere takes care of creativity, emotions and intuition. Just like relationships between men and women usually have men dominate because they’re more rational than their emotional counterparts, for years, the left hemisphere was seen to be superior than the right hemisphere. However, now it’s seen that no hemisphere is better than the other, but the two hemispheres are just unique in their own way.

Looking at our current educational system, it focuses a lot on developing the left side of the brain, when the focus nowadays should be on the right. Think about it, all those math problems we had to solve during our SATs could be done using computers nowadays. Also, outsourcing work to places where it can be done faster and cheaper means that for a person to stay marketable, they have to focus on the things that can’t be mass-produced using a machine. That’s where the Right Brain kicks in as developing it would help people become more innovative, detect new opportunities for the new age, create artistic beauty and emphathize with others to understand dynamics of human interactions.

Also, Pink mentioned about how the market is filled with so many commodities that what would make one stand out isn’t functionality alone, but also the design. Reading that made me think about Apple and their breathtaking products. There’s a quote by Steve Jobs where he defines creativity, and talks about the importance of nonlinear thinking in design, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”

Daniel Pink goes on to speak in detail about the six senses; Design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning. His idea is mastering these would help one shine in the new post-knowledge-worker era, but since I haven’t finished the book yet, I guess this is where my half-review ends. I’ve read Daniel’s Pink Drive, and I have to admit that I like his writing style because it doesn’t exactly read like a boring textbook, but the research he has done is quite solid plus he’s got exercises on how to master the six senses.

So what’s your insight on the topic? Do you think it’s the end for the knowledge worker, and the beginning for the creative worker?