How Remix Culture Fuels Creativity & Invention: Kirby Ferguson at TED


Brain Pickings

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From Bob Dylan to Steve Jobs, or how copyright law came to hinder the very thing it set out to protect.

Remix culture is something I think about a great deal in the context ofcombinatorial creativity, and no one has done more to champion the popular understanding of remix as central to creativity than my friend and documentarian extraordinaire Kirby Ferguson. So I’m enormously proud of Kirby’s recent TED talk about his Everything is a Remix project, exploring remix culture, copyright and creativity — watch and take notes:

The Grey Album is a remix. It is new media created from old media. It was made using these three techniques: copy, transform and combine. It’s how you remix. You take existing songs, you chop them up, you transform the pieces, you combine them back together again, and you’ve got a new song, but that new song is clearly comprised of old songs.

But I think these aren’t just the components of remixing. I think these are the basic elements of all creativity. I think everything is a remix, and I think this is a better way to conceive of creativity.

[…] Leer más “How Remix Culture Fuels Creativity & Invention: Kirby Ferguson at TED”

The Value of Theoretical And Practical Knowledge

Formal education tends to lean toward the theory side of the spectrum and teaching things to yourself tends to lean toward the practical. You can learn both through either method, but each tends to give you a little more of one over the other.

The key to getting all of the knowledge you need is to understand that whichever route you’ve chosen you’ve probably gained a lot more of one side of the knowledge equation and need to spend some time acquiring knowledge from the other end to balance your education.

If you go the 4 year degree route realize that many people in the work force can already perform the specifics of your job better than you can. It’s up to you to put in the time gaining the practical experience you need to complement the theory you learned. While in school don’t pass on opportunities to gain the practical. Apply for that internship. Try to get a summer job in your chosen profession no matter what the specific job.

If you skip school and go straight to the workforce, understan


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A couple of recent guest posts have discussed the value of 4 year and online degrees as compared to learning on your own. While I’ve added some thoughts to the previous 2 posts, I wanted to clarify some thing in a post of my own.

In case you missed them here are the 2 guest posts I’m referring to.

Before anything else let me make it clear that I think knowledge is incredibly important to any career and life in general. In the signature to my email I add a line from a Bob Dylan song. Brownie points if you know the song.

He not busy being born is busy dying.

I use the quote as a reminder to always be learning something new and always striving to grow. The moment you stop doing either is the moment you stop being.

Albert Einstein

Theory vs. Practical

When it comes to knowledge there are different kinds of knowledge and different ways of acquiring each kind. On one side is theory and on the other side is the practical application of theory. Both types of knowledge are important and both make you better at whatever you do.

I think those who advance the furthest in life tend to be those who acquire knowledge at both ends of the spectrum and acquire it in a variety of ways.

Theoretical knowledge — teaches the why. It helps you understand why one technique works where another fails. It shows you the whole forest, builds the context, and helps you set strategy. Where self education is concerned theory prepares you to set a direction for your future education. Theory teaches you through the experience of others.

Theoretical knowledge can often lead to a deeper understand of a concept through seeing it in context of a greater whole and understanding the why behind it..

Practical knowledge — helps you acquire the specific techniques that become the tools of your trade. It sits much closer to your actual day-to-day work. There are some things you can only learn through doing and experiencing. Where theory is often taught in the ideal of a vacuum, the practical is learned through the reality of life.

Practical knowledge can often lead to a deeper understanding of a concept through the act of doing and personal experience.

Both of the above are important. You won’t survive in any career unless you can bring results and to do that you need practical knowledge. There’s no avoiding it.

At the same time learning how to solve a specific problem only teaches you how to solve that same problem again. Practice can only take you so far. Theory helps you apply what you learned solving one problem to different problems. Leer más “The Value of Theoretical And Practical Knowledge”

Entrevista ‘Rolling Stone’ con Barack Obama, por Jann S. Wenner

Éste es un resumen de la larga conversación. La entrevista se puede leer en su integridad aquí.

HABLEMOS DE MÚSICA

* “Mi iPod tiene aproximadamente 2.000 canciones… Hay clásicos de Stevie Wonder, mucho de Bob Dylan y Rolling Stones, R&B, de jazzmen como Miles Davis y John Coltrane… También mucha música clásica; no soy aficionado a la ópera, pero hay días en los que María Callas es exactamente lo que necesito”

* “Gracias a mi asistente, Reggie Love, mi gusto por el rap se ha desarrollado bastante; escucho a raperos como Jay Z, Nas y Lil Wayne”.

* “Bob Dylan tocó en su actuación en la Casa Blanca The times they are a-changin’… pero no quiso hacerse una foto conmigo. Simplemente, acabó su actuación, bajó del escenario, me dio la mano y se fue. Me gustó, porque eso es precisamente lo que se espera de Dylan”.

* “Paul McCartney, en cambio, tocó una versión del Michelle de The Beatles. Cuando Michelle, mi esposa, era una niña de una familia trabajadora de Chicago, no se podía imaginar la idea de que un día uno de The Beatles estaría cantándole su canción”.

PERO NO EVITAMOS NINGÚN TEMA POLÉMICO…


La revista ROLLING STONE demuestra en su tercera entrevista con Barack Obama que es el único medio del mundo que puede meterse sin ningún tipo de pactos previos en el Despacho Oval, en la agenda política de presidente… y en su iPod. El fundador de ROLLING STONE, Jann S. Wenner, entrevista al Presidente de Estados Unidos.

Entrevista 'Rolling Stone' con Barack Obama, por Jann S. Wenner

Éste es un resumen de la larga conversación. La entrevista se puede leer en su integridad aquí.

HABLEMOS DE MÚSICA

* “Mi iPod tiene aproximadamente 2.000 canciones…  Hay clásicos de Stevie Wonder, mucho de Bob Dylan y Rolling Stones, R&B, de jazzmen como Miles Davis y John Coltrane… También mucha música clásica; no soy aficionado a la ópera, pero hay días en los que María Callas es exactamente lo que necesito”

* “Gracias a mi asistente, Reggie Love, mi gusto por el rap se ha desarrollado bastante; escucho a raperos como Jay Z, Nas y Lil Wayne“.

* “Bob Dylan tocó en su actuación en la Casa Blanca The times they are a-changin’… pero no quiso hacerse una foto conmigo. Simplemente, acabó su actuación, bajó del escenario, me dio la mano y se fue. Me gustó, porque eso es precisamente lo que se espera de Dylan”.

* “Paul McCartney, en cambio, tocó una versión del Michelle de The Beatles. Cuando Michelle, mi esposa, era una niña de una familia trabajadora de Chicago, no se podía imaginar la idea de que un día uno de The Beatles estaría cantándole su canción”.

PERO NO EVITAMOS NINGÚN TEMA POLÉMICO… Leer más “Entrevista ‘Rolling Stone’ con Barack Obama, por Jann S. Wenner”

Stop Comparing Yourself with Steve Jobs

Comparing yourself with Steve Jobs is not healthy. Never mind that it’s probably the pastime of every alpha male and female businessperson on the planet these days.

Drawing inspiration from Steve Jobs — or from anyone else you admire — studying them, and learning from them, now those are different matters. But all too often we conflate admiration and comparison. They’re two completely different things. One is smart, the other debilitating.

Comparison sounds like this: “Why aren’t I that creative?” “How come I don’t have the negotiating cajones he does?” “How come I can’t manage my people to that level of excellence?” “Why can’t I run two companies at once like he does?” “Why didn’t I have the guts to drop out of college and do what I really wanted to do?” “How come I haven’t had a comeback?” And it’s no surprise what comes next: “What a loser I am. I’ll never be like him. I’ll never be able to do anything that big. If I were sitting across the office from him he’d make mincemeat of me. I just don’t have what he has.”

The loop is repeated every hour or every time you read something about your icon, whichever comes first.

And this is healthy how?

Such comparisons spiral you into depression. They demotivate you, demoralize you, and generally suck every last bit of enthusiasm and aliveness out of you, so that you go into your next meeting or activity unable to contribute an ounce of energy to the room. How could you? You just annihilated your spirit.


http://blogs.hbr.org | Dan Pallotta

Comparing yourself with Steve Jobs is not healthy. Never mind that it’s probably the pastime of every alpha male and female businessperson on the planet these days.

Drawing inspiration from Steve Jobs — or from anyone else you admire — studying them, and learning from them, now those are different matters. But all too often we conflate admiration and comparison. They’re two completely different things. One is smart, the other debilitating.

Comparison sounds like this: “Why aren’t I that creative?” “How come I don’t have the negotiating cajones he does?” “How come I can’t manage my people to that level of excellence?” “Why can’t I run two companies at once like he does?” “Why didn’t I have the guts to drop out of college and do what I really wanted to do?” “How come I haven’t had a comeback?” And it’s no surprise what comes next: “What a loser I am. I’ll never be like him. I’ll never be able to do anything that big. If I were sitting across the office from him he’d make mincemeat of me. I just don’t have what he has.”

The loop is repeated every hour or every time you read something about your icon, whichever comes first.

And this is healthy how?

Such comparisons spiral you into depression. They demotivate you, demoralize you, and generally suck every last bit of enthusiasm and aliveness out of you, so that you go into your next meeting or activity unable to contribute an ounce of energy to the room. How could you? You just annihilated your spirit.

Don’t touch hot stoves, don’t forget to call your mother on Mother’s Day, and don’t compare yourself with others. Wire this into your brain. Ruthlessly comparing yourself with others has become confused with some kind of tough-love work ethic. It isn’t the same thing. And it isn’t the least bit productive. It leaves you with nothing but personal unhappiness, and you can’t create very much of anything with that.

Because we confuse destructive comparisons with a strong work ethic, we make a habit of them, and mental habits get hardwired into our brains.

Break the cycle. Do an intervention on yourself. Begin the process of permanently rewiring your brain by consciously recognizing that this thing you thought was good, or responsible, is in fact the opposite.

There’s a saying, “You can’t afford the luxury of a negative thought.” It’s true. And comparing yourself to others is the equivalent of smothering yourself in negative thought. The feelings of self-loathing that follow are ultimately self-centered and self-indulgent in the most negative possible way. Yes, it’s a form of self-pity.

And if all that isn’t enough, consider this: The last way you will ever get to play in a game remotely like the one your icons play in is by comparing yourself with them.

When I was in my 20s I moved to Los Angeles to try and get a record deal as a singer and songwriter. I compared myself with Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell constantly. Using that approach, I never produced a remotely memorable song. And then I started observing pop/rock songwriter John Cougar. He was derided by the critics for being derivative of, but never nearly as insightful or affecting as, the greats. In a brilliant stroke of authenticity, he dropped the name I assume record producers had forced on him and began using his real name — John Mellencamp. As he embraced his own inadequacies, he began to write about things that were actually real and personal to him, instead of trying to channel Bob Seeger, and suddenly he was producing critically acclaimed music. He went on to found Farm Aid and in 2008 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Using Mellencamp as my model — which meant being true to me and not someone else — I began writing much better, much more authentic material, and even had a song recorded by Edgar Winter. Leer más “Stop Comparing Yourself with Steve Jobs”

How I Downsized Myself

Dean Ornish made this point too in “Change or Die.” He found that “radical, sweeping, comprehensive changes are often easier for people than small, incremental ones. For example, he says that people who make moderate changes in their diets get the worst of both worlds: They feel deprived and hungry because they aren’t eating everything they want, but they aren’t making big enough changes to quickly see an improvement in how they feel.” Yes, Ornish’s program is radical — but it comes in the form of highly detailed recommendations that are easy to execute.

3. Success breeds success. This may be my least surprising conclusion, but it’s the one I experienced time and again. It’s striking how losing a few pounds generates the enthusiasm to keep going and lose a few more pounds. In part that’s because little victories inspire greater confidence, in part it’s because outsiders begin to notice and offer positive feedback, which creates even more commitment to keep going. When it comes to change, big victories are the results of lots of little wins.

That’s a point HBS change guru John Kotter has made for years, including in the “Change or Die” essay. “It’s always important to identify, achieve, and celebrate some quick, positive results for the vital emotional lifts that they provide,” the article notes. “Harvard’s [John] Kotter believes in the importance of ‘short-term wins’ for companies, meaning ‘victories that nourish faith in the change effort, emotionally reward the hard workers, keep the critics at bay, and build momentum. Without sufficient wins that are visible, timely, unambiguous, and meaningful to others, change efforts invariably run into serious problems.'”

Here’s hoping your change efforts — personal or professional — don’t run into serious problems. And I hope I haven’t taxed your patience by sharing my personal case study in change.


I know, I know. There’s nothing more boring than when bloggers write about their own experiences as a way to make a broader point about life, work, or society. But I hope you’ll indulge me this one time, as I reflect on a small matter of personal improvement and ask what it might say about the bigger challenge of making change in organizations.

Now that Labor Day has come and gone, I can share the results of a project that has engaged me over the spring and summer — losing weight. I have lost 32 pounds over the last 22 weeks. This is a big deal for me, and not just because my new theme song is Bob Dylan‘s “Ballad of a Thin Man.” It’s a big deal because I achieved something I’ve been thinking about for years — getting to the weight I was in college, more than 25 years after I graduated.

As I reflect on what I learned over these last 22 weeks, I keep thinking back to a much-discussed article we published more than five years ago in Fast Company. Called “Change or Die,” it was a bracing reminder of how hard it is for people to make deep-seated changes in their habits, even when they know the price of failure may be death, in the form of a heart attack. Leer más “How I Downsized Myself”