- Nov 2022
Nobody ever says rubber ducky debugging involves writing memos to your preferred duck, after all.
Seemingly both rubber duck debugging and casual conversations with acquaintances would seem to be soft forms of diffuse thinking which may help one come to a heuristic-based decision or realization.
These may be useful, but should also be used in combination with more logical, system two forms of decision making. (At least not in the quick, notice the problem sort of issues in which one may be debugging.)
I never immediately read an article then make a notecard.
By waiting some amount of time (days/weeks/a few months) between originally reading something and processing one's notes on it allows them to slowly distill into one's consciousness. It also allows one to operate on their diffuse thinking which may also help to link ideas to others in their memory.
This reminded me of Robert Greene’s definition of creativity, which is that creativity is a function of putting in lots of tedious work. “If you put a lot of hours into thinking and researching and reading,” Robert says, “hour after hour—a very tedious process—creativity will come to you.”
Robert Green's definition of creativity sounds like it's related to diffuse thinking processes. read: https://billyoppenheimer.com/august-14-2022/
Often note taking, and reviewing over those notes is more explicit in form for creating new ideas.
Come back to explore these.
- Oct 2022
Goutor defines self-help notes as notes which one would use to refresh their memory about what remains to be done or researched, problems that remain to be solved, or information which is needed to be researched or found. (p26) These are akin in some sense to what I call "open questions". He also indicates that these notes might be triggered by one's daily activities or occasional musings which relate to one's project but occur outside of its active pursuit. In this sense, they have a similar feel to the idea of Ahrens' fleeting notes, but in Goutor's practice they aren't defined as occurring while one is doing active reading or research.
He suggests that one keeps these notes in a separate area so that they might be systematically and regularly visited for review, further research, or answering as the opportunities to do so present themselves. Once the questions have been answered and appropriate notes updated or added, these self-help notes can be discarded.
here are several ways I havefound useful to invite the sociological imagination:
C. Wright Mills delineates a rough definition of "sociological imagination" which could be thought of as a framework within tools for thought: 1. Combinatorial creativity<br /> 2. Diffuse thinking, flâneur<br /> 3. Changing perspective (how would x see this?) Writing dialogues is a useful method to accomplish this. (He doesn't state it, but acting as a devil's advocate is a useful technique here as well.)<br /> 4. Collecting and lay out all the multiple viewpoints and arguments on a topic. (This might presume the method of devil's advocate I mentioned above 😀)<br /> 5. Play and exploration with words and terms<br /> 6. Watching levels of generality and breaking things down into smaller constituent parts or building blocks. (This also might benefit of abstracting ideas from one space to another.)<br /> 7. Categorization or casting ideas into types 8. Cross-tabulating and creation of charts, tables, and diagrams or other visualizations 9. Comparative cases and examples - finding examples of an idea in other contexts and time settings for comparison and contrast 10. Extreme types and opposites (or polar types) - coming up with the most extreme examples of comparative cases or opposites of one's idea. (cross reference: Compass Points https://hypothes.is/a/Di4hzvftEeyY9EOsxaOg7w and thinking routines). This includes creating dimensions of study on an object - what axes define it? What indices can one find data or statistics on? 11. Create historical depth - examples may be limited in number, so what might exist in the historical record to provide depth.
(2) A second technique which should be part of theintellectual workman's way of life consists of a kind ofrelaxed browsing in libraries, letting the mind play overbooks and new periodicals and encyclopedias. Of course,I have in mind the several problems on which I am activelyworking, and try to be passively receptive to unforeseenand unplanned linkages.
"Relaxed browsing and allowing the mind to wander" as a method of thinking and work is stated differently, but is highly related to the idea of diffuse thinking or working as a flâneur.
- historical context
- combinatorial creativity
- trend analysis
- mind wandering
- devil's advocate
- The Sociological Imagination
- sociological imagination
- building blocks
- historical perspective
- diffuse thinking
- compass points
- information visualization
- thinking routines
- Sep 2022
Joey Cofone: Are there laws to creativity?
Joey Cofone, author of the upcoming book The Laws of Creativity, is selling the idea of "float" (in comparison to Mihaly Csikzentmihaly's "flow"), which is ostensibly similar to Barbara Oakley's diffuse thinking framework, Nassim Nicholas Taleb's flâneur framing, and a dose of the Zeigarnik effect.
I'm concerned that this book will be broadly prescriptive without any founding on any of the extant research, literature, or science of the past. I'll think more highly of it if it were to quote/reference something like Merton and Barber's The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity: A Study in Sociological Semantics and the Sociology of Science.
Following on the above:
David Allen (of GTD fame) indicates that one should close all open loops to free up working memory, but leaving some open for active thought, follow up, and potential future insight creation can be a useful pattern too. (2022-09-09 9:05 AM)
- Aug 2022
Every book I read is also broken up and digested on these cards, which are all loosely by themed.
Holiday analogizes his reading and note taking practice as a means of digesting books into his note card collection.
Link to: - https://hypothes.is/a/OZ2r9rOfEeu9oFPzd3bMlw - Reader's Digest as a popular example
How do the ideas of "digesting books" and "ruminant machines" relate to the psychology phenomenon of diffuse thinking over time?
In Michael Ondaatje’s novel, The English Patient, the word “thinkering” was coined, linking the way we create and understand concepts in our mind with “tinkering”.
thinkering<br /> a portmanteau of thinking and tinkering<br /> It describes the sort of mindful thinking and exploration one does when interacting with objects using one's hands.
quoted here as first appearing in Michael Ondaatje's novel The English Patient
link to: Barbara Oakley and ideas of diffuse thinking
- Jun 2022
the time you sit down tomake progress on something, all the work to gather and organize thesource material needs to already be done. We can’t expectourselves to instantly come up with brilliant ideas on demand. Ilearned that innovation and problem-solving depend on a routine thatsystematically brings interesting ideas to the surface of ourawareness.
By writing down and collecting ideas slowly over time, working on them in small fits and spurts, when one finally comes to do the final work on their writing project or other work, the pieces only need minor shaping to take their final form. This process allows for a much greater level of serendipity, creativity, and potential sustained genius of connecting ideas across time to take shape in a final piece.
How does this relate to diffuse thinking? How can slow diffuse thinking be leveraged into this process?
Writing down fleeting notes while walking around can be valuable as one's ideas brew slowly in the mind (diffuse thinking) in combination with active combinatorial creativity, thus a form of Llullan combinatorial diffusion.
Many business books seem so shallow and often only have one real insight which is repeated multiple times, perhaps to drive the point home or perhaps just to have enough filler to seem being worth the purchase of a book.
Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich is an example of this, though it shows a different form of genius in expanding the idea from a variety of perspectives so that eventually everyone will absorb the broader idea which is distilled to great effect into the title.
Perhaps the most immediate benefit of capturing content outsideour heads is that we escape what I call the “reactivity loop”—thehamster wheel of urgency, outrage, and sensationalism thatcharacterizes so much of the Internet. The moment you firstencounter an idea is the worst time to decide what it means. Youneed to set it aside and gain some objectivity.
Not sure I agree wholly with
The moment you first encounter an idea is the worst time to decide what it means
Sometimes your fleeting reactions are incredibly useful upon first encounter as they won't return as easily. However this is also a space where setting things aside for diffuse thinking apparatus to work can be highly useful.
Either way, one should always return to ideas in their notebook for future processing.
- May 2022
new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to seewhether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, andpeople will say, “How did he do it? He must be a genius!”
You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear or read a new trick or a
Gian-Carlo Rota, Indiscrete Thoughts (Boston: Birkhäuser Boston, 1997), 202.
Richard Feynman indicated in an interview that he kept a dozen of his favorite problems at the top of his mind. As he encountered new results and tricks, he tried applying them to those problems in hopes of either solving them or in coming up with new ideas. Over time by random but combinatorial chance, solutions or ideas would present themselves as ideas were juxtaposed.
One would suspect that Feynman hadn't actually read Raymond Llull, but this technique sounds very similar to the Llullan combinatorial arts from centuries earlier, albeit in a much more simplified form.
Can we find evidence of Feynman having read or interacted with Llull? Was it independently created or was he influenced?
I had an example of this on 2022-05-28 in Dan Allosso's book club on Equality in the closing minutes where a bit of inspiration hit me to combine the ideas of memes, evolution, and Indigenous knowledge and storytelling to our current political situation. Several of them are problems and ideas I've been working with over years or months, and they came together all at once to present a surprising and useful new combination. #examples
Link this also to the idea of diffuse thinking as a means of solving problems. One can combine the idea of diffuse thinking with combinatorial creativity to super-charge one's problem solving and idea generation capacity this way. What would one call this combination? It definitely needs a name. Llullan combinatorial diffusion, perhaps? To some extent Llull was doing this already as part of his practice, it's just that he didn't know or write explicitly about the diffuse thinking portion (to my knowledge), though this doesn't mean that he wasn't the beneficiary of it in actual practice, particularly when it's known that many of his time practiced lectio divina and meditated on their ideas. Alternately meditating on ideas and then "walking away" from them will by force cause diffuse thinking to be triggered.
Are there people for whom diffuse thinking doesn't work from a physiological perspective? What type of neurodiversity does this cause?
- Feb 2022
Conversely, we can use the Zeigarnik effect to our advantage bydeliberately keeping unanswered questions in our mind. We canruminate about them, even when we do something that has nothingto do with work and ideally does not require our full attention. Lettingthoughts linger without focusing on them gives our brains theopportunity to deal with problems in a different, often surprisinglyproductive way. While we have a walk or a shower or clean thehouse, the brain cannot help but play around with the last unsolvedproblem it came across. And that is why we so often find the answerto a question in rather casual situations.
One can use the Zeigarnik effect to their advantage by keeping specific unanswered questions in their mind so that it can use the diffuse thinking effect to solve them while doing other activities like walking, doing the dishes, etc.
I don't think it's a surprise to anyone to know that there are certain activities that help create that space, and it’s been widely commented upon. Doing the dishes, walking the dog, cleaning the house – you need to be doing something.For me, pruning trees in our olive grove is perfect. It takes a little bit of attention, but not that much attention.
This is related to the idea of diffuse thinking caused by taking breaks or doing things that don't require extreme concentration. Flaneuring... walking, etc.
You want an activity that requires a little bit of attention but not too much attention. Doing dishes, walking, errands, etc. are good examples.
Relate this to the
- Jul 2021
I suspect there's a link here to the broader idea of diffuse thinking...
<small><cite class='h-cite via'>ᔥ <span class='p-author h-card'>Cathie </span> in Why Your Brain Needs Idle Time. – My Notes (<time class='dt-published'>07/22/2021 13:32:03</time>)</cite></small>