Cory Leonard

Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

Let’s Try Failure

In career on April 14, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Failure as a Muse - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Failure is in vogue. It appears to be an effective strategy for literary types, who “don’t fail like ordinary people. They fail in their bones. They fail even when they triumph.”:

“Was ever a writer so besotted by failure as F. Scott Fitzgerald?” So Geoff Dyer opens an essay on The Beautiful and Damned, and the answer is “no.” The young Fitzgerald pushed desperately for literary success, Dyer believes, to create his great subject: failure on a “colossal scale.” Ironically, the despair, regret, and alcoholism that in the end ruled his life inspired the Lost Generation’s leader. This “ideal of ruination,” to use Dyer’s phrase, has consistently heartened more-recent American writers as well, such as Richard Yates of Revolutionary Road.

via Failure as a Muse – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.




Lennon and McCartney as Models of Creativity

In ideas on August 3, 2014 at 8:50 pm

How does creativity work? Is the lone genius a myth?

But the Lennon-McCartney story also illustrates the key feature of creativity; it is the joining of the unlike to create harmony. Creativity rarely flows out of an act of complete originality. It is rarely a virgin birth. It is usually the clash of two value systems or traditions, which, in collision, create a transcendent third thing.

Shakespeare combined the Greek honor code (thou shalt avenge the murder of thy father) with the Christian mercy code (thou shalt not kill) to create the torn figure of Hamlet. Picasso combined the traditions of European art with the traditions of African masks. Saul Bellow combined the strictness of the Jewish conscience with the free-floating go-getter-ness of the American drive for success.

Sometimes creativity happens in pairs, duos like Lennon and McCartney who bring clashing worldviews but similar tastes. But sometimes it happens in one person, in someone who contains contradictions and who works furiously to resolve the tensions within.

via The Creative Climate –


Creativity. (Really)

In ideas on May 18, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Creativity has officially attained buzzword status and it remains to be seen if teaching creativity has any lasting impact–but these attributes of “highly creative people” are intriguing: daydream, observe everything, make time for solitude, turn obstacles around, and people-watch, among others.

Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity. As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional). In fact, creativity is thought to involve a number of cognitive processes, neural pathways and emotions, and we still don’t have the full picture of how the imaginative mind works.

And psychologically speaking, creative personality types are difficult to pin down, largely because they’re complex, paradoxical and tend to avoid habit or routine. And it’s not just a stereotype of the “tortured artist” — artists really may be more complicated people. Research has suggested that creativity involves the coming together of a multitude of traits, behaviors and social influences in a single person.

“It’s actually hard for creative people to know themselves because the creative self is more complex than the non-creative self,” Scott Barry Kaufman, a psychologist at New York University who has spent years researching creativity,

via 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently.

Author Jonah Lehrer has documented some of the more recent research on creativity–and links them to how organizations are employing these insights.  One takeaway:  Hard work matters, not just long walks or hot showers.

“It would be wonderful if the recipe for all kinds of creativity was to take showers and play ping-pong and go on vacation and go for walks on the beach, but when you really talk to people in the creative business, they want to tell their romantic stories about the epiphanies but then if you push them, they say even that epiphany had to go through lots of edits on it and iterations and lots of hard work after we have the big idea. And that’s a big part of the creative process too, and it is not as fun. In fact, there’s evidence that it makes us melancholy and a little bit depressed. But it’s a crucial part in creating something interesting and worthwhile. If creativity were always easy or about these blinding flashes, Picasso would not be so famous.”

via Fostering Creativity and Imagination  in the Workplace | NPR

Richard Hofstadter and America’s New Wave of Anti-Intellectualism – The Daily Beast

In ideas, politics on March 14, 2014 at 4:26 am

So the financial crisis, government disfunction, and two major wars have taken a toll–lending to the rise of “the mystique of practicality” as aptly described by Richard Hofstadter in 1963.

Writing in The Daily Beast, David Masciotra connects analyses on an earlier period in America–and showing their relevance to today, from the Tea Party to change in higher ed.

The liberal arts are in need of a new name. The intellectual agility and mobility, and the comfort with abstract thought that is attainable and improvable through vigorous engagement with the humanities, fine arts, and social sciences leads to creativity, individuality, and most of all, liberty. The liberty arts are, in significant ways, superior to the servile arts sold by dominant culture across college campuses, where the best outcome is the qualification to serve an employer with the perfect obedience.

Richard Hofstadter wrote that “The preference for vocationalism is linked to a preference for character—or personality—over mind, and for conformity and manipulative facility over individuality and talen

via Richard Hofstadter and America’s New Wave of Anti-Intellectualism – The Daily Beast.


Straight TED Talk by Benjamin Bratton

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2014 at 11:14 pm

What’s wrong with TED? “Too much faith in technology,” lacking in economics, viewing design as an end rather than a means, and more:

TED of course stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and Ill talk a bit about all three. I Think TED actually stands for: middlebrow megachurch infotainment.The key rhetorical device for TED talks is a combination of epiphany and personal testimony an “epiphimony” if you like through which the speaker shares a personal journey of insight and realisation, its triumphs and tribulations.

What is it that the TED audience hopes to get from this? A vicarious insight, a fleeting moment of wonder, an inkling that maybe its all going to work out after all? A spiritual buzz?

Im sorry but this fails to meet the challenges that we are supposedly here to confront. These are complicated and difficult and are not given to tidy just-so solutions. They don’t care about anyones experience of optimism. Given the stakes, making our best and brightest waste their time – and the audiences time – dancing like infomercial hosts is too high a price. It is cynical.

Also, it just doesn’t work.

via We need to talk about TED | Benjamin Bratton | Comment is free |

Why so glum about this fantastic enterprise? Isn’t TED a lot of fun? Well, yes, it is–and I readily admit to enjoying many talks as much as the next person.

But if you want to do the hard work (and thinking) that is required for major steps forward–rather than inspirational infotainment– we need to understand more complexity, not less… as Bratton, apparently part of the loyal opposition, says, to “slog through the hard stuff (history, economics, philosophy, art, ambiguities, contradictions).”

In response, TED founder Chris Anderson makes the case that the forum aims to “help improve the quality of public discourse” in the Guardian. Definitely worth further discussion.


7 Data Viz Sites to Inspire Your Creative Eye

In tech on October 1, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Worth checking out for infographcs insights and designs:

via 7 Data Viz Sites to Inspire Your Creative Eye.

You’re Distracted. This Professor Can Help. – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education

In tech on May 5, 2013 at 8:27 pm

Now that you have read this online…go offline and contemplate what technology is doing to you: Information and Contemplation: a Reading List – A selection of readings from a course taught by David M. Levy at the University of Washington

Introduction to Contemplative Practice

  • Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, by Jon Kabat-Zinn (pages 3-19)
  • Alfred W. Kaszniak, “Contemplative Pedagogy: Perspectives From Cognitive and Affective Science,” in Contemplative Approaches to Learning and Inquiry Across Disciplines

Smart or Stupid?

  • Adam Gopnik, “The Information: How the Internet Gets Inside Us,” The New Yorker (2011)
  • Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other (2011; pages 151-170)
  • Jane McGonigal, Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World (2011; introduction and conclusion)


  • Warren Thorngate, “On Paying Attention” (1988) in Recent Trends in Theoretical Psychology (1993; pages 247-263)
  • Antoine Lutz, Heleen A. Slagter, John D. Dunne, and Richard J. Davidson, “Attention Regulation and Monitoring in Meditation,” Trends in Cognitive Sciences (2008; pages 163-169)


  • Stephen R. Barley, Debra E. Meyerson, and Stine Grodal, “E-Mail as Source and Symbol of Stress,” Organization Science (2010)
  • Linda Stone, “Just Breathe: Building the Case for Email Apnea,” Huffington Post (2008)

The Body

  • Galen Cranz, The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body, and Design (1998; chapters 3-4)
  • “Is All That Sitting Really Killing Us?,” The New York Times, “Room for Debate” (2010)

Emotional Regulation

  • Chade-Meng-Tan, Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness and World Peace (2012; Meng, as he is known, founded Google’s mindfulness course, “Search Inside Yourself.”)


  • David M. Levy, “No Time to Think: Reflections on Information Technology and Contemplative Scholarship,” Ethics and Information Technology (2007)


  • Claudia Wallis, “The Impacts of Media Multitasking on Children’s Learning and Development” (2010; report from research seminar, Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop)
  • Victor M. González and Gloria Mark, “‘Constant, Constant, Multi-Tasking Craziness’: Managing Multiple Working Spheres” (2004; paper presented at Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems)
  • David L. Strayer and Jason M. Watson, “Supertaskers and the Multitasking Brain” (2012), Scientific American Mind (pages 22-29)
  • David M. Levy, Jacob O. Wobbrock, Alfred W. Kaszniak, and Marilyn Ostergren, “The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation Training on Multitasking in a High-Stress Information Environment” (2012; paper presented at Graphics Interface Conference)


  • David M. Levy, “More, Faster, Better: Governance in an Age of Overload, Busyness, and Speed” (2006; First Monday)
  • Judith Shulevitz, The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time (2010)
  • “The Unplugged Challenge,” The New York Times (2010)
  • Sabbath Manifesto (Web site)

via You’re Distracted. This Professor Can Help. – Technology – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

TED Haters?

In media, tech on March 18, 2013 at 8:50 pm

I like TED, but am intersted to consider the critics viewpoint.  They boil down to charges of elitism, Silicon Valley-buzzword talk, and a sense of positive psychology.  And then:

The biggest charge critics level at TED is that it glorifies “ideas” for their own sake, and rewards snappy presentation over rigorous thought or intellectual debate.

via Why do people hate TED so much? | FP Passport.


Grading Schools Isn’t the Answer. It’s the Problem. –

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Teacher evaluations are hot.  But what if they are not measuring the right things?

And yet now, policy makers in both parties propose ratcheting it up further — this time, by “grading” teachers as well.

It’s a mistake. In the year I spent reporting on John H. Reagan High School in Austin, I came to understand the dangers of judging teachers primarily on standardized test scores. Raw numbers don’t begin to capture what happens in the classroom. And when we reward and punish teachers based on such artificial measures, there is too often an unintended consequence for our kids.

via Grading Schools Isn’t the Answer. It’s the Problem. –


The Bloomberg Way – James Bennet – The Atlantic

In politics on November 7, 2012 at 5:15 am

Bloomberg waxes poetic on the life of a political leader in the Twitterverse and other challenges of governance, including a declining media establishment:

The bad news is, I think it is fair to say, the quality of journalism has gone down dramatically. It is a function of the economics of the news business. We don’t have experienced reporters. We get rid of them and get low-priced novices who have never traveled and have no understanding of what they’re writing… We don’t have the editors, we don’t have the legal beagles, you have the competition of the blogs—I don’t know what the difference between a blog and a newspaper is, for example, and sometimes they have different standards, even under the same logo and the same name.

So I think we’ve dumbed down, and it’s not good for society. It’s hard to argue that we aren’t going more towards an instant-gratification, sound-bite kind of world. And I think the technology is driving that; the economics of the business, as I just said, is driving that; the political process is driving it.

via The Bloomberg Way – James Bennet – The Atlantic.