Put yourself in a radical new environment to stimulate creativity: I am going to India in one week

Many creative people will tell you to change your environment, in a radical way, to find inspiration and to stimulate your creativity. That way new sensory-motors inputs will be processed by your brain and could lead to radical new ideas. Amy Tan said: “Memory feeds imagination”.

It is what I am going to do: feeding my memories with new sensory-motors inputs: views, smells, noises, tastes, touches, social interactions, etc. Four months of new social interactions, of new visions of the world, of new ideas, and all this in a constantly changing environment.

I am thinking about this trip for about 2 years now; things changed many times since then: I was going… I was not going… I was going… I was not going… etc. However, I told me: Fred, if you want to make it, you have to take the time, however you will never do it. It is what I decided: I will take the time. I will be in India for the next 2 to 6 months.

Do not ask me what I will do in India, what my itinerary is, or anything else: I have no idea. The only thing I know is that I arrive in New-Delhi. Why bothering to plan a trip when you know that nothing will go as expected, particularly in India. Go with the flow and take opportunities, this is the only way you can live fabulous things in your trip. So, this is how I see it, this is how I will live it.

So, what happen with my blog, with Talk Digger, and all the other things I work on since 6 months? In 2004 there were 50 000 cyber-coffee in India. I would bet that there are approximately 75 000 in 2006. India is the country with the greatest number of Bachelors in the World. So, do not worry, I will keep myself informed of what happen. If something goes wrong with Talk Digger, I will be able to fix it without any problems. The only thing vis-à-vis Talk Digger is that I will not add new features as long as I come back in Quebec.

The content of this blog will change a little bit. Right now it mostly talk about social softwares, the semantic web and related technologies, and Talk Digger. For the next months, I will try write about the IT industry in India. This is one of the goal of this trip: trying to understand how the IT industry in India works, how the management works, how they are able to efficiently work with people coming from everywhere in India: how they manage around 200 religions of above 1 millions and more adepts, 150 languages and dialects, people from different casts (yes, cast system is always present in the Indian culture and society: a Brahmin is a Brahmin and an Untouchable is an Untouchable).

Probably that some Indian people will read my entries (yup, I have you in mind Sudar) and laugh at my prejudices and misconceptions: please forgive me and correct me with a comment on these blog posts. In fact, India is quite mysterious to the Occidental world. Rare are the people that have been there and few know what happened and what is happening in the country. One of the things that make the headlines News in America is the Indian outsourcing industry. People do not understand it and do not know what it is all about. The only thing they say is that: they pick our job and this is bad. The only thing that they forget is probably that the Canada, specially the Quebec, is the #1 outsourcing country for the United-States (with the IT industry at least). So, it is what I will write about in the next few months on this blog: Who is the emerging middle class? How is it possible? How the IT (outsourcing) industry works? How do they manage their people (in relation with their multiple languages, religions, casts, etc)?

So, I hope that you will like what I will have to write about in the next few months.

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The slow and powerful process of creation

I am probably reading one of my best book in the last years. “If you want to write – a book about Art, independence and Spirit” by Brenda Ueland.

Praise to art, creativity, imagination, life, works, and self. I have been astonished to read what is her way to create, to incubate ideas, to think without thinking about ideas that are true and imaginative:

“In the same way what you write today you thought and created in some idle time on another day. It is another day that your ideas and visions are slowly built up, so that when you take your pencil there is something to say[foot note] that is not just superficial and automatic, like children yelling at a birthday party, but it is true and has been tested inwardly and is based on something.

[foot note] Though remember this: you may not be conscious, when you sit down, of having evolved something important to say. You will sit down as mentally blank, godnatured and smiling as usual, and not frowning solemnly over the weight of your message. Just the same, when you begin to write, presently something will come out, something true and interesting.”

It is the exact process I used to create Talk Digger. It is the exact process I am using to create the next generation of Talk Digger; that will be release in the next 3 months. I know, since some years, that it is the way my mind works, it is the way I can create things and find solutions to my problems. I let the flow of information get into my mind, then I incubate it for weeks, months, even years and somewhere in the future, I know that a seed idea will pop-up in my mind and that that seed idea will flourish in something true, imaginative and useful (at least for me). The seed idea was the alpha version of Talk Digger (in fact I wrote Beta, but it wasn’t, my unconsciousness probably knew that it wasn’t, but my consciousness thought it was a beta version because he didn’t know what was coming); now the real Beta version is coming… something new, something true, and something imaginative (at least for me).

Thinkers, doers, taking risks and creating your future

Once opun a time, a young boy sent a letter to Peter F. Drucker to ask him a simple question:

“Mr. Drucker, how can I create something that will change the world?”

The answer of Mr. Drucker was as simple:

“Young boy: by thinking about something that would help people; and by doing it.”

There are thinkers, and there are doers. Thinking is great, many people have great ideas to change the, or their, world; but what these ideas worth if nobody is doing them?

If you have an idea to change the World, or an idea to change your world, the only person that can make it happen is yourself. You have to do it to make it happen: this is the only way. People can help you, sure, but the only person that can archive it is the idea’s originator, the person that has it and believes in it.

Doing something also bring risks. All actions have his lot of risks. Any action you undertake can lead to a success or a failure. The risks that you take are that the actions undertook failed.

Personally I see failure as an essential part of learning. I fail therefore I learn. It is probably why I take risks and that I can live with my failures: because I know that I learned from taking these risks, doing these actions, and failing in some way.

However, is because you do not take risks that you do not fail?

“People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.
– Peter F. Drucker

Taking risks, doing actions, succeeding or failing, will inevitably change your future. However, what this future will be? What it could be? Will it be better or worse than your current situation? Will you be happier or not?

“The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.”
– Peter F. Drucker

Personally I believe in something: if I take risks, if I make decisions, if I do actions, and if I succeed or I fail, I do it for one thing: to try to predict the future to make me liking my life.

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
– Peter F. Drucker

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
– Steve Jobs

Finally, you have to do it for yourself; you have to get rid of the social pressure that could urge you to do what everybody else does. Live your own life, not the one of your society, your neighborhood, your friends, your family or parents wants you to have.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. ”
– Steve Jobs

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Go big, vision, and actions: Change the World

If everything goes fine, everybody have between 60 to 100 years to spend on this planet. What people will do with that time will depends on their personality, their goals, their environment, etc. A fact persist, we will all do something with it (even if you sit on a chair during 100 years you are doing something: sitting).

From school to business startup, from the poorer to the richer neighborhood, everybody can have the same attitude: Go Big, Have a Vision, Take Actions, and try to Change your world or even The World.

Why thinking small when we can think big? I mean, this is just thinking, everybody can think, this is a question of mind-shift and focus. If we have the biggest vision and the biggest goal to drive our life, we will also try to do the actions to reach these goals. Our vision will drive our actions to reach our goals.

It is sure that it is not easy to live like that, but why don’t we try? Why everybody is not trying? It is sure that a really, really small percentage of people will reach their Big Goal, but I think that everybody that try the experience will earn something by doing it.

Chris Sacca had done a good speech at the Startup School, some weeks ago, at Harvard. He discussed of Google, how the company works, what is the life at Google, etc. However, a good part of his speech focused on how Larry Page and Sergey Brin started Google (from a couple of borrowed computers at Stanford to a multi-billionaire business).

They had a Vision: Go Big!
They had a Goal: Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
They Take Actions: spend many sleepless night to create the first prototype of Google in a dusty sleeping room.

They think Big:

[World’s best engineer]–[Biggest infrastructure]–[Big problems to solve]

These guys where probably saw as geeks, hackers, and psychologically unbalanced by their entourage (it’s a guest, I have no idea if it is true). They thought big, they tried to solve the biggest problem that afflict the information world they tried to do something, and they success.

Finally, why don’t we try that tactic too?

Reading: mind’s fuel

I have been really busy in the last weeks. In fact, it is since I started to develop Talk Digger. Once the design was finished, the only thing I had to do is to program it: a technical task that only take time. All my time was spent to develop it, debug it, and to finish some other pending contracts.

I like to read and I read a lot. I learned the power of reading over time. When I was child, I was like any other kids: reading is for others. I needed to work in a Library to start liking books, what they smell and look likes, to start to read. Since then, I buy and read at least a book per week: science-fiction, management, combative, psychology, polar, suspense, politic, anything.

The current fact is that I was not able to read that book in the last weeks. The way my mind think changed, my ideas and visions flowed differently. The mind is a muscle: the tasks you will perform will make it think differently. It is why an engineer will not think like a sociologist.

Now I need to take some time to read, read books and articles. I need to train my mind to think differently, to see thinks in another angle. That way I will be able to focus on problems with a new eye, to try to find new type of solutions to the current problems I try to resolve. I need to make a mind shift.

Some days ago, NewScientist published an article called “Most scientific papers are probably wrong”. Slashdot reported that a senior editor of a scientific journal says that scientists are already aware of this:

“When I read the literature, I’m not reading it to find proof like a textbook. I’m reading to get ideas. So even if something is wrong with the paper, if they have the kernel of a novel idea, that’s something to think about.”

All the vision in a single phrase: it is all about finding ideas. It is exactly why I like to read science-fiction books: because it is a way to find new ideas. When reading, you mind think about all the stuff you read and try to correlate it with the other knowledge you have. This correlation will let new ideas, related or not with what you are reading, emerge. This is the exact reason why science-fiction books are so important in my creative process: this is an entertaining way to find new ideas, to train me brain differently.

Let begin that new training program with a book called “Grammatical Man, information, entropy, language and life” by Jeremy Campbell

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