June 27, 2008 by Colin
… and most of you know you aren’t deep thinkers. Come on, admit it.
If you can spin through your feed reader inside of 30 minutes, how little time are you leaving for thoughts to sit, fester and grow?
What about variety? Are the details of your work consuming 480 minutes of the day, and your the reverb from your online echo chamber consuming the rest?
Where’s the inspiration coming from? How are ideas breaking through the noise to challenge your routine behaviour and instinctive judgement?
Are you learning new strokes and exploring new beaches, or are you simply treading water in the same stagnant pool?
Susan S. Szenasy, the editor of Metropolis, spoke to the need for intellectual curiosity while delivering a commencement address this spring:
“… As artists and communication designers you can choose to be the outriders of society. Like the scouts in the old western films, you can be in the position of surveying the horizon and alerting the rest of us to the dangers and surprises ahead. But I worry about you. I worry that while you have evolved the use of your thumbs to work at phenomenal speeds, you are not as interested in developing the habits you need to accumulate knowledge, knowledge that can inform your vision as artists. I mean knowledge of the world—science, literature, and history—knowledge of the great contributions others are making or have made to our rich understanding of humanity and the earth which gives us life.
It is not enough to find information instantly and use it opportunistically to support your argument. To be able to analyze and synthesize you need to delve deeply into a subject, build up your understanding incrementally, and own that knowledge. Own it, so you can call it up when you need it, without turning to your PDA, and use your amazing brain-power to interpret what you know when critical analysis is needed. What I’m asking of you is what I have always asked of myself: To be endlessly curious about everything, to search for facts when you need them, but more importantly, to search for ideas and meaning. Read a book, look at a building or a landscape, drink it all in—make it your own …” (Metropolis Magazine)