creativity

Boredom is Good; Speed Reading Not So Much

“I took a speed reading course and read ‘War and Peace’ in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.” ~Woody Allen

BOREDOM: What if boredom is a meaningful experience—one that propels us to states of deeper thoughtfulness or creativity? Boredom might spark creativity because a restless mind hungers for stimulation.

  • Bored subjects came up with more ideas than a nonbored control group, and their ideas were often more creative. Subjects who took an “associative thought” word test came up with more answers when they’d been forced to watch a dull screensaver.
  • The problem is that these days we don’t wrestle with these slow moments. We eliminate them. “We try to extinguish every moment of boredom in our lives with mobile devices.” This might relieve us temporarily, but it shuts down the deeper thinking that can come from staring down the doldrums.
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Credit: Wayne Miller/Magnum USA, 1955 

SPEED READING: Skilled readers know more about language, including many words and structures that occur in print but not in speech. They also have greater “background knowledge,” familiarity with the structure and content of what is being read. We acquire this information in the act of reading itself—not by training our eyes to rotate in opposite directions, playing brain exercise games, or breathing diaphragmatically. Just reading.

  • Boustrophedon (Ancient Greek method): Texts were written bidirectionally, left to right on one line, then right to left on the next. This method would seem to allow reading to proceed continuously, uninterrupted by line sweeps. Try it.
    Here we have a nice normal first line.
    .siht ekil nettirw eb dluoc enil txen ehT
  • Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP): A text is presented at a single location on a screen, one word (or sometimes a few) at a time. It was developed for research purposes in the 1960s. College students could read with RSVP at up to 700 words per minute with good comprehension, about triple their normal speeds. Alas, the experiments also found that subjects could only sustain reading at high speeds with good comprehension for short bursts.

Curated by CLAI
Courtesy of WIRED

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Better Handwriting Means More Creative? What Does 100 Years Old Feel Like?

Curated by CLAI

DOES HANDWRITING MATTER? Most states call for teaching legible writing, only in kindergarten and first grade. After that, the emphasis quickly shifts to proficiency on the keyboard. But children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write by hand, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information. In other words, it’s not just what we write that matters — but how.

  • When the children composed text by hand, they not only consistently produced more words more quickly than they did on a keyboard, but expressed more ideas.
  • When these children were asked to come up with ideas for a composition, the ones with better handwriting exhibited greater neural activation in areas associated with working memory — and increased overall activation in the reading and writing networks.
  • Students learn better when they take notes by hand than when they type on a keyboard.
  • For adults, typing may be a fast and efficient alternative to longhand, but that very efficiency may diminish our ability to process new information.
What stage in life do you remember most fondly?

What stage in life do you remember most fondly? (Source: United Healthcare)

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A CENTENARIAN: Only 3% said they were lonely, sad or burdened. They remember their 30s most fondly. And feel like they’re only 83 …

2 Drinks for Thought

Curated by CLAI

Mini glass of beer at Beer Bazaar in Tel Aviv, Israel

Mini glass of beer at Beer Bazaar in Tel Aviv, Israel (Credits: Christine Lai)

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw, Playwright

  • BEER-WINE FUSION? The Red Hen DC sommelier and DC Brau blend a chocolatey porter ale with a touch of Bordeaux. Dogfish Head makes a Nordic grog that blends beer, fruit wine and mead. Yes or no? (NPR)
  • COCA-COLA GLASS was introduced by Riedel, the 250-year old renowned Austrian wine glass maker – its first for a non-alcoholic drink. “We fine tuned our Sauvignon Blanc glass seemed best, so we fine-tuned that bowl shape to form the glass.” Selling for $29 for two, $19 for one. (NYTIMES)