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How Mobile Devices Kill Your Creativity

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the unless-flinging-birds-at-pigs-occupies-all-your-brainpower dept.

Cellphones 126

FuzzNugget writes "ReadWrite has posted a thought-provoking piece on how mobile devices killing our boredom may also be killing our creativity. Quoting: 'Numerous studies and much accepted wisdom suggest that time spent doing nothing, being bored, is beneficial for sparking and sustaining creativity. With our iPhone in hand — or any smartphone, really — our minds, always engaged, always fixed on that tiny screen, may simply never get bored. And our creativity suffers. ... For example, psychology professor Gary Marcus distinguishes between the two primary types of pursuits we use to defeat boredom. "Boredom is the brain's way to tell you you should be doing something else. But the brain doesn't always know the most appropriate thing to do. If you're bored and use that energy to play guitar and cook, it will make you happy. But if you watch TV, it may make you happy in the short term, but not in the long term." So much of what we do on our smartphones, however, is decidedly short-term: a few moments playing a game while we stand in line, a minute to scan Instagram as the person in front of us at the grocery store pulls out their checkbook. ' Of course, you'll probably be reading this on a smartphone."

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And this is why /. doesn't get art (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43320463)

QED

Re:And this is why /. doesn't get art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43322099)

Slashdot doesn't get art because back when slashdot got art, it got penisbird.

"TV [...] it may make you happy in the short term" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43320471)

Same with anything else, including playing guitar and cooking. Not everyone likes to cook or play guitar, and not everyone will obtain the same amount of happiness from doing any one event. How silly.

Re:"TV [...] it may make you happy in the short te (3, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320547)

Don't be so ridiculously literal ... replace cooking or guitar with whatever floats your boat.

Re:"TV [...] it may make you happy in the short te (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43320579)

If I had a boat, it would be floated by "water". (Perhaps "fresh" or perhaps "salt", but water nonetheless). So should I put water on the guitar or just try to play water instead of the guitar? Because frankly I don't think that will work unless I freeze the water first. So maybe you mean I should replace the guitar and cooking with carving ice sculptures? They can float my boat after they melt.

Re:"TV [...] it may make you happy in the short te (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321175)

If I had a boat, it would be floated by "water". (Perhaps "fresh" or perhaps "salt", but water nonetheless). So should I put water on the guitar or just try to play water instead of the guitar? Because frankly I don't think that will work unless I freeze the water first. So maybe you mean I should replace the guitar and cooking with carving ice sculptures? They can float my boat after they melt.

In your case, I think it would be more appropriate to replace the water with a fairly strong antipsychotic.

Re:"TV [...] it may make you happy in the short te (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#43323143)

So should I put water on the guitar

If it's an electric one I think you should.

Re:"TV [...] it may make you happy in the short te (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43320589)

That wasn't the point. The point is that just about any hobby you have will only make you happy in the short-term, and that applies to far more activities than just watching television and using a smartphone. What makes you happy and how long it makes you happy isn't set in stone, so I find statements such as that very silly.

Re:"TV [...] it may make you happy in the short te (3, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320727)

The point is that just about any hobby you have will only make you happy in the short-term

What? The examples given provide lasting value. Things like watching TV and playing games are generally more limited in scope.

You're flipping things around. Most any hobby will provide happiness on the short term, but not all will provide happiness in the long term. The idea here is that the ones that provide both short and long term happiness are better than the ones that merely provide for the short term.

Re:"TV [...] it may make you happy in the short te (4, Insightful)

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321153)

The point is that just about any hobby you have will only make you happy in the short-term

What? The examples given provide lasting value. Things like watching TV and playing games are generally more limited in scope.

You're flipping things around. Most any hobby will provide happiness on the short term, but not all will provide happiness in the long term. The idea here is that the ones that provide both short and long term happiness are better than the ones that merely provide for the short term.

I've known lots of people who played a musical instrument for a few years, and then it just collects dust in the corner. It doesn't provide any long term happiness necessarily.

If you claim that active hobbies have greater than chances of providing you with long term happiness than passive term hobbies, you might be on to something - because they are active, they can be followed on for many years, instead of at the whim of the source.

Reading, for example, has provided me with many years of happiness, and I expect it will continue to do so. Is reading any different from watching a TV show? Not really. It is still a passive activity - though I have a greater choice in books (though it is slowly changing, since I am not restricted in watching what passes for entertainment in my part of the world). Now, reading might involve imagination (like a kid who imagines himself as a Knight), but it doesn't have to.

Lasting happiness is a very strange concept - you are happy doing something now. I doubt I'd get much happiness remembering the violin I played as a kid, or the scuba diving trip I took a few years ago, or the TV show I saw a decade ago.

reading = LOGO while watching = PAN (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43321307)

Lots of difference between reading and watching, In both cases we "see" events. What you see is what you get like a panther or bird. Pure sighted visuals overwhelm. But, the reader must manufacture those scenes from word associated meaning. Quite a human snark ... the reader creates! Lots different, eh hoser ...?

Re:"TV [...] it may make you happy in the short te (2)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about a year and a half ago | (#43322447)

The examples given provide lasting value.

Watching a television show might provide someone with lasting value (nice memories, for instance).

Re:"TV [...] it may make you happy in the short te (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43320685)

You should rethink your comment--Cooking and Guitar playing are two creative events.
In essence, you said don't do creative things to be creative.
Remember, Sherlock Homes played the violin to think up creative solutions.

Re:"TV [...] it may make you happy in the short te (2)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321693)

Conan Doyle might have had a bit more influence on Holmes's creativity than the violin playing.

Re:"TV [...] it may make you happy in the short te (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about a year and a half ago | (#43323395)

"Conan Doyle might have had a bit more influence on Holmes's creativity than the violin playing."

True. And that's exactly what the article is about: that if Conan Doyle had had an ipad back in his day there probably wouldn't be any Sherlock Holmes.

Re:"TV [...] it may make you happy in the short te (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321051)

Don't be so ridiculously literal ... replace cooking or guitar with whatever floats your boat.

Of course cooking or guitar are already considered creative endeavors.

How is boredom defined? (3, Interesting)

six025 (714064) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320497)

It's perfectly possible to be "bored" while using an iPhone or iPad or whatever smart device you prefer.

I think point missed by this type of research is assuming that everyone is actively engaged by the device when idly surfing Facebook or Slashdot. In this situation the user may simply be waiting for inspiration to strike (when that happens is unpredictable, otherwise we'd milk it for all it's worth).

Obviously this doesn't apply to everyone in every situation, but to suggest that having access to smart phones is killing creativity is a bit of a stretch.

Peace,
Andy.

Re:How is boredom defined? (1)

anagama (611277) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320535)

Is inspiration more or less likely to strike if your mind is occupied? I wonder as I Tao this out on myphone while waiting for my lunch to be served.

Re:How is boredom defined? (2)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320653)

I don't know, let me think about it after this round of Fruit Ninja.

Re:How is boredom defined? (2)

six025 (714064) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320749)

Is inspiration more or less likely to strike if your mind is occupied?

The creative people I speak to (musicians, mostly) say that going for a walk outside is the best source of inspiration, closely followed by listening to songs by other people and I tend to agree with this.

If cooped up indoors, disengaging the mind is helpful but it takes some practice. Meditation works really well, but it can also be done by playing a simple game on a handheld device or mindlessly scrolling through the Facebook timeline.

Peace,
Andy.

Re:How is boredom defined? (4, Insightful)

Gorobei (127755) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321561)

Is inspiration more or less likely to strike if your mind is occupied?

The creative people I speak to (musicians, mostly) say that going for a walk outside is the best source of inspiration, closely followed by listening to songs by other people and I tend to agree with this.

If cooped up indoors, disengaging the mind is helpful but it takes some practice. Meditation works really well, but it can also be done by playing a simple game on a handheld device or mindlessly scrolling through the Facebook timeline.

Peace,
Andy.

I've not sure you understand what the creative people are trying to say. Inspiration is not some Greek God blessing bestowed randomly on creative people because they are walking in the sun. Every good "inspiration" is the result of hundreds of hours of thinking about something from lots of angles and exploring the various ramifications of the ideas you are generating. You can get this from lots of walks outside with your mind free to play with ideas, you don't get it from playing simple games that occupy your brain.

Talk to a musician or scientist: every "inspiration" is the end result of lots of precursor work. As the pieces start falling into place in your mind, you know you are going to get that breakthrough in a week, or a day, or a minute. It becomes so obvious you hardly need to think about it: "it's so beautiful it must be true" is common to music and physics and math.

Re:How is boredom defined? (1)

six025 (714064) | about a year and a half ago | (#43323737)

Talk to a musician or scientist: every "inspiration" is the end result of lots of precursor work

I never said anything about not requiring previous effort - someone who has never played an instrument or studied music is hardly going to be inspired to write a song, are they?

The main point is that disengaging the mind from the task for which inspiration is sought (be it a tricky development problem or writing a new song) will help, and that it's not necessarily a requirement to be away from all electronic devices. For example, you maybe using your smartphone or iPad or whatever to read a technical manual, when an apparently inconsequential piece of information helps everything fall in to place and you are then inspired to fix a previously difficult, unrelated problem.

If we're instead talking about people who only use smart phones and iPads and do so only for light entertainment, and are never bored enough to learn a new skill such as playing guitar, that's another story entirely and I agree it would be a problem - but I don't see that happening any more now than it did in the past. That is a motivational problem, rather than one of "boredom".

Peace,
Andy.

Re:How is boredom defined? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43320711)

You've missed the point. The point is your mind is engaged all the time. You may be bored with your phone but you are still engaged, you aren't daydreaming. So I'm not sure if creativity is being killed completely but it sure isn't being boosted.

no, not really. (2, Insightful)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320503)

I'm not the creative type. So, when I'm bored I read or go lounge by the pool. I doubt anyone, no matter how intelligent, will find the cure for cancer, or the solution to Europe's economic crisis by being bored.

Sure, some people will knit, others will do woodwork, but that's about it. Then again, time you enjoy wasting isn't time wasted.

I'd much rather see people kill time with a smartphone than go get high/drunk, etc.

And I'm typing this on a Nexus 10, you insensitive clod.

Spending the time making something (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320551)

Sure, some people will knit, others will do woodwork, but that's about it. Then again, time you enjoy wasting isn't time wasted.

But at least with knitting, woodwork, or the like, you have something to show for your time wasting afterward.

Re:Spending the time making something (4, Interesting)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320611)

Hanging out with friends doesn't leave you with anything to show for the time spent, but I doubt you'd find many people who would opt for knitting a scarf or building a shelf instead.

Not everything valuable can be held up and shown; not everything that can be held up and shown is valuable.

So true (5, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320719)

Some of the time I most value is time spent with my family, particularly my parents since they are aging and it isn't something I'm going to be able to do forever. I have nothing to show for it, I take home with me nothing but memories, and yet I value those memories highly.

I'll never understand the attitude I see online sometimes where people value only actually creating something, or accomplishing something. That as though if you aren't spending your time building something, fixing something, creating something, etc you are just useless.

On the contrary, I find that much of my time spent with non-tangible results to be of value. Even simple personal things. If I spend a weekend lazing around, playing video games, petting my kitty, sleeping in, and so on I have nothing to show for it. However I enjoy it, and I feel relaxed and happy, so how can you call that worthless?

It seems to me to be a rather empty existence if you define your worth by nothing but what you make. I'm not saying don't take pride in things you create, I know I do (well, when they are good at least) but if your definition of self is only in what you make, then what does that really say? What is the point? If personal happiness and enjoyment don't matter, then why bother? If they do matter, then why define them so narrowly to only include the tangible?

Re:So true (1)

jemmyw (624065) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321049)

I think this is the most insightful post I've read to date. Thanks.

Re:So true (3, Insightful)

crow5599 (994334) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321801)

It seems to me to be a rather empty existence if you define your worth by nothing but what you make [...] if your definition of self is only in what you make, then what does that really say? What is the point?

You get a measure of immortality. (If you're good enough at whatever it is you do, and enough people know about it or buy it.)

Re:So true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43322957)

So?

Re:So true (1)

fredgiblet (1063752) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321829)

I think some of it has to do with the competitive mindset that we have these days. The things we create are a sort of scorecard that we use to determine how valuable our lives have been with non-tangible things being much harder to score and much harder to assign a value to.

Re:So true (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43322187)

YOLO! [youtube.com]

My happiness is dependent on a sense of accomplishment you indolent clod!

Re:Spending the time making something (3, Insightful)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321137)

Hanging out with friends doesn't leave you with anything to show for the time spent

That phrase is not normally used so literally. Healthy, satisfying relationships ARE something you can show for your effort.

Re:Spending the time making something (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321299)

The person I responded to was using the phrase in the literal sense. Knitting and woodworking leave you with something physical that you can show as a result of your effort. You can't show a good relationship the same way. It's not a material object that you can hold up for others to see.

Re:Spending the time making something (1)

RobbieCrash (834439) | about a year and a half ago | (#43322749)

Not all that glitters is gold.

Re:Spending the time making something (1)

GrumpySteen (1250194) | about a year and a half ago | (#43323715)

True. Sometimes it's a drag queen who overdid the glitter.

Re:Spending the time making something (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321425)

But ... but I got this sword out of the dungeon of doom. Ain't that something to show for my time wasted?

Re:no, not really. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43320743)

And I'm typing this on a Nexus 10, you insensitive clod.

No you're not. You're touching it. Frankly I'm not sure that is appropriate for the maturity level of our audience!

Create something using a device while commuting (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320515)

If you're bored and use that energy to play guitar and cook, it will make you happy. But if you watch TV, it may make you happy in the short term, but not in the long term.

One difference is that I can actually create something using a laptop or mobile device while away from home. For example, I have a 10" laptop on which I code Python programs as a hobby while riding a bus to and from work. I can't very well play the guitar or cook in such a situation.

Re:Create something using a device while commuting (1)

j-beda (85386) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320739)

If you're bored and use that energy to play guitar and cook, it will make you happy. But if you watch TV, it may make you happy in the short term, but not in the long term.

One difference is that I can actually create something using a laptop or mobile device while away from home. For example, I have a 10" laptop on which I code Python programs as a hobby while riding a bus to and from work. I can't very well play the guitar or cook in such a situation.

You're just not being creative enough! A hibachi would easily fit on the bus....

Re:Create something using a device while commuting (1)

allo (1728082) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320803)

a laptop is fine, you can code python on it. But coding python on a tablet is no fun.

Re:Create something using a device while commuting (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321073)

If you're bored and use that energy to play guitar and cook, it will make you happy. But if you watch TV, it may make you happy in the short term, but not in the long term.

One difference is that I can actually create something using a laptop or mobile device while away from home. For example, I have a 10" laptop on which I code Python programs as a hobby while riding a bus to and from work. I can't very well play the guitar or cook in such a situation.

But then you are actually using your 10" laptop for something other than what the study is talking about. Unless, you code Python only when you are bored, that is.

Was this post designed to inspire creativity? (5, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320517)

I think maybe it was - I know I got bored about 1/3 way through the summary.

Re:Was this post designed to inspire creativity? (1)

subzero2008 (1338383) | about a year and a half ago | (#43324459)

I think maybe it was - I know I got bored about 1/3 way through the summary.

you reached 1/3 ? - i read just what was on the first screen of my mobile phone.

All the time I waste.... (2)

n3tm0nk (2725243) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320543)

sitting on the commode. Used to be a great place to think, now I just play tetris the whole time.......

Re:All the time I waste.... (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320789)

sitting on the commode. Used to be a great place to think, now I just play tetris the whole time.......

You need to have balance in all things in life, too much of anything is no good for you. Whether it's drinking/drug use, smoking, cellphone/ internet/ tv, hobby (even some people) or anything that takes over an otherwise normal life. If you can't walk away from something for an extended period of time without going through anxiety, you might want to consider the possibility that you have an "addiction problem" with them. When something takes you over and becomes a 'need', or an obssession, it might be time you put it down for a while.

"Roland the gunslinger" is a character in Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" book series. He has a line that has always stuck with me in my life. It's from a part of the story when he's journeying through "The Wastelands", a desolate part of his world. He's smoking a tobacco cigarette, and tobacco's a very scarce commodity in 'The Wastelands'. Another fellow traveler asks him for some of his tobacco, and the gunslinger gives him half of what he has left, saying,...

"When a man can't share his addictions, it's time he gave them up."

(BTW, you really shouldn't spend too much time on the john, good way to get a thrombusted hemmoroid, not good. The phrase "Sh*t or get off the pot" gets it's origin from this.)

Angry birds or iTunesU (5, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320573)

I have TTC courses, Coursera Courses, and iTunesU courses on my iPhone/iPad. So in my downtime I have learned discrete math/cryptography among others and am presently plowing through a great Coursera course in Computational Investing. I also have Algebra Touch on my iPhone and hand it to my younger daughter when we are stuck waiting. For both of my daughters I have TTC math on the iPad to hand to them when bored (some bribery involved).

So I would not say that Mobile devices are inherently bad but that many people use them to peruse the junk food isle. I go to the grocery store an my cart is devoid of palm oil or HFCS. Often I see other people's carts full of products containing both. We are shopping in the same store.

Re:Angry birds or iTunesU (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43320697)

I've tried a few of the courses available on itunes - they're all sooo boring that I never get very far.

I guess that means I'm really creative right?

Re:Angry birds or iTunesU (3)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321103)

I don't think you are the typical user the article was refering to. Just like you are not the typical consumer at your local grocery store.

it is not all about I (0)

markdavis (642305) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320597)

>"With our iPhone in hand â" or any smartphone, really "

Oh really? Thanks for the concession! So there is nothing super magical about the iPhone then??? Just... wow!

Re:it is not all about I (1)

miroku000 (2791465) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320677)

>"With our iPhone in hand â" or any smartphone, really "

Oh really? Thanks for the concession! So there is nothing super magical about the iPhone then??? Just... wow!

There is totally a difference! iPhone users worry that they are losing their creativity.

Play guitar and cook? (2, Funny)

edremy (36408) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320623)

You know, I like to both cook and play guitar, but I really don't think they work well together. An alfredo sauce covered pickup is a terrible thing and I'm pretty sure it's not good for the strings to use them as cheese knives.

Re:Play guitar and cook? (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321453)

Well, you never know, you might create just THE next big thing in music with the sound they produce.

After I heard some Dubstep, I don't doubt that in the slightest anymore.

Re:Play guitar and cook? (1)

DKlineburg (1074921) | about a year and a half ago | (#43323049)

you have that backwards, it is the produce that the sound will make. Just image a new kind of chord. It is like a Gourd, but sweater.

Is it someone creative saying this? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43320625)

Creativity depends in what medium you're working. If you're bored zoning out on the PC reading /., you may get an insight into how to change the design layout of your pet project while doing that. Doing things online doesn't spell a death to all boredom, far from it. There's also a limit how interesting on-line life can be, and the masses are quickly approaching that point as we speak.

My favourite is watching a movie alone while working on a project. Suddenly getting sparks of ideas and then seeing them unfold, pausing the movie while doing so. The most important thing is not to write down your idea, it is to IMPLEMENT IT THERE AND THEN. (Writing it down may catalog your idea for future reference, but implementing it right away provides even more insight and later discoveries while doing so). Today's technology makes prototyping even more simpler and accessible, so is bettering the chances even more of CATCHING THE IDEA.

As someone who has had years of creativity behind me, I'm finding this article bogus (of course I didn't read it!).
Each creative type has their own quirks and ways of tapping the source. And it is very much about getting in touch with yourself, your true interests and mission in life (yes, everyone has at least one mission - but most forget it through the painful / shameful conditionings of society).

The ABSOLUTELY WORST thing you can do to your mind however, is becoming a sceptic. It'll MURDER your ideas even before they get a chance to hatch, over and over again. Scepticism is a serial killer of great ideas!

Re:Is it someone creative saying this? (2)

mallyn (136041) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320687)

I also watch movies and listen to music while working on stuff. I have my workbench next to my computer with DVD drive. I put on a movie and then go at it.

I can do stuff such as saw metal, engrave glass, grind and polish gemstones; all while watching and listening to a movie.

I can generally get the plot line of a movie while listening; I don't have to keep my eyes glued to the screen all the time.

The one thing that I have yet to master (and give me time) is to sing and dance with Julie Andrews in the Sound Of Music while welding without burning my finger off :(

Re:Is it someone creative saying this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43320827)

Speaking of creativity, there's this /. bug now repeating the last text of both our comments. Those are the kind of sparks that can solve your problem then and there, letting you explore a totally new avenue and/or exploring deeper into discoveries.

However, of course, it can't be forced. If one try to intellectually force anything in order to achieve something, the real creativity is lost. But such subtle perceptions may be just the required spark to get the ol' engine running :)

For anyone who are trying and trying, to fit in somewhere or to achieve something, I'd say listen to your heart, your inner child. What makes you happy?
Money is not it, because it has no value. It'll have to be something you want to DO for enjoyment, something that intrigues your mind, interests you, challenges you.
Then go for it! It's allowed. It's real. It doesn't have to be perfect. You never know where it'll lead. Just go for it!

Great inner picture of someone welding their fingers while watching and singing and dancing to Julie Andrews. Good one! :-)

Captcha: generous (if you're that, you will have greater chance to experience success)

Re:Is it someone creative saying this? (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321883)

I also watch movies and listen to music while working on stuff. I have my workbench next to my computer with DVD drive. I put on a movie and then go at it.

I can do stuff such as saw metal, engrave glass, grind and polish gemstones; all while watching and listening to a movie.

Er, you have a box with rotating devices (fans, DVD drive) sitting close to tools whose purpose is to modify objects made of hard stone and metal by lopping off them????

Come to think of it, you saw metal next to an appliance where exposed conductors are all over the place inside?????

Re:Is it someone creative saying this? (1)

Azure Flash (2440904) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321081)

"The ABSOLUTELY WORST thing you can do to your mind however, is becoming a sceptic."

Hmm... I'm not so sure about that. I'm not convinced. If those ideas were so great, there would be no way to be sceptic about them, would there?

Re:Is it someone creative saying this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43321335)

Ok, that was just to enhance the point ;) Scepticism is great when used like salt, wisely and sparingly.
It is absolutely true for intuition and creativity though.
If you look back in history, the greatest ideas are indeed rejected time and time again until someone takes the energy and effort to develop them.

Captcha: sometime

Re:Is it someone creative saying this? (1)

Guido von Guido II (2712421) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321501)

If those ideas were so great, there would be no way to be sceptic about them, would there?

That's not how it works. There is always a way to talk yourself out of an idea, good or not.

Re:Is it someone creative saying this? (1)

Tapewolf (1639955) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321239)

The most important thing is not to write down your idea, it is to IMPLEMENT IT THERE AND THEN. (Writing it down may catalog your idea for future reference, but implementing it right away provides even more insight and later discoveries while doing so). Today's technology makes prototyping even more simpler and accessible, so is bettering the chances even more of CATCHING THE IDEA.

I have often come up with melodies, chorus lines and the like on the way to work. With a smartphone or other pocket recording device I can whistle or sing them in the car-park or any other convenient point, and work them into something useful when I get home. I've had a couple of really good lines come that way - the first one of which I didn't have a recorder with me and lost it. I was able to remember parts of it a few days later but I never managed to get it as perfect as it had been. Two others would have been similarly lost if I had't been able to record them.

Each creative type has their own quirks and ways of tapping the source.

I think the weirdest one is when I've been playing Doom or Doom 2, and suddenly had harpsichord waltzes appear in my mind. On more than one occasion I've immediately quit the game so I could put the waltz into the sequencer as a bridge in whatever song I've been working on.

I use slashdot to kill time while my welding cools (1)

mallyn (136041) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320661)

Folks:

I am creative. I create artistic clothing and jewelry.

I also use slashdot.

Right now, I am welding together a necklace. I am on slashdot now because I have to let the welds cool down so that I can move the work and then weld another section. If I don't wait for the weld to cool down, I will burn my finger off. And that means 'ouch' and a trip to the emergency room.

So, I use slashdot to kill time until my weld cools off and I can move the work for my next weld.

Well, I guess it's cooled off enough now, so bye bye slashdot.

Re:I use slashdot to kill time while my welding co (1)

WillKemp (1338605) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320873)

Folks:

[......] I am on slashdot now because I have to let the welds cool down so that I can move the work and then weld another section. If I don't wait for the weld to cool down, I will burn my finger off. [......]

That sounds like a feeble excuse! Have you ever thought of using tongs?

Re:I use slashdot to kill time while my welding co (2)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321901)

Folks:

[......] I am on slashdot now because I have to let the welds cool down so that I can move the work and then weld another section. If I don't wait for the weld to cool down, I will burn my finger off. [......]

That sounds like a feeble excuse! Have you ever thought of using tongs?

Don't be silly. When I use tongs to type, half the words come out misspelled.

You can't bore people to brilliance. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43320771)

When I am bored and I go online, I look for things that match my particular interest. At that point, surely I am the most receptive to learn ... well, whatever it is. Being bored without the possibility of outside input can't possibly be better that being bored with the possibility of learning something interesting. Otherwise, why not just put students in locked classrooms and expect them to be creative?

And also the type of device used kills creativity (1)

allo (1728082) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320791)

Devices like tablets are in direct competition with notebooks and in some situations even PCs.
Now lets assume the typical slashdot poster, who is a hobby programmer.

If he's sitting at his pc, and surfs on the web, he may interrupt it to do some coding. maybe he's annoyed by something on a website and writes a userscript to change it, or he just gets an idea for a cool script and can instantly switch to a terminal and write it.

If he's surfing on his mobile device, he does not have a keyboard, and not even a system which does good multitasking (in the human sense, not in the multithreading sense). So if he's annoyed by something on a website, its likely, he just ignores it. Or maybe he tries to search for a userscript for his mobile browser, but its unlikely he starts writing one. And starting to program something more advanced on a touchscreen is even more unlikely.

You do not need to be a programmer, to have this problem. Mobile devices, which lack proper input like mouse and keyboard are designed for consumption, they are not designed to create something.

Obligatory XKCD (4, Insightful)

lobiusmoop (305328) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320801)

Addiction [xkcd.com]

Obligatory Chris Mercogliano (2)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43324657)

http://books.google.com/books/about/In_Defense_of_Childhood.html?id=hO9dPgAACAAJ [google.com]
"The pressures of modern life are increasingly squeezing the adventure, the wonder, the physicality -- the juice -- out of children's lives. Virtually every arena of kids' experience is now subject to some form of outside control, and this is a serious threat to the unique spark that animates every child. Lamenting risk-averse parents, overstructured school days, and a lack of playtime and solitude, this book is a clear and compelling plea to save childhood."

The challenge of addiction will only get worse:
http://www.paulgraham.com/addiction.html [paulgraham.com]
http://www.amazon.com/Supernormal-Stimuli-Overran-Evolutionary-Purpose/dp/B0057DC3VY [amazon.com]
http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article16.aspx [drfuhrman.com]

Books (2, Informative)

WillKemp (1338605) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320853)

This is clearly nonsense. If it wasn't then the most successful authors would be the ones that never read books - and i'm certain that's not true.

I spent the last two and a half years driving insanely big trucks in a mine, which is mindlessly boring almost all the time. It certainly didn't make me any more creative, in fact it numbed my brain to the point where there was no more creativity left in me. Now i'm at university full time, my creativity's starting to recover. Stimulation, not boredom, is what fuels creativity.

Of the "studies" claimed by the article, one was carried out by a university and seems to have been fairly dubious - although there are no citations either in the article or in the article it refers to - and another was carried out by a mobile phone company and is nothing to do with boredom.That's it. The article linked to from the original article mentions "studies", but doesn't give any clues about what they are. So, as far as i can tell, the "studies" are a fantasy.

Re:Books (1)

multimediavt (965608) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321435)

Yes, I too noticed that the "studies" seemed to be poorly premised or nonexistent. If we're going to be relying on anecdotal evidence as "studies" then I can certainly counter them with same. Plenty of good data already in the comments, but I find that when I take a break with my smartphone or tablet as a distraction, it certainly doesn't stifle my creativity. In fact, I find that most of the time I'm distracted I am actually rolling one or two ideas around in my head, or I will trigger or discover something while being distracted. I guess it might depend on your age, education, up bringing, and a host of other factors as to why your creativity might be stifled, but I would say monotony is a bigger enemy of creativity than distraction by smartphone or tablet, or any other device.

Re:Books (2)

WillKemp (1338605) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321539)

I doubt age is a factor as such - although familiarity and comfortableness with technology might play a part in it. (I'm 54 and i've been working with computers on and off for over 30 years, so i'm not sure where that puts me!) But i think it helps to have something to distract your conscious mind while your unconscious churns away creatively.

I think procrastination is an essential part of the sort of creativity that has a deadline, for instance - so long as it doesn't get out of hand! In particular, i'm talking about writing things, but being distracted by Slashdot or Facebook. While you're apparently procrastinating, your brain is in fact processing the task that needs to be accomplished. For some people, at least, a reasonable amount of time spent procrastinating probably produces better results than just diving in and doing the job. A study on that would be interesting!

checkbook.. (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#43320871)

How quaint...

Re:checkbook.. (1)

fredgiblet (1063752) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321847)

I wrote my first check EVER last month at the age of 27.

Re:checkbook.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43322725)

I wrote my first cheque ever at the age of 25 - in 1999.

So what?

Re:checkbook.. (1)

WillKemp (1338605) | about a year and a half ago | (#43323099)

I wrote my first cheque ever sometime in the mid 1970s, aged in my teens. I haven't written a cheque for nearly 30 years.

Funnily enough... (1)

klingers48 (968406) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321007)

I'd say that the argument about mobile devices killing creativity is completely individual and subjective. In my case, finding the right combination of fantastic painting apps on the iPad, and the critically important discovery of a brilliant fine-point capacitive stylus (The Jot Pro from Adonit) has reignited the inner artist in this heavily left-brained person for the first time in years. I've been back at cartooning with real and immediate digital feedback as to what I'm drawing in the palm of my hand, and I love it.

Re:Funnily enough... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43321455)

Err, what's a "funnily"?

not bored? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321009)

Trust me, mobile devices do not eliminate boredom.

Plus, the notion that creativity requires boredom misses the mark. Creativity requires idleness, not boredom. Just because you are surrounded by a vast choice of devices and media does not mean you can't take a few minutes to sit quietly and/or meditate.

Try this experiment: Start taking 10 minutes every day to sit quietly. Put your feet flat on the ground, rest your hands in your lap, sit up nice and straight (but comfortably) and just breathe. Count your breaths if you have trouble quieting your mind. Do it every day and don't miss any days. If it's boring, don't worry, because your brain's reaction to what you think is boredom is part of the mechanism that's going to bring the benefit. If you get fidgety, anxious, just keep watching your breath and be patient.

The benefits will surprise you.

There are lots of systems for meditation. But if such systems put you off, you can still enjoy the benefits just by sitting (or standing, or lying down, but the idea is NOT to fall asleep). Just relax.

Once you see the benefits, you'll never be "bored" again.

Re:not bored? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321465)

Meditation. It sure beats sitting 'round doing nothing.

(sorry, I just couldn't resist)

Re:not bored? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43323101)

I want a sensory deprivation water chamber.

Re:not bored? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43323653)

I want a sensory deprivation water chamber.

Nah, I don't think you need all that hassle.

The beauty of meditation is that it requires no equipment, no special clothing. Just a few minutes time and what you were born with. You can get to the same place an immersion tank will take you and you don't need an expensive tank or towel. And your fingers and piggies won't get all wrinkled.

Feels right (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43321055)

Like all generalisations, people will find exceptions. However, for me, I can see it. I program. A lot of it is innovative (ie: not currently done) UI design, along with backing algorithms and data systems. I'm finding my most productive *creative* time to be during my daily 10k runs or when I'm walking the dog. That being said, I also spend a lot of time gathering data (reading, web surfing, chatting with people) that provides the raw material for those creative moments.

I suspect there is a balance, and it's a bit different, depending on the person and what they're doing.

Honestly, I have been finding the fact that when I pull into a train station or ferry warf, everyone is staring down at their phone, like it's some sort of weird mind-control device. It's creepy. And it somehow feels rude to be ignoring the human beings around you. But maybe not. Still, I'm making it a point to NOT stare at my mobile device unless I *really* have something to do (online study, reading a book, working). And no more "web fact checking" in the middle of a discussion with others.

Re:Feels right (1)

Geeky (90998) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321191)

I agree, long walks and cycling are where I do most of my creative thinking. The activity requires little mental effort and gives me time to let my mind wander. Running is different - I only took it up recently, and I'm still at the point where all of my mental effort has to go into breathing and keeping going (and 5K is my current limit). Even that is great, though, as it's the only time I'm completely switched off from other thoughts other than when I'm asleep, so I think it helps to clear my mind.

Creative people don't work in a vacuum. (1)

nEoN nOoDlE (27594) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321235)

I work in a creative field (animation and film) and for me the smart phone inspires tons of creativity. Look at all of the amazing apps and games that creative people are doing in this new medium that wouldn't have happened if the developers weren't addicted to their smart phones.

People sitting alone in their living room and being bored doesn't inspire creativity. Creativity is inspired when people surround themselves with other creative ideas and people, and with smart phones, creative ideas and people are closer than ever, right at your fingertips..

Boring people will continue to be bored and uncreative, but creative people will find inspiration in everything, especially in new technologies like mobile devices.

Re:Creative people don't work in a vacuum. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43321377)

Exactly.

Case in point: http://www.mikeisgod.com/videos/cake-farts

You know you want to.

Want to help your creativity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43321485)

There's an app for that [apple.com]

subject (1)

Legion303 (97901) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321559)

Dude writes a blog post about a study that was covered on Slashdot already, gets blog post posted to Slashdot. Story still as boring as it was the first time.

does it matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43321625)

Does it really matter? Most peoples' creations are shit anyway.

Plausible (1)

gweihir (88907) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321673)

That is why I have not had a smart-phone so far (but I always carry pen&paper to note down ideas). As I cannot avid the smart-phone anymore, I have selected the minimal data-plan for calendar and email and slow (no fun) web-surfing only, so hopefully it remains a tool to be used only when necessary. Of course the mobile providers want you to game and surf as much as possible so they can make as much profit off you as possible.

It is better to keep it in your pocket... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43321733)

I make a conscious effort to avoid my smart phone when eating alone, riding the bus, waiting for an interview, etc. I hope that in doing so, I can be more efficient and productive (for my brain that is;for those who use their phones for business 24/7, I don't have an answer for you yet) ; instead of being on the phone, I can instead read, talk to strangers, experience my surroundings. Develop my curiosity into something worthwhile and entertaining in the long run.

Shallow attention span (5, Insightful)

Required Snark (1702878) | about a year and a half ago | (#43321997)

One conditioned response to pervasive electronic stimulation is a shallow attention span. There has been some published research in this area, but I can't find it right now,

Attention span is the ability to concentrate on a subject for an extended period of time. If you are only able to concentrate when there is continuous external stimulation, it's shallow concentration. This is the difference between reading a book and playing a first person shooter video game. In the video game you are continually reacting. Reading requires mentally retaining the subject matter as you read, and relating what you are reading now to previous material. One is externally organized, the other is internally organized.

Obviously, it's possible to read an ebook on a smart phone, so the device itself is not intrinsically in one mode or the other. This is why so many of the previous posts point to creative activity enabled by electronics.

Having the ability to maintain internal concentration is a learned skill. The problem with pervasive electronics is that chronic users substitute external stimulation for internal concentration. They don't know how to concentrate on their own.

This is ultimately a deficit. It's why people do really stupid things like texting while driving. There are some activities that demand a high degree of internal concentration, like doing mathematics, coding, or surgery. I guarantee that you don't want someone cutting you open who suddenly starts texting about the procedure, or a judge who is not paying attention to the trail proceeding because they are playing a game with the cellphone in their lap.

Shower (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year and a half ago | (#43322213)

Fortunately, mobile devices are not water-proof yet, hence the shower remains a time when people mind is left to wandering.

I know I'm an edge case... (1)

Ira Sponsible (713467) | about a year and a half ago | (#43322233)

My mobile devices have actually contributed to my creativity. I'm a writer, and I've come to depend on my mobile devices quite a lot to, well, write. From my first palm Zire to my current Motorola Flipout, I've depended on my mobile devices to write and edit my various stories. The internet connected devices have also been tremendously handy to do quick research on the various subjects relevant to my writing. In each of the boredom cases listed in the article, I'm much more likely to be continuing whatever current story I'm working on or doing research directly related to it. Before my mobile devices, I had to use a notebook if I wanted to get some writing done away from the computer. Obviously, that was quite a lot less convenient than a handy gizmo that fits comfortably in my pocket and is easier to read than the nigh-indecipherable scribble of my handwriting. So you'll see me standing in line between the guy texting his girlfriend and the girl giggling at the latest grumpy cat picture while I'm actually doing something worthwhile, and creative.

If you're curious, my first completed, published novel, which was written entirely on mobile devices, is available here:
Amazon Trade Paperback [amazon.com] (Createspace pays me better, but it's still Amazon [createspace.com] ),
Lulu epub [lulu.com] , Kindle [amazon.com] , Nook [barnesandnoble.com] , and iBooks [apple.com] .
It's also free in its entirety on wattpad [wattpad.com] . I've actually gotten sales from people who started reading it here.

Creativity pfft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43322613)

who wants it. Bored people try to get first post on slashdot.

Boredom will never die. (1)

Rational (1990) | about a year and a half ago | (#43323309)

Not as long as trite, tired Luddite bullshit like this gets published, at least.

dupe? (1)

leaen (987954) | about a year and a half ago | (#43323445)

I remember that same post was at slashdot few months ago. I do not remember exact wording, google just shows links to ths article.

Playing games on your mobile is not all that bad (1)

subzero2008 (1338383) | about a year and a half ago | (#43324437)

Killing creativity ? maybe - but also exercising your brain - instead of standing in line - staring at the wall or gossiping - playing a game is a better way to stimulate the brain - and help prevent/avoid diseases like Alzheimer's (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2012/01/23/brain-games-may-help-thwart-alzheimers-study/)

Edward Frankel's Calculus lectures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43324639)

I got bored and started watching Edward Frankel's calculus lectures. Is that proof for or against the point being made here?

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