Monthly Archives: July 2010

I’m In the Paper!

Hey, look who was in Sunday’s issue of the Huntsville Times.

(Glenn Baeske of The Huntsville Times took that picture.)

The article touches on the Hermes system that we’ve been developing to help helicopters automatically pick up cargo and then guide them to the delivery point, which has a lot of potential applications for everything from medical heliflights to logging to resupplying soldiers in the field. I wrote our original proposal for the project back in 2005, and now, five years later, it’s on the cusp of being a real honest-to-goodness product. A lot of very smart people have put in a tremendous amount of work to make that happen, and I’m thrilled to see it all coming together.

So that’s what I saw on Sunday! How was your weekend?

Creativity Crisis Solved with an Alien City

Newsweek’s article on the “creativity crisis” has been making the rounds lately. It fits the usual template of such stories: extrapolation of a trend leads to prognostications of vague gloom. In this case, it’s that US kids’ Creativity Quotient scores have been falling since the 1990s.

The article is talking about a specific flavor of creativity, namely the ability to generate a lot of ideas, pick out and combine the most promising ones, and then follow through on them. The article contrasts problem-solving-based education that can foster this kind of thinking with US schools’ focus on rote memorization and test taking, and does a good job of citing research into creativity.

The article is less persuasive when it trots out the usual bogeymen of TV and videogames. The best videogames, and games in general, give you a set of rules and invite you to then solve the problems creatively, the kind of creative problem-solving that the article calls for in schools. And as fanfic and other transformative works show, people will watch TV and incorporate their stories into their own. The article approvingly notes that creative kids often make their own alternate worlds to play in. Can you get the same benefit from in part populating your alternate worlds with elements borrowed from TV shows? After all, most kids at that age are synthesists, creating those worlds from pieces of whatever stories they’ve heard, whether those stories came from books or TV or their family.

Programs exist to foster creative problem-solving, including Dr. Torrance’s Future Problem Solving Program. I’ll be interested to see if Eli and Liza’s schools offer such programs. But at least for now, I’m not that worried about them.

4th of U2

We’re off for 4th of July celebrations, even if it is the 2nd. Here’s the song “4th of July” from U2 to get you in the holiday mood, assuming your holiday mood is fueled by trance-y instrumental pieces.