This book, written by Jonah Lehrer, is about different ways in which humans imagine and create new things. I stumbled on this book accidentally and since it sounded interesting, I would up reading all of it.
Perhaps the best parts of the book are the stories of how various people came up with new ideas. For example, the first chapter, called “Bob Dylan’s Brain”, talks about how Dylan came up with the song “Like A Rolling Stone”. It was one of those lyrics that spewed out of his brain nearly whole, while he seemed to be a witness just writing it down.
This story leads to a discussion of the role of unconsciousness/right brain in generation of new ideas. In many cases, the unconscious does the work “playing” with ideas and pops the right answer at an unexpected time. One of the reasons that we often have new ideas while taking their morning shower, is that the while not fully awake the idea from the unconscious mind bubble up more easily, before full consciousness takes control.
In another section of the book the author talks about how groups of people work together to come up with new ideas. According to him (and various studies) best ideas in a group occur when the members of the group are not inhibited to express new ideas, but are also willing to accept and give severe criticism. Groups, whose members are not threatened by such criticism are more likely to come up with better ideas.
The author describes some of the group interaction at Pixar – where new ideas and criticism was encouraged. In addition, at Pixar, the office was designed to encourage meetings between people from different areas of the company to encourage creative mixing. For Pixar this seems to have worked!
I enjoyed reading this book, although at times it became little repetitious in driving its point home.