Thursday, 7 January 2010

Above the clouds, innovation in a often uncreative world of imagination.

BaikUn and Mieum a area where a lot of interesting structures have been created. Very often things in SL are trying to look old or familiar, and probably that is best. We know how to use the old and familiar. But it is good to see innovative use of Second Life going on.

We tend to assume the words imagination and creativity are the same. We tend to think of imagination as by its nature creativity. But we should probably think these words out a bit more. Often what we imagine is not very creative. Hollywood pumps our imagination space full of uncreative products. The imaginative space is central to the way we think. But most of what we imagine is based on our fear and prejudice.

Take for example the Iraq war. The Iraq war was only possible because of what Americans imagined about Iraq, things that were neither very creative or true. A shared imagination feed by years of Hollywood movies and TV shows produced an image in the minds of most Americans that made going to war in Iraq seem rational.

The rest of humanity could see the dangers of it, but they did not share the imagination space of "Iraq" that Americans did. They had imaginations full of different things.

So imagination is actually the most powerful force in the world, for good or for evil. Mostly imagination is full of dull banal things. Most imagination is so banal and common we just assume it is reality. We assume we know all kinds of things about people we have never meet or places we have never been because we imagine them.

Creativity is a trait that imagination might have. Creativity is the ability to imagine new things, unusual things that are different from the common sense contents of imagination. Creativity in imagination is the first step of the process of creating new rational thinking. Before Freud or Bohr or Newton could make their concepts they needed to imagine them first and for these to be truly new ideas they needed that magic something we don't understand but call creativity.

As a sociologist I am trained to view all imagination as the product of the social discourse and structure of its day, and as a business man I seek rational predictable ways to make profit over a period of years with very large IT projects. But I understand what the gold is out their in the land of imagination: its creativity.

I fear that as the economy moves from an information economy to an imagination economy we will see Imagination even more colonised than it is today, that creativity will be pushed out by products. But I hope enough young people pursue art, literature and pure research to develop the creativity to keep humanity alive in trying times.

And that is probably the most complex thing I have ever had to say looking at a couple SIMS in Second Life.
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