Idea Hooks

  • Richard Hamming said that looking at the same (ideally big, first principle like) ideas from multiple perspectives can create "hooks" to which other concepts can latch onto, creating new ideas

Papert's Principle: Some of the most crucial steps in mental growth are based not simply on acquiring new skills, but on acquiring new administrative ways to use what one already knows

— Marvin Minsky - The Society of Mind

  • here, the Papert's Principle is quite similar - it's not always about new knowledge, but about recombining what one already knows

Richard Feynman was fond of giving the following advice on how to be a genius. You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear or read a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, and people will say: "How did he do it? He must be a genius!"

  • capturing idea hooks makes it easy to apply the Feynman approach of solving important problems

my formula: get interested in something and get really deep. Find something else to apply it to. Allow yourself to dabble and tinker. You've got to have the right amount of reagents

Jeff Linnell

  • framing "hooks" as "reagents" that one should have a bunch of
  • in The Act of Creation Arthur Koestler writes about a monkey playing with a stick for no apparent reason, and then, when a banana is placed outside the cage, suddenly realising ("bisociating") that the stick can be used to move objects - Richard Hamming would probably say that the monkey was forming some kind of Idea Hook
  • Richard Hamming also advocates for creating Idea Hooks
    • I'm curious of the role of memory in ideation - the more ideas we want to be able to recombine, the more we should remember, so this might be point in case for using some SRS
    • on the other hand, Alan Kay talks about "forgetting" and leaving only the "scent"
Szymon Kaliski © 2021