Where Do Ideas Come From?
  • change of surroundings - "buy a ticket to get new thoughts" (Mark McGranaghan)
  • working with half-formed thoughts (meta - this note)
  • building is a part of the puzzle, another one is reflecting back
  • creative constraints, like working within research themes
  • reforming reference materials

    (...) ideas aren't summoned from nowhere: they come from raw material, other ideas or observations about the world. Hence a two-step creative process: collect raw material, then think about it. From this process comes pattern recognition and eventually the insights that form the basis of novel ideas.


  • doodling? - mind-wandering
  • doing your own thinking
  • Nothing is original.
  • Everything is a remix.
  • Creatio ex nihilo is a myth.
  • Originality is a romantic idea.


I've advocated "learn everything and then forget it except for the perfume". This can create a mental space for thinking which will inescapably be helped by what we know - it's really hard to completely forget! - but in which what we know (mostly meaning what we believe!) is far enough away to allow us to feel things, listen to our subconscious whispers, and generally barge around.

— Alan Kay - https://www.quora.com/What-advice-would-Alan-Kay-give-a-curious-individual-to-improve-their-ability-to-think-and-learn-Is-there-a-place-to-see-his-library-%E2%80%94-every-book-person-and-research-he-has-studied/answer/Alan-Kay-11

  • Alan says that due to cognitive load humans can be easily overwhelmed when learning new things, and it's impossible to have enough "free space" left to create new ideas, he advocates for learning, and then "forgetting" to give space for new thoughts, which will always relate to what the mind already knows

One way to think about a Dynabook is that it is mainly centered about all aspects of user interface design, especially for children, and not just about how to access, learn and use a computer but how to access, learn and use ideas.

— Alan Kay - https://www.quora.com/What-lessons-were-learned-in-aspiring-towards-the-DynaBook-and-have-any-of-its-original-goals-become-dated/answer/Alan-Kay-11

  • Dynabook was supposed to be a tool for children to learn how to "use ideas" and create new ones - so an ideation tool in a sense
Szymon Kaliski © 2020