Open Source

Bold (and creative) children as a source of innovation

I went this week to see two lectures by the philosopher Pekka Himanen. Himanen is giving a lecture series for our new students. He talks about creative community.

Himanen is internationally one of the most well known Finnish academics – from big part because of his pretty clever book called The Hacker Ethics – On the Spirit of the Information Age. In Finland people have very strong opinions about Himanen.

Lately, Pekka has been writing and talking about creativity and creative society. Some people with a longer career of doing research on creativity have present hard criticism against him. I understand the criticism, but also see Himanen’s contribution. He is not a psychologist or social scientist doing research on creativity. He never claimed to be one. He is a philosopher, a brilliant thinker with extensive understanding of classical and popular culture as well as world politics and economy. Naturally he is well read in classical and contemporary philosophy, and social science. Furthermore Pekka even knows something about digitalization and Internet. These people are rare.

On Monday Pekka was talking about people’s boldness and it’s role in creativity. Boldness is crucial in creativity. Children are bold. They are not afraid to say what do they think. This brings in my mind two things that are related to Pekka’s lectures and the themes discussed in this blog.

To come-up with good products for online learning we should collaborate much more with children. Actually when designing whatever digital tool or software we should work closely with children. Not with the “big children” (hackers, designers, experts) but with small, real children. I know that Alan Kay, Adele Goldberg and Seymour Papert use to work with children and that work partly resulted as such things as graphical user interface, mouse pad etc. Why people are not anymore doing this? Or some clever people are, but not that many at all. We should.

Wikipedians have the be bold! rule. Being bold in Wikipedia means that when you see something that can be improved, you should not hesitate to do so. This is simply because Wikis develop faster when everybody helps to fix problems, correct grammar, add facts, make links etc. Does this have anything to do with creativity? Maybe. I think Wikipedian’s creativity and the boldness to show it right when it is flourishing is pretty much what is behind the success of Wikipedia. In Wikipedia, if you have an idea you just change the wiki-page according to that. No committees, nor delays or overheads.

My three-year-old daughter told me yesterday that “playing is children’s work” (This is actually some kind of modern Finnish proverb). Then she continued: “work must then be like adult’s playing”. She is not totally wrong, but we should have a bit more playfulness in our work to really make the sentence accurate. I am working on it.

2 replies on “Bold (and creative) children as a source of innovation”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s