|New Civilization News: Are breakthroughs social?|
Category: Ideas, Creativity
27 comments21 Jun 2007 @ 18:00 by Hanae @126.96.36.199 : The Eureka moment
Archimedes has become a symbol of the famous "breakthrough" moment after his attempt at solving a nasty little problem involving a gold crown belonging to Hiero of Syracuse, lead him to the enunciation of the famous Archimedes's principle. Well, the story goes that the breakthrough occurred to him, while the case still being on his mind, he happened to go to the bath (and bath were, well, somewhat of a "social" occasion, in those days) and on getting into a tub (maybe more of a private moment here, and certainly conductive to introspection) observed that the more his body sank into it the more water ran out over the tub. Upon which transported with joy, he jumped out of the tub and rushed home naked (and how "social" or "asocial" was that in those days, I do not know), shouting repeatedly and loudly: εὑρηκα/ηὑρηκα
And so the interesting point here is...er...
- I am not sure what the interesting point is. -
(Nonetheless, it makes for a good story, as such things go.)
And, ah, yes, Archimedes's "eureka" has come to symbolize the "breakthrough" moment. Is a breakthrough indeed a "moment" or more of a process? In the case of Archimedes it seemed like more of a "moment" thing, almost a "wonder of wonders" Buddha like kind of awakening. But it is also a process in a sense that a context is needed. Nothing comes out of nothing. And is one ever really "alone?"
The Xeno's paradox kicks in: does every little process breaks up into some smaller processes and bits and pieces until it suddenly emerge into a "breakthrough?" Is there some reproducible social contexts patterns there that could be identified and reproduced so that they could be systematized?
What did the Tortoise say to Achilles?
21 Jun 2007 @ 18:57 by Hanae @188.8.131.52 : Serendipity
A breakthrough refers to the act of overcoming or penetrating an obstacle or restriction. Which is pretty much Flemming's angle:
"A breakthrough is, I suppose, when there's something somebody wants, and something stopping it which is somewhat complex. So, it is a problem, or dilemma, or a confused situation, where an objective is known, but not being met."
Another angle is that a breakthrough is also a term which is used to refer to a major achievement that permits further progress: in this context a breakthrough can also just simply occur then when there's nothing anybody particularly wants, or necessarily anything complex stopping anyone that anyone knows of. No problem. No dilemma. No known objective. Rather it is the revelation of the existence of an objective previously unknown which can be the breakthrough. A new reality, a new way of looking at things, which no one was necessarily looking for. In which case it is called serendipity.
Is it social?
It can be.
"Serendipity is looking in a haystack for a needle and discovering a farmer's daughter."
---Julius Comroe Jr.
But not necessarily so - LOL
Can it be thought?
Aye, there's the rub...
"...you don't reach Serendib by plotting a course for it. You have to set out in good faith for elsewhere and lose your bearings ... serendipitously."
---John Barth, The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor
21 Jun 2007 @ 20:09 by ming : Serendipity
I suppose a breakthrough is always a point, isn't it? Suddenly it is there, or suddenly it is noticed, at least.
And it might or might not arise from serendipity. I enjoy the serendipitous breakthroughs better. You plot a course for somewhere, and you surprisingly arise elsewhere, and it is found to be better.
But it could also simply mean that you worked hard and methodically on solving something, and you succeeded.
21 Jun 2007 @ 21:59 by Hanae @184.108.40.206 : Very much so ;-)
"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!', but 'That's funny …'"
"In the field of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind."
25 Jun 2007 @ 14:15 by quirkeboy @220.127.116.11 : I would think...
that an individual requires input and data gathering to aid in solving the problem.. but this doesnt necessarily suggest social interraction. I would argue that social interraction is not necessary:
10 Jul 2007 @ 21:42 by Hanae @18.104.22.168 : Is it possible to be too connected?
Surowiecki spoke on Independent Individuals and Wise Crowds, or Is It Possible to Be Too Connected?.
The question for all of us is, how can you have interaction without information cascades, without losing the independence that’s such a key factor in group intelligence?
- Keep your ties loose
- Keep yourself exposed to as many diverse sources of information as possible
- Make groups that range across hierarchies
10 Jul 2007 @ 23:30 by ming : Too connected
Excellent article about the Unwisdom of Crowds there. As he says "Collective wisdom does not emerge out of consensus". If we're too much together, too connected, we might just end up agreeing and imitating each other. Which doesn't produce collective intelligence. So, the question is how to strike the right balance. We need diversity and connectedness. If the diversity is too drastic, we maybe don't understand each other. If we're too synchronized, we might all say the same thing, and we're dumber as a group.
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