Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Kick in the Asterisk* : New Friend Curriculum.

Design your own friend curriculum.

We put out a challenge in our last post, perhaps because of some economic frustration and a desire to get the economic engine working again. Or maybe because of a latent anxiety existing in our design perspective, seeing everything in need of improvement. Whatever the motivation, its out there, now we have to do our part to keep up the conversation.

Here's the start of something. 

My awareness of the value of a "liberal arts" education was insufficient when lounging around on the lower quad of campus in my undergrad. Today, I've realized one of the most brilliant fundamentals to creativity, problem solving and new ideas is the connection of disparate subjects. If you don't agree with these fundamentals to creativity, here are two pieces of evidence: first, the BMW Guggenheim Lab on 100 Urban Trends and second, a book by Jim Link on the new creativity.

With this in mind, let's talk about solving big problems. How do we get more people thinking this way and being creative in their daily lives, no matter their profession? Short of forcing Jim to give his book away for free, there has to be a way to get more people aware of how creative they are as human beings. 

We can start with our educational institutions and what some of us witnessed in a presentation by DR Widder at Philadelphia University and Unilever's Gail Martino. Philadelphia University counters the specialization that typically happens in graduate studies by forming a collaboration between the engineering, design and business schools — exactly what liberal arts had originally been designed to do. If you missed the presentation, there were other posts highlighting it and I am certain Professor Widder would be willing to give you more details on the program if asked.

But now you're asking yourself: "that's all fine and good Mr. Keller, but what can I really do? I don't hold the reigns to a large educational institution and I don't have a zillion dollars to spend either" (yes, that's a link to the definition for zillion). You can do plenty. The biggest thing you can do is making new, interesting friends. Yes, making friends.

Making new friends who are not like you and don't do what you do. That's the "interesting" criteria. Then, when making these friends, draw correlations between what you each do for a living. Consider this your dedication to lifelong learning and meeting new people who do "interesting" things. 

Now, if you consider designing your own curriculum for meeting new people, what would it look like? Perhaps a weekly coffee meeting with someone in a field of which you know nothing about? And, maybe a different subject matter each month? Think about the design of your own "creative" curriculum and then spend a couple hours a week dedicated to meeting new "interesting" friends in divergent fields. 

Reward yourself with a weekly infusion of brain stimulation, you'll thank yourself and perhaps even find a correlation that solves one of the big problems our society faces today. 

If this is just too much work for you, then just watch this goat video, have a laugh and go back to your day as always.

Thank you for enjoying.

Aaron Keller is an author of two books on design, Design Matters: Logos and Design Matters: Packaging. He is also the co-founder of Capsule, a design innovation firm. He also writes for a variety of blogs from his modest desk and keyboard in Minneapolis, Mn.

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