Media Proliferation, Creativity and Change

Today, I’d like to talk about how media proliferation affects creativity – specifically, how media proliferation has increased the availability of information which fuels creativity. This creativity can, in turn, foster change which fosters more media proliferation – forming a continuous feedback loop that leads to exponential growth in the rate of change.

Model for the Creative Process

Perhaps the best book ever written on creativity, The Act of Creation by Arthur Koestler, describes a model for how new ideas come into being. Koestler called this process bisociation. Bisociation occurs when two previously unrelated planes of thought suddenly intersect. In his book, Koestler gives us hundreds of examples of how this process worked for the most creative people in history.

The geometric plane below represents the beginning of a creative person’s  search for solutions. He/she explores what they already know looking for answers. However, the answers they find will, by definition, be expected and not creative.


However, this exercise serves a purpose. It eliminates expected solutions and prepares the subconscious for the moment of inspiration. Koestler visualizes what some people call the “Aha” or “Eureka” moment as the sudden bisociation of a new plane of thought.


Sudden Bisociation of Previously Unrelated Thoughts

Bisociation usually happens at times when we allow our thoughts to stray after a frustrating search of known solutions – as when browsing through a library, walking past a shop window, flipping channels, or singing in a shower. A chance encounter, a fleeting thought, a random comment, or an unexpected experience suddenly connects two previously unrelated planes of thought.

Without first having wandered through the wilderness of known solutions, the mind would never recognize the solution as the solution. The mind would see it as just another in a long stream of random, unrelated ideas.

This model works in a wide variety of creative endeavors – from the arts to comedy and even science. My experience agrees with Koestler’s. Several things increase the chances of creative success:

  • Tightly defining the problem/issue
  • Thoroughly embedding it in the subconscious mind by exhaustively searching for solutions
  • Stepping away from problem
  • Voraciously consuming information on other topics

The more we know and the more we experience, the greater the chances for bisociation. Said another way, “Chance favors the prepared and well-stocked mind.”

Media Proliferation Fuels Creativity

This brings us back to media proliferation. Today, more information surrounds more people than at any other time in history. Newspapers, bookstores, radio, TV, libraries, and the Internet bring the world to us through computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and more. We swim in information every day.

Media proliferation fuels creativity by increasing the chances for bisociation of ideas. It’s no accident that an exponential increase in information availability has coincided with a geometric increase in change. Each fertilizes the other in a continuous loop.

Now pardon me while I focus on some business issues and then let my mind wander.