"A person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance. Since he occurs only rarely, he must seem eccentric (in at least that respect) to the rest of us. A person eccentric in one respect is often eccentric in others. Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits. (To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself.)"
Also very good is Richard Hamming's "You and Your Research" talk - http://www.paulgraham.com/hamming.html
Self confidence, I agree is huge, but it can't be faked. It has to actually be known. Sometimes that seems to mean letting your mind go for a loop, coming back again, and realizing you can never know anything while also knowing something.
I just don't really think any of the side effects of being a percieved genius matter as much as the work actually done. Sometimes it means going against the crowd, sometimes it means going with.
When he went around asking others what they thought, every single person said he was nuts and it would never work. That made him extremely excited - and more determined than ever - because he knew he was on the path of doing something truly different.
One of the (potentially) negative sides of the same phenomenon is the acceptance of and tendency towards memes. They can certainly be annoying, but a strong flow of memes is indicative of a lot of culture and ideas bashing up against each other until some of the bits stick together in a novel way.
A cleverly applied meme comment on a Reddit thread can easily get hundreds or thousands of upvotes. Front page HN threads don't even get any meme comments, because people here know that their comment would be buried immediately, if not outright deleted (I admit to being much less familiar with the inner workings of HN than Reddit). Reddit threads are definitely a place of quantity over quality, but the sheer volume of creativity swirling around is bound to uncover a couple gems.
All of that said, I've never viewed HN as a place for ideas to be generated. This is a fantastic whetstone with some brilliant minds, but it can also be merciless.
To put it in simpler terms, Reddit is more input-oriented, while HN is more output-oriented.
I disagree - I've had a few novel ideas here, they may not have been universally novel but were definitely ideas that came up from threads I read, that I'd not seen or considered previously.
Sure HN isn't structured towards this sort of creativity but it still provokes it on occasions.
Forums are as input or output orientated as one chooses IME.
Edit: this, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8487385, might be an example - I've not seen config undo-history in browsers before?
If each account had a limited vote rate (perhaps tied to that user's activity), I think this might help to reduce this effect somewhat. Much the same analysis probably applies to downvotes: currently users will click the down arrow on anything they disagree with, rather than only downvoting comments that severely detract from the conversation. Of course you'd have to be careful about this system being gamed, but all voting systems can be gamed and it's not obvious that this approach is any more vulnerable than usual.
To some extent I think Hacker News' greater discussion quality is due to its poor user interface, as weird as that may seem. Upvoting/downvoting on a mobile device, for example, generally requires zooming in to hit a small target, whereas on reddit I don't need to do that on my iPad at all, and on my iPhone not as much. Commenting on Hacker News also requires visiting another URL, whereas on reddit it happens more effortlessly. These are small things but they can be the hurdle that causes someone not to bother to post that joke or upvote the 17th reply in a meme sequence.
I know this probably sounds like a technical solution to a social problem, and I don't mean to deny the important effect that cultural norms and community policing play. After all, subreddits have widely varying qualities of discussion depending on their community standards, and there's no question Hacker News' quality survives in large part due to community vigilance. But I do think the effortlessness of voting on reddit is a factor which contributes to the prevalence of lowest common denominator comments, and I'd be very interested in seeing reddit or other social forums experiment with imposing a scarcity of voting power.
What I think could be a better system is for everyone to be able to mark what they like and don't like, then have the option of sorting by votes of other people that typically vote the same way you do. So people that like a lot of meme humor will see that more, and those that don't won't. Add in the ability to select from various "clusters", so you can also have the experience of reading comments based on alternative tastes, then I think you would have something that is immune from being gamed.
HN comment threads are heavy on criticism, light on creation.
The fact that one can after reading an online article almost inevitably see all the problems they neglected to mention is less the readers fault and more the writers for presenting a biased opinion-piece under the guise of news. HN critics can of course be wrong just like everyone else but the majority of the time those comments are pointing out serious issues and providing the counterbalance.
As an example the indie games or games on mobile will always be more adventurous and maybe 1% true gems better than other markets because the market is so big and allows anything. Contrast to the old school console days where mobile didn't exist, filled with greatly cookie cutter clones and rarely an innovation because it was 'too risky'. The ideas were there, just no avenue because it was curated away.
I personally believe any open market will always beat a closed one even if 99% of the open market is not as good. The broad differentiation of games/apps for instance only happens when many, many compete. A closed/curated market too closely will lose out on some big innovations. The same goes for internet vs old school publishing.
Side note: reddit moderations and subreddit moderation provides participation and value but is also somewhat limiting in terms of creativity. Reddit has shifted from heavily voted/democracy to a bunch of smaller partial democracies with a few dictators (similar to workplaces) and does threaten that creativity a bit. However the ability to setup any subreddit and comment with any vanity account have added exponential value in terms of creativity.
Someone else mentioned that HN is a great display of creativity which is a good way of putting it. This (and places like Reddit, Digg, et al) are merely museums for the real art, which is being wrought out in the world.
If everything on reddit interested me or was of the same quality there would never be any experimentation (foolishness) and I'd get lost in my own little world.
A lot of people love the way the sausage tastes but they stick up their noses at how it's made.
Feynman has a similar story about playing with ideas and just enjoying the process instead of worrying about the pressures associated with being great: https://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~kilcup/262/feynman.html.
"When I was at Princeton in the 1940s I could see what happened to those great minds at the Institute for Advanced Study, who had been specially selected for their tremendous brains and were now given this opportunity to sit in this lovely house by the woods there, with no classes to teach, with no obligations whatsoever. These poor bastards could now sit and think clearly all by themselves, OK? So they don't get any ideas for a while: They have every opportunity to do something, and they're not getting any ideas. I believe that in a situation like this a kind of guilt or depression worms inside of you, and you begin to worry about not getting any ideas. And nothing happens. Still no ideas come. Nothing happens because there's not enough real activity and challenge: You're not in contact with the experimental guys. You don't have to think how to answer questions from the students. Nothing!"
Anyway, from the wikipedia the first time the term "psycho-history" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychohistory#Emergence_as_a_di...) is been used is 1958, it is a good guess to say that the article is been written no later than the 1960...
I guess we can forgive Asimov...
> Since it is now possible to predict human development hundreds of years into the future no idea is really new anymore.
It is just sarcasm then ?
If not can somebody elaborate ?
"Science fiction author and scientist/science writer Isaac Asimov popularized the term in his famous Foundation series of novels, though in his works the term psychohistory is used fictionally for a mathematical discipline that can be used to predict the general course of future flow."
So the humor lies mostly in the second line about how Asimov is not applying the discipline of psychohistory to his thinking about the future, when he wrote an entire fictional trilogy about people using said discipline. The comment you're confused by is written from the perspective of someone who lives in that fictional world.
If you have read this trilogy (which is one of the early classics of science fiction), there may be an additional layer of irony, as much of the story concerns the grand plans based on psychohistorical predictions going horribly awry due to not accounting for a wild card that comes up.
(Spoiler alert needed for a book published in 1986?)
The second half of the book contains extensive commentary by Asimov on how to write science fiction. He delves into a lot of topics like writing style, grammer, ideas and many other things.
There is a whole chapter on a how to generate a story from an idea and how to get the idea to start with. In it, he stresses on thinking. As in real, solid literal thinking, what we would normally call brainstorming. As a science fiction author, he says that the brainstorming is not something that he used to do in short bursts like someone would normally do. He writes that a science fiction author has to think to a point where her/his head starts aching, literally.
This is something I've always felt, but remained unable to express as well as Asimov did here. I'm so grateful for those with a gold mine of information who resist temptation toward arrogance and scornful correction, and instead show patience and joy in teaching the foolish.
Draw from a pool of people who wish to be involved in cerebratory pursuits, and who are willing to accept and give ideas freely to others. Out of this pool, some combination of 4 or 5 individuals within the same geographical region can be drawn randomly from this group for cerebration sessions following a few Asimov Cerebration Guidelines (ACGs):
-"ease, relaxation, and a general sense of permissiveness."
-"short reports to write, or summaries of their conclusions, or brief answers to suggested problems, [and be paid for that]"
-"educate the participants in facts and fact-combinations, in theories and vagrant thoughts."
-"meeting in someone’s home or over a dinner table at some restaurant"
-"a session-arbiter will have to sit there, stirring up the animals, asking the shrewd question, making the necessary comment, bringing them gently back to the point."
After the session, the session can be given an evaluation by each of the participants:
A. did the session feel neutralized by any of the participants reputations?
B. was any insight gained?
C. was the session jovial?
I think I, as well as some others, would be interested in attending something like this if it could be organized well.
I'll be sure to save this one to read periodically. Thanks for the submission.
"It seems to me then that the purpose of cerebration sessions
is not to think up new ideas but to educate the participants
in facts and fact-combinations, in theories and vagrant thoughts."
Although the stories themselves were quite mundane, what struck me as I somehow forced my way forward in the stories, was Asimov's clairvoyant tone while writing. Most of the things he wrote, even in apparent jest, hold true today.
And never have I been so enthralled by a bunch of essays as Asimov has done it... Reading his second momoir and many more essays underline his wisdom more and more.
Are these tools available to use?
If you are interested more in live coding you might want to check http://toplap.org/?title=ToplapSystems
To get a summary of the book you can also view his TED talk:
You take an old idea, and you pull out all the variables and you start permuting upon them.
... but which variables?
Permutations grow exponentially as you add dimensions, so you can't have too many.