Archive for March, 2008

Steven Johnson, in his stimulating book, Emergence, offers a quote by the futurist, Ray Kurzweil to emphasis the importance of pattern formation and recognition.

Because each individual neuron is so slow, [Ray] Kurzweil explains, “we don’t have time to think too many new thoughts when we are pressed to make a decision. The human brain relies on precomputing its analyses and storing them for future reference. We then use our pattern-recognition capability to recognize a situation as compatible to one we have thought about and then draw upon our previously considered conclusions.”

I have offered some reflections on this quote in relation to slow thinking (and prejudice) on my blog, here.

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So many people I met with last year were busy

  • busy with deadlines, and immediate demand, and deliverables and urgent things
  • too busy to do what they actually thought was not only important, but also more interesting – thinking.

So with a good group of people (Graeme, Jane, Paul) the ‘slow thinking movement’ started.

“Movement’ may be a bit of an exaggeration – but all things have to begin somewhere…

It is of course, in part, inspired by the slow food movement (of which I am a great fan).

But more than that, it comes out of some work I was doing where people seemed hungry for opportunities to put aside the immediate demands of life and look at the bigger picture, have conversations that did not have a pre-determined purpose, and talk with people that were living and working in a different space/sphere.

And when we did that, found time for those conversations that allowed us to make connections, ruminate, discover what other people were up to or thinking about – then it turned out to be really interesting, and mind-expanding, and stimulating, and fun. Our worlds all got bigger.

That all happened in a work context (navigator network), – but we decided to try it in a non-work context. So the first formal event happened – 8 people invited for a slow meal, and asked to bring one thing they wanted to talk about with people they may not have met before. We deliberately asked people who lived and worked in quite different areas, and people we knew were good listeners and talkers…

Everyone got a chance to introduce their topic for a couple of minutes, then we moved into the meal, and just began talking… Easy as that.

Some hours later they all went home, with the suggestion that they think about repeating the format themselves with others…

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