Posts tagged “alcohol”

Boost your creativity: Booze, barf and boredom

I am always on the lookout for ideas to boost creativity. Below are a few recent insightful readings…

Alcohol Benefits the Creative Process [Psychology Today] – Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago set out to determine if being intoxicated actually helped people think more creatively. They recruited people ages 21-30 and gave half of them vodka cranberry cocktails until their blood alcohol level reached .075. Then both groups completed a Remote Associations Test wherein they were given a series of three words (i.e. tar, arm, peach) for which they had to find a single word that would create two-word phrases with all three (i.e. pit). This kind of task was chosen to assess creativity because it is believed that the most obvious response is often not correct and therefore people must search for other more remote words in order to solve the problem. The findings indicate that the intoxicated participants not only performed better than their sober counterparts, they did so in less time and were more inclined to attribute their performance to a flash of insight; an “Aha!” moment.

Why might being intoxicated lead to improved creativity? The answer has to do with alcohol’s effect on working memory: the brainpower that helps us keep what we want in mind and what we don’t want out. Research has shown that alcohol tends to reduce people’s ability to focus in on some things and ignore others, which also happens to benefit creative problem solving.

I had a great excuse to practice this approach this weekend (admittedly, this was not the first time). I found that a yuzu-infused cocktail from Morimoto in Napa actually did catalyze divergent thinking. In fact, I generated a significant number of ideas for ideation and training sessions that involve yummy bites and liquid concoctions.

Produce First, Sharpen Second: What Dylan’s Vomit Teaches Us About The Creative Process [The Creativity Post] – This article references Bob Dylan’s creative process behind Like A Rolling Stone which involved a massive vomit of verses followed by a period of crafting and sculpting that rambling mass into an exquisitely refined piece of work. Dylan’s experience and other examples from the article illustrate a topic that I believe is profoundly important to understanding what creative thinking is and how to facilitate it. Creativity involves two polarized modes of thinking that can be described as opposites: divergent/convergent, imagination/logic, improvisation/composition, writing/editing, and so on. The key is to keep these two modes, vomit/cleanup, separate. Do not mix! In fact, a recent study at a Dutch university that is cited in this article concluded that taking a break between creating ideas and assessing them actually improves one’s ability to recognize the more promising concepts. Quick tip: The next time you are looking for great ideas, set yourself (or your team) a wildly large goal (i.e. 30-100 ideas) and don’t stop until you reach that number. Then take a break (10 minutes, 24 hours, whatever). Finally, go back and dive in to your ideas to cluster, organize, eliminate and ensure that the best ones rise to the top. Then give them refinement and strengthening that they deserve!

The reason we should “never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down” is because we initially don’t know which of our ideas are worthwhile. It’s only after we get everything down that we are able to recognize what works from what doesn’t. This is the lesson from Ritter’s research: we need to give the unconscious mind time to mull it over so it can convince the conscious mind to make adjustments.

Want To Be More Creative? Get Bored [Fast Company] – If you are looking for something to do between ideaphoria and analysis, a break that Edward deBono calls the “creative pause”, give some thought to not thinking at all. The author reflects on the importance of clearing the mind and the calendar and not doing a thing. Why? Because this space of quiet be-ing (not doing) is a lacuna from the litany of productivity and entertainment. It gives the mind room to breathe. Think of it as mental yoga, a place to pause between the inhale of ideas and the exhale of action.

I know it sounds strange, but I welcome boredom. It forces me to ponder. But to make sure we’re on the same page, when I speak of boredom, I’m not referring to killing time on your smartphone, your iPad, or your laptop. I’m not even talking about paging through a book. I mean bored as in doing absolutely nothing.


ChittahChattah Quickies

  • [from steve_portigal] The $5 Guerrilla User Test [Bumblebee Labs Blog] – [While we're obviously big advocates of getting input about designs from people as frequently as possible and at various levels of fidelity, it's a bit dissonant when informal methods get distilled (so to speak) into formal-seeming methods without any of the purposefulness and planfulness of established methods. Challenging to my assumptions and thus helpfully provocative] Drunk people are a pretty accurate mimic of distracted, indifferent people. This insight has lead to a wonderful technique I’ve been refining over the years that I call “The $5 Guerrilla User Test”. Here’s the 5 second version: 1. Bring a laptop to a bar, 2. Offer to buy someone a beer in exchange for participating in a user study, 3. Watch your application crash & burn as people do all sorts of ridiculous ass shit they would never do in a lab but constantly do in real life, 4. Go back, apply the lessons you have learnt, repeat until you have an app that is 100% drunk person proof

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Virtual Seminar: Deep Dive Interviewing Secrets by Steve Portigal [IxDA Munich] – “Deep Dive Interviewing Secrets: Making Sure You Don’t Leave Key Information Behind”, Steve Portigal’s virtual seminar will be shown in our next meeting. The seminar lasts 90 minutes and it will be followed by a discussion. June 30th 7 p.m., IDEO, Hochbrückenstraße 6, 80331 Munich
  • IndieReader – For Self-Published Books and the Readers Who Love Them – IndieReader is a venue for you to find and purchase books published and produced by the people who wrote them. Think of these books like handmade goods, produced in small numbers, instead of the mass-marketed stuff you'd find at a super store. And every book on the IndieReader site is reviewed prior to acceptance, guaranteeing that you'll find the "cream-of-the-indie crop". Why is this so important? Because today more than ever, almost everything we produce gets co-opted by corporate culture, turned into a business model, reformulated and churned out like soap with the simple intent to appeal to as many people as possible. In a world where almost everything is packaged by committee, IndieReader offers you books with a single voice: the writer's own.
  • The Expanding Definition of Craft Beer [] – In a world where Nabisco sells “artisan” Wheat Thins, the designation of Samuel Adams as a craft beer seems perfectly fair. But the Boston Beer Company, the brewery that was founded in 1984 and makes Sam Adams, is on the verge of outgrowing its coveted craft status — at least according to the Brewers Association, a national trade group that defines craft brewers in part as producing fewer than two million barrels a year. The federal government defines small brewers similarly, imposing a lower excise tax on those that stay under the two-million-barrel threshold. Mr. Koch predicted that Boston Beer would surpass the two-million mark by 2012. But help may be on the way: John Kerry introduced a bill last month that would increase the yearly production limit for small brewers to six million barrels.
  • Icing, a meme drinking game with Smirnoff Ice [] – The premise of the game is simple: hand a friend a sugary Smirnoff Ice malt beverage and he has to drink it on one knee, all at once — unless he is carrying a bottle himself, in which case the attacker must drink both bottles. Amid suspicion that the trend is an elaborate viral marketing campaign by Smirnoff, which the company has denied, new icing photos are posted daily on various blogs, Twitter and Facebook — including scenes from graduations and weddings — and sent directly to a Web site, The game has exposed the mercurial line between guerrilla advertising and genuine social media trends, raising questions about how young consumers can know when they have co-opted a brand for their own purposes, and when that brand has co-opted them.
  • Rethink the Book project from Berlin University of the Art – In cooperation with the schoolbook publisher Cornelsen Verlag a student group of the „New Media Studio Class” experimented with the digital possibilities to think anew the book as media. They linked the book by visual codes with methods of "Augmented Reality". They embeded sensor technology for new forms of interaction and used new methods of production engineering like "laser cutting" to model the book as an object or to publish personalized schoolbooks. In the exhibition they show several prototypes like electronic origami paper or an interactive periodic table.
    (via @cora_l)

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • New Yorker profile of Fred Franzia, the rather unpleasant character behind Charles Shaw wine (akaTwo Buck Chuck) – "You tell me why someone's bottle is worth eight dollars and mine's worth two dollars," he says. "Do you get forty times the pleasure from it?" With Two Buck Chuck, Franzia invented a category known as “super-value” wine. Cheap wine – so-called skid-row wine – is noting new; Franzia's idea was to make cheap wine that yuppies would feel comfortable drinking. He put Charles Shaw in a seven-hundred-and-fifty millilitre glass bottle, with a real cork, and used varietal grapes.
  • Offline, accurate quantitative usage data can be tough to capture – Advertisers rely on M.R.I.’s research. It measures how many readers a magazine has, including people who did not buy it but read a friend’s copy or flipped through it at the doctor’s office. It also profiles the readers of all the magazines, including their income levels, attitudes and toothpaste-buying habits.

    M.R.I. divides the country into representative neighborhoods and sends researchers to the zones to conduct a 45-minute interview, with 26,000 people a year, asking them to remember which magazines they have read in the last six months.

    The researchers leave behind a 104-page survey about what sort of television shows people watch, what kind of products they use, and what social or behavioral traits describe them. M.R.I. then tries to adjust its results so they represent the country.

    [But there are accuracy issues] While M.R.I. said Tennis magazine’s readership dropped almost by a third, its subscriptions and newsstand sales rose slightly.

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • Gorilla Snot Cocktail Recipe – Measure the port into a brandy glass, the pour the Bailey's in. As the Bailey's enters the port it will solidify, forming a glob.
  • Gorilla Snot Musicians Gripping Resin – (thanks @trx0x) Gorilla Snot is a gripping aid. It has been developed by and for professionals who demand flexibility, functionality, and efficiency in the tools of their trade. A non-gooey, naturally refined tree rosin, Gorilla Snot reacts with your body's natural chemistry and heat output to retain a steady grip on picks drumsticks, bows, and any other hard to grip instruments.

    While playing, Gorilla Snot maintains an even consistency, but when you've finished, just separate your fingers for 20 or 30 seconds, and it dissolves completely! The gripping reaction is only effective when you activate it. It cannot stain instruments or clothing because it is entirely permeable to open air and dissipates completely.

  • Gorilla-Snot® Soil Stabilization & Dust Control from Soilworks® – Soilworks®, LLC is the innovator and manufacturer of Gorilla-Snot® soil stabilizer and dust control agent. It is the economy grade version of our Soiltac® soil stabilizer. Gorilla-Snot® is an eco-safe, biodegradable, liquid copolymer used to stabilize and solidify any soil or aggregate as well as erosion control and dust suppression.
  • Moco de Gorila – Snott Gorila Hair Styling Gel – Moco de Gorila® is a very strong hair gel made in mexico. It delivers strong lasting hold and it leaves absolutely no residues or flakes on your hair.
    Does Moco de Gorila Hair Gel have anything to do with real gorillas?
    No. Amusingly, this is a very frequently asked question. The only thing that comes from a Gorilla is its name.
    Can Moco de Gorila® be used by women?
    Yes. There is many women that use Moco de Gorila to keep their hair style all day long without leaving any residues.

    [I like the name, the brand, the rawness, the story, the cultural ping-ponging between white and Hispanic, the package design]

The Hangover Around The World

From Annals Of Drinking in The New Yorker, which explores the cultural and medical aspects of hangover causes and cures, comes this fun bit

[T]he Egyptians say they are “still drunk,” the Japanese “two days drunk,” the Chinese “drunk overnight.” The Swedes get “smacked from behind.” But it is in languages that describe the effects rather than the cause that we begin to see real poetic power. Salvadorans wake up “made of rubber,” the French with a “wooden mouth” or a “hair ache.” The Germans and the Dutch say they have a “tomcat,” presumably wailing. The Poles, reportedly, experience a “howling of kittens.” My favorites are the Danes, who get “carpenters in the forehead.” In keeping with the saying about the Eskimos’ nine words for snow, the Ukrainians have several words for hangover. And, in keeping with the Jews-don’t-drink rule, Hebrew didn’t even have one word until recently. Then the experts at the Academy of the Hebrew Language, in Tel Aviv, decided that such a term was needed, so they made one up: hamarmoret, derived from the word for fermentation.

On the Bankside

I strolled through an interesting area south of the Thames, near the Borough Market. All the pubs had basically spilled into the streets, and people were hanging out any place they could, quite comfortable sitting amongst pylons, palettes, and rubbish, socializing in small groups with a pint of beer. It was almost shocking to see beer consumption going on “in public” as if this was somehow immoral, but that was just my outsider’s eyes.

The vibe was so positive and enthusiastic. And as I came upon the sign (see the last image) that marks the end of the area, I realized that it was a sanctioned behavior in a specific region.

Quickies from UXWeek

Despite all the training, the swanky Palomar Hotel, site of UX Week, isn’t able to get basic things like room reservations (ObSeinfeld: “See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation”) sorted out. I wasn’t the only one it seems that arrived (hot and dusty from a long long voyage) to find some polite confusion at the front desk. And today (after friendly but pungent maintenance men visited my room during the well-communicated fire alarm test) a polite person knocked on my door to see if my room was indeed occupied.

Anyway, more content stuff to come (great keynote by Michael Bierut). Surreal moment of zen last night when the very “guy” bartenders at the billiards bar where Google hosted a (recruiting) party poured out pitchers of shots (of what they referred to as a concoction and had us all toast – like patrons of wet-t-shirt-nite – to GOOOOOOOOOOGLE!!!!!!!!!! It was a viral-video/co-creation opportunity waiting to happen.

Bombay Sapphire, anyone?

Low-cost airline pilot ‘tried to fly drunk’

An Indian low-cost airline suspended a pilot after he was found drunk shortly before he was due to fly an aircraft with about 100 passengers on board, officials said on Wednesday.

The surprise Tuesday check at Mumbai airport — India’s busiest — threw up several minor violations of safety norms by airlines, including an instance of a pilot in another low-cost carrier trying to fly in a T-shirt because his only uniform had gone to the laundry.

“threw up several minor violations” is an interesting choice of words.

Bombay Sapphire, anyone?


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