In recent years you’ve probably already been told in the past that to come up with new ideas means making creative connections between two unrelated things. It may include combining two objects together into a single machine that takes advantage of both object’s description and properties.
Perhaps you’ve pulled out a printed dictionary and closed your eyes while turning to a random page and pointing somewhere on the page. Later repeating this process to find a second word and then combining the unrelated words.
Maybe you have a map of the world on your wall and have been throwing darts at it. After throwing a few darts, you’ve researched information about those locations to find a connection.
Does any of this sound familiar?
While these are all suitable methods of making creative connections, it’s time to try something a little more exciting.
Six Degrees Of Separation
The concept of six degrees of separation is that any person on the planet can be connected with another person in only six steps. It can be as simple as a friend-of-a-friend or through professional acquaintances.
The easiest way to understand this is an example. Let’s say your friend Sue has a boss named Fred. Fred has a friend named Bob that works in Hollywood, California. Bob knows the mailman that works at a major movie studio. The mailman works for a director named Steven, and Steven has produced films featuring a famous actor by the name of Tom.
Social media channels are another example where connections are made. One person follows another who follows who also follows another. In fact, Facebook studied their network of users to find the degrees of separation in their follower network is less than 4.
Let Others Do The Work
Find an existing web page about your topic and then right-click a few of the links there to open them in a new tab. Repeat the process for each of those tabs, then repeat. Now you should have a dozen or so browser tabs open. Copy and paste a random sentence from each tab into a new document. You’ll end up with what looks like a paragraph, but with unrelated passages. Next, work on rewording each sentence so that it sounds like they belong together.
Hop onto a social media channel and check out the list of followers for an account related to your niche. Compile demographic information (location, interests, etc.) into a spreadsheet for 20 or 30 of them.
With the spreadsheet now filling the screen start looking for patterns. Are they all in the same geographic area? Do many have a similar hobby other than one related to the account they are following? If so, this may present new content ideas for your work.
Fake News Lead To Creative Connections
The reasons why people publish fake news ranges from deviousness to misinterpreting a fact. Regardless of the reason, fake news can also be used to spark the imagination. Instead of spreading the information further, ponder the possibilities as if it were true.
The source of fake news usually begins with an anonymous source spreading information unofficially in forums. It may include staff having secret meetings with a member of the media or posting information onto social media.#FakeNews can also be used to spark the imaginationClick To Tweet
Due to their popularity, the two most common sources of fake news has been Facebook and Twitter. Both have struggled with implementing filters that reduces false news while blocking the truth. Sometimes they’ve used a human moderator instead. Twitter’s limit of 140 characters per “tweet” ends up with scrutinizing of every word to determine what it means in context. Some will even capture a screenshot of deleted tweets and repost it elsewhere despite proof it’s false.
Professional news journalist always try to confirm information before reporting about it. The goal is to preserve their career and reputation with the public. Most times they will seek out confirmation from the person or business cited in the piece. When this fails, they’ll collaborate with several unofficial “insiders.”
Sometimes, they’ll interview an expert in the area for an opinion too. Even when speaking with an expert a good reporter will push them on whether such a connection can be made. Particularly if the expert takes a side either for or against the feasibility of the report when making a point.
Unfortunately, some individuals have taken fact checking to the extreme by confronting the accused. It can result in violent situations involving weapons and risking the innocent lives if not defused.
There are also independent groups such as Politifact and Snopes with a mission of exposing the truth. It might include performing blind studies, surveys, or spreading information from trusted whistleblowers. The online encyclopedia Wikipedia allows collaborative editing of text segments on their website. Established rules are in place to ensure all information includes a citation. Otherwise, a note will be visible indicating such information has not yet been verified. Speaking of notes, there are some social buttons floating around where you can share notes with the world.
Fun Facts About Innovators
Here are connections that use some of the techniques mentioned above. In most cases, research started with a Wikipedia entry and then followed up with the Google search tool to corroborate.
- General Electric has been involved in a variety of electronics industries including computers, power, and healthcare. Their engineer Ernst Alexanderson gave the first public demonstration of television reception in 1928.
- Johnson & Johnson sells many medical products including Band-Aids and Tylenol. They were incorporated in the year 1887, the same year Abraham Lincoln was re-buried with his wife in Illinois.
- Qualcomm manufactures the CPU found in most smartphones sold today. However, one of their first projects was a satellite communications system known as OmniTRACS used by the transportation industry.
- Symantec, best known for Norton-branded security software, was founded by Gary Hendrix who initially worked on computers that could understand natural languages such as English and French.
- Yamaha Motor, best known for their motorcycles, once teamed up with automobile manufacturer Toyota to create the Toyota 2000 GT sports car of which convertible models were used in a James Bond movie.
- Marissa Mayer, the president and CEO of Yahoo was born in 1975, the same year that the European Space Agency was formed.
- Clara Shih, the CEO and founder of Hearsay, grew up in Arlington Heights, Illinois. The same city where high school scenes in the movie “A Nightmare on Elm Street” were filmed.
- Bryan Cantrill, who invented real-time diagnostic software, had the “y” key on his keyboard fail in the middle of a question and answer session in 2004 and then repaired it in real time!
- Eric Migicovsky, who founded the Pebble watch successfully pitched his idea to Y-Combinator, that same company also provided seed money for Dropbox in 2007.
- Tony Fadell, the CEO of Nest programmable thermostats attended Grosse Pointe South High School. A school which also had hosted a Dr. Martin King speech titled “The Other America” in 1968.
- Jack Dorsey, CEO of the modern credit card reader Square had once started a company in 2000 for dispatching service vehicles via the internet.