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May 9, 2011

When Data Becomes Beautiful

Category: Design — Tags: — Sarah @ 10:17 am

Graphs usually don’t get people too fired up (other than maybe the occasional algebra teacher who has a penchant for parabolas). But infographics take a mundane thing like a graph and jazz it up to make it into a work of art. And thanks to clever infographics, algebra teachers, designers like us, and even the average dude or dudette can appreciate and enjoy a set of information in graph form.

From a design perspective, these infographics have totally got it goin’ on.

1. Cool Carbon Footprint

2. Super Social Networking Participant Gender Breakdown

3. Awesome Animal Infographic

4. Outstanding Online Shopping Infographic

5. Magnificent Mobile Marketing Data

Couldn’t ya just look at these things all day?  (You could?  Us too!  Check out this article more infographic fun.)

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May 2, 2011

Can Creativity Be Taught?

Category: Creativity — Tags: , , , — Sarah @ 11:48 am

Every day, pretty much everyone everywhere is creative. As they plan their days, craft their Facebook status updates, combine ingredients in the kitchen, and chat with their buddies, people are using creativity to come up with ideas and move forward with the best ones.

Still, there are some people who seem especially creative, aren’t there? Like that Martha Stewart-esque aunt of yours or that artsy girl at work. How do they come up with so many darn good ideas? And could they teach other people to be creative?

Toning and Honing

We came across a neat-o discussion on quora.com the other day about whether creativity can be taught. Our take on it? Creativity is one of the elements that makes humans what they are, and since everyone already uses some creativity, anybody can learn to improve their creative thinking skills and maximize their creative potentials.

Besides creativity, there are lots of skills out there that most humans develop naturally, but that education can improve. Take speech, for instance. Most people develop a functional use of speech pretty early on without any particular instruction. And the average Joe can get by in life with not much more than those basic language skills he picked up early in the game. But if Joe feels like taking some lessons and practicing, he can improve upon those basic language skills and become an especially articulate person. And with a lot of lessons and practicing, he could acquire even more complicated language skills – like, say, becoming trilingual.

Just like the average Joe can learn to build on his speaking skills, he can also learn to build on his creativity. Since Joe’s days in the sandbox, he’s been using creativity to play and invent and navigate through life, so his creativity muscles are there. If he wants to get them toned, there’s plenty he can do. He can open his mind to new ways of thinking by networking with particularly creative people who may have different backgrounds and experiences. He’ll learn a lot by finding out about the creative processes and inspirations of these creative minds.

While learning directly from people with strong creativity skills will help, Joe’s own creativity workout plan will help more. He can practice coming up with solutions to different problems and different solutions to the same problem. The more he flexes his creativity muscles, the easier it will be for him to come up with interesting ideas and solutions in the future.

Learning by Doing

So yeah. Creativity can be taught. But since creativity is all about coming up with unique ideas, what people are taught won’t go too far without plenty of practice.

After all, the most creative people you know aren’t spending their lives learning about creativity – they’re out there creating things.

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