Why the Entertainment Industry Should Care About Pc Over Ip


Film, animation and television industry creatives should take notice: new technology is now available that allows you to instantly share dailies in full HD, work with remote studios or work from home – while keeping your movies secure.

* Keep large video and animation file sets in the server room and off the desktop
* Protect against pre-release piracy
* Enable free seating for creative collaboration

The technology has been available for a while which allows companies to centralise their desktop IT, removing the computers from under people’s desks and replacing them with an energy efficient, small, quiet box called a “thin client”. A thin client is basically a screen directly connected to the internet.

Remote working

Many companies are choosing this strategy for their desktop computing because of the advantages of centralised management (no more crawling under desks fixing computers), as well as the ability to access a remote desktop from anywhere, allowing for remote and home working.

Technical limitations of thin clients

Hardware manufacturers are well aware of the current limitations of their technology, especially in terms of displaying streaming multimedia. Although standard thin client technology works really well for 90% of the cases where companies need to perform the usual office functions, there are some industries which have had technical issues which prevent them from fully adopting thin client technology. This is especially the case for the entertainment industry, which relies heavily on having instant access to large files of content rich multimedia.

New technology

This is where PCOIP comes in. PC-over-IP is a new technology that allows the desktop computer to, effectively, be moved to a central computer room so that the user only has a “thin client” on their desk. This is the same concept as with standard thin clients. The difference is that PC-over-IP uses a new technology which allows for improved streaming multimedia.

The performance of this technology is impressive. At a recent demo, the author saw a large monitor attached to a thin client the size of a VHS cassette (and mounted neatly to the back of the screen), with 3D animation, CAD imaging and an animated film streaming in realtime from a server in Canada. The one concern is network bandwidth utilisation, and any company considering this technology should make provisions for a very fast network.

This has some massive implications for the entertainment industry.

For animators, this means that remote animation teams working in different continents can now have centralised desktops located at the company headquarters, all working on the same servers and with all data stored centrally – and closer to the render farms.

You can share dailies in HD without file uploads. Because the compression used in this technology doesn’t effect the final pixel colour, you can review dailies in native playback.

You can relocate to your home studio. Because the experience of working on this system is just as it would be in the office, you’re no longer tied to your desk at work.

—- Amanda Dahl, Director at AWIC – Optimising your IT

About the author:


TV 2.0 – The Future Of Television And The Genesis Of A New Entertainment Form – Part 2


Though still in its infancy, the World Wide Web has already become a significant feature in all of our lives. The majority of us now access the Web throughout the day, both at work and at home. It’s profoundly altered the way we conduct business, and how we communicate with family and friends. It’s also changed how we entertain ourselves, but this paradigm shift has only just begun. As I wrote in the conclusion of Part 1 of this article, the Web has the potential to become its own entertainment medium, sharing content with movies and television, but also providing its own unique programming. So where will this new content come from?

Like no other distribution outlet before it, the Web offers the independent, semi-professional or niche video producer an ideal venue for reaching an audience. This is great news for young filmmakers, new talent, and artists who want to concentrate on reaching viewers beyond the film festival circuit. With distribution access on the Web, screening in a theater is no longer necessary. The economics of this are a potential boon for independent producers because, even though digital technology has made filmmaking cheaper, it is still by no means cheap if you want production values that rival what audiences are used to seeing in a theater or on their TV screens.

The same is true of music on the Web: more artists now have the chance to be heard, but the business is becoming more fragmented as a result. Apart from the purely manufactured and heavily produced acts that the major labels distribute, it will be harder to achieve the kind of recognition and fame that was possible in the past. The critical and financial successes bands like U2 or Coldplay eventually achieved will be harder for new acts without the support of an industry marketing machine behind them. Likewise, though young filmmakers don’t need to worry about finding distribution, it’s doubtful that most will ever get the kind of budgets and recognition most Hollywood filmmakers take for granted.

With the Balkanization of entertainment comes a problem in terms of content visibility. Right now, there are so many independent Web sites around, that it’s easy to miss great work. Most independent, producer-driven sites have relatively low traffic, certainly not enough to generate interest from significant advertisers which is the only way such producers can see revenue from their efforts. Getting quality content out of the niches and into the mainstream will be the domain of a new breed of entertainment provider: the Web video network. Like MySpace and sites like it have done for music, the successful Web video network will find, aggregate, and distribute a wide variety of fresh content to both niche and general audiences. As they serve various demographics, these new networks will have the ability to connect programming and advertising in a way that isn’t practical for an individual producer.

True, this system exists to some extent already, and has for quite some time (Atom Films and iFilms come to mind), but these currently function more like magazine racks than dynamic media companies. The new Web video network will have to be more than just a library if it intends to enable the future of Web entertainment. It needs to provide a branding experience similar to television, but with all of the choice, flexibility and scale that I talked about in Part 1. It also needs to actively pursue great, original programming. In order to make Web video profitable for the network and content producer alike, it also needs to connect content, viewers and advertisers with precision.

One of the great features of the Web, and what has been so refreshing about it, is that we have less interaction with traditional advertising than in other formats such as newspapers, magazines and television. Having been bombarded with an ever-increasing number of ads for decades, the public is becoming resistant to them. This is especially true of younger audiences who, studies show, are distrustful of advertising and therefore harder to reach. Traditional commercial advertising is an area of concern for broadcasters because of this, and no doubt the way in which television programming is paid for will undergo radical changes in the coming years.

TiVo has allowed people the option to skip advertisements that in the past they’d be forced to sit through. Watching programs through video on demand allows the same bypass, as almost all VOD programs are either commercial free, or very nearly so. However, as video sharing sites have proven, good commercials can be as engaging as the best programs, and be as frequently watched if the content is compelling enough. What we may see happen with TV 2.0 is that commercials will be fewer but better, and more expensive for the advertisers to buy time for. Product placement will also become more ubiquitous, with name brands liberally spread throughout a given program.

On the Web, commercials need to be more targeted, more precise and for an advertiser to try to do this would require more time and resources than they would be willing to allocate to the task. Likewise, for an independent content producer to attract the attention of advertising that might actually generate revenue, they’d have to be able to attract significant traffic beyond the reach of most stand-alone websites. Enter the Web video network. By aggregating content from various producers, and creatively approaching advertising in a method unique to the Web environment, these content providers can make entertainment advertising profitable without losing the consumer-driven focus that’s so crucial to captivating an audience.

By its nature, the Web will continue to be a democratic entertainment medium, but this doesn’t mean the major media companies can’t have a significant role to play. Though it’s hard to envision now, given the structure and economics of the entertainment giants, the short form, which is ideal for the Web,has potential even for them. Few realize it today, but daytime soap operas such as “The Guiding Light”, began as fifteen-minute daily installments (the soap opera format coming originally from radio). It wasn’t until 1956 that the first half-hour soap opera debuted, later expanding to the hour-long format we’re now familiar with. The short form has continued to be common overseas, where networks such as the BBC routinely schedule short-forms like “Story Makers”, a fifteen-minute per episode children’s program. “Creature Comforts”, which many Americans are familiar with as a half-hour program on BBC America, originally aired on the British network ITV in ten-minute episodes.

Just as iTunes changed the focus of music from the album back to the singles of yesteryear, I would say that original Web content is and will continue to be about the short and not the feature.

Short programs can be both entertaining and profitable, and offer new creative avenues for writers, directors and talent. Imagine a series like “Creature Comforts” being produced specifically for the Web, or a soap opera or drama made compact. The idea of quality episodic programming is realistic, and presents new creative and financial possibilities for everyone involved. The programs can be self-contained stories, known in television as anthologies (think “The Twilight Zone”), or episodic programs with a stable cast of recurrent characters. Soap operas, reality and lifestyle programs are an ideal place to begin and are already appearing on the Web. The short form opens up great opportunities for motion pictures as well. Prior to the changes brought about by TV in the 1950s, movie theaters screened feature films, cartoons, newsreels, comedic shorts and serials. It was only after television borrowed many of these formats and made them more profitable on the smaller screen that the motion picture studios stopped making them for theatrical release.

Obviously, redefining entertainment to include the short form as a stable product would require a significant shift in the way the major entertainment companies do business. As with most innovation these days, the early pioneers of original Web programming will most likely come from independent producers. Over time, as these shows prove themselves to be profitable, the networks and studios will come on board, operating cooperatively in much the same way as the motion picture studios, television networks, and indie production companies do today. Far fetched? It is not at all. It required the same imagination to take film out of the Nickelodeons and into the theaters. And what about television?

On September 7, 1927, Philo Farnsworth transmitted the first television image a simple straight line few could have realized how much this new technology would change our lives. Even when the first regular broadcasts began in the United States in 1928, with W3XK in Wheaton, Maryland, only the most visionary people could have envisioned the medium’s possibilities. Soon, however, television appropriated the news, soap opera, and game show formats from radio. Dramas came from live theater, and comedies initially followed the variety format laid out by Vaudeville. Over time, television refined these and it’s programming developed its own unique style. TV is now such a fixture in popular culture, that most of us can’t imagine living without it.

The Web as an entertainment medium has equally enormous potential, and can become something very different from the TV of today. It can provide a forum for amateurs and semi-professionals to share their work, and can also allow professional producers the chance to create profitable content. Just as television can take advantage of the computer screen and cell phone to make its content more portable, Web-originated content can flow in the opposite direction from your computer to your TV. Web networks, functioning much like cable providers, can aggregate and monetize Web programming unlike individual producers. Where and how we view a program will be up to us, and the Web’s potential as an entertainment medium of the future will only be limited by our imaginations.


A Guide To Creative and Radical Thinking


Radical thinking – that is, “thinking outside the box” – is where the great leaps forward are made in science, technology, art, and society. Creativity is the core of radical thinking, and creativity is more important than the average person believes or is aware of. “Be creative” is a phrase that we hear tossed around a lot, but the deeper creativity that drives the soul and inspires new ways of perceiving and living is really not appreciated as it should be, generally speaking.

Don’t believe this? Look at “American Idol”. Look at “reality TV”. Listen to pop music. You may like some or all of these things yourself, but no matter what your tastes are the fact is that these forms of expression don’t have much in the way of deeper creativity. They have nothing of radical thinking in them. Yet they are highly popular. Their popularity reflects our society in general, and it does not reflect a society of deep creativity or radical thinking.

Most people are fearful of thinking that is too far outside the norm. They might not even realize that they have that fear, but most people do. In fact, the fear of radically creative thinking even permeates the world of science. If a scientist challenges the notions that the Darwinian paradigm of evolution, the Big Bang, or the existence of dark matter are true (all of these concepts have serious holes in them), he is likely to be laughed at, ridiculed, or ignored. He may even have his career jeopardized.

The arts, too, suffer from blandness much of the time. Pop culture and music are really not about art and creativity but about entertainment. The same goes for Hollywood.

Conformist thinking is ubiquitous. The fear about radically creative thinking lies in the fact that it threatens people’s sense of security with its non-conformity.

But there are still radical thinkers out there, helping us along to higher perceptions and new breakthroughs. Radical, outside the box thinking is really glorious and liberating. How can you take part in it?

Instead of looking at the world the way it is and sadly asking “why,” get in touch with your own dreams and visions about how things can be and ask yourself “why not?”

Learn to be inspired instead of wanting to escape. This may mean radically changing your tastes and habits in viewing TV, listening to music, the places you travel to. True creativity is about inspiration, not about escapism – but most popular culture is about the latter.

Learn how to waste time creatively. Not everything you do has to be for the sake of a practical purpose, going from A to B. Don’t think of doodling as unproductive. Don’t think of just sitting and listening to music by yourself as lonely.

Read, listen to tapes, watch videos about something that you feel passionate about. Never stop learning, and don’t be controlled by what the media or the general populace tells you about the subject. Learn, absorb, and make up your own mind.

Learn a new creative skill such as writing poetry or playing a musical instrument. You’ll find this process can shake up your whole consciousness and get you thinking radically.

Learn that whenever someone appeals to “the consensus” or uses the phrase “I am entitled to my opinion” they are lying to you. They really are threatened by your non-conformity to their beliefs. Walk away from them.

Take the time to fantasize.

Apply these tips for radical thinking to your life and become a creative thinker.


How to Nurture Creativity in Your Kids


As parents, we all enjoy seeing our kids’ creativity. Sometimes, kids feel a little shy about expressing their creativity, or they don’t know where to start. Don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to encourage creativity in your children. As they get used to stretching their wings, they’ll also take pride in their accomplishments and creations.

1. Freedom
Allow your child the freedom to express herself. When she feels secure and supported, she will be more likely to be comfortable being herself. Give her materials to play with and allow her to express herself without criticism.

2. Respect
Offer your child respect in whatever they want to try. Help build his confidence in himself. This will make him feel comfortable taking risks and being original. Listen and respect his imagination. If he expresses doubt or seems afraid to try something new, encourage him to tackle an idea from different directions.

3. Appreciate their creativity
Encourage your child to be curious and have a sense of wonder in all around her. Acknowledging and appreciating her attempts at creativity will help her to have the courage to exercise her creativity again and again.

4. Enjoy the creativity!
Have fun with your child! Laugh, play, and create alongside him. Find humor in the world around you. Be silly… it is fun and stimulates creativity. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.

5. Enjoy success
Open opportunities for your children to try out new interests, experiences and new things. Maybe they’ll want to learn new skills. If they have new ideas, encourage them! When they learn it feels good to be successful, they will continue to be so. When they learn creativity is fun, they will seek out more opportunities to be creative.

6. Model creativity
As a parent, you are a primary role model for your child. Let her see you be creative. It doesn’t matter if you dabble in art, in knitting or in the kitchen creating new recipes. She will see you trying new things and venture to try a few things of her own.

7. Detach yourself from the outcome
Don’t pin everything on how his projects turn out. His creativity is his own. Be proud of your own creativity, and let him take pride in his. Encourage him to be proud of his work.

8. Focus on achievement, not grades
It is proper to encourage your child to do her best. It is great if she accomplishes her goals. Learning according to the book and getting high grades are not the ultimate goal in life. Imagination is an important part of life and creativity. By allowing her to follow her interests and achieve her goals, her creativity will blossom and help her achieve more in life.

9. Don’t worry so much about rules
Enclosing your child within too many roles is stifling and spells death to creativity. Instead, model your values and allow your children to fit their behavior to the values of the family. Creativity will be more likely to flourish when there is some freedom involved.

10. See your child as unique
Have the confidence in your child to be creative. Don’t expect him to always follow the crowd. If he expresses himself in an original way, support that. Your child will feel your confidence in him and act accordingly.


Ideas for Parents in Entertaining Kids to Keep Them Still


You want to check your emails from work and to do that, you need to find something entertaining to keep the kids at bay but within your supervision. You rummaged in our head ways to keep the kids’ attention away from you so you can focus on your work. You might have no babysitter scheduled or an emergency task from work came unexpectedly. Whatever has brought you the situation of having to look out for your kids, you need to find fast solutions in keeping their attention and keeping them still and behaved so you can manage them more easily.

DVD cartoon marathon is always a good idea with kids. When kids of ages around five to nine can still be entertained with all the 3D or anime animations and movies available in clear DVDs. Keep a healthy stack locked in your desk so that when situations like this arrives, you have around one or two CDs to put on the player to keep the kids at one place in your entertainment section of the house. The children will probably be thankful for the cartoons they will be watching and be amused by the love-able characters and moving stories of the animation movies. After a few hours, you get your separate work done and can hear all the excited stories from your kids about the movie they watched.

Engage your kids in arts and crafts for some time. Look for the some crafts that are safe to do for kids even if they are all alone in doing it. Avoid crafts that involve sharp tools like scissors, cutters, or similar tools to prevent accidents. Clay craft can be done by the kids and keep them preoccupied for a while. Sand artworks can be fun and safe to do. Finger painting with safe and non-toxic paint set is also a classic idea. Provide also an instructional and simple to follow craft book to go along with the tools. Look out for possible mess you have to deal with but you can also involve your kids in the cleaning up process afterwards. Give them an incentive for the best craft or art work that they can come up with. You not only develop their creativity but their friendly competitive spirit as well.

Old fashioned card and board games can keep them attentive for hours. Kids nowadays forgot all about the joy of playing with actual board and card games without the use of a game console or computer. Actual game paraphernalia can keep the kids preoccupied and focused in the game they play as they can actually hold the game elements in their hands. They will also have some time offline from their technological gadgets. You can join the kids later to have some real bonding when you are done with your thing.

So many kids today have attention problems due to the instant culture that technological gadgets seem to encourage among the youth. For the parents who do not know how kids can be kept attentive these ideas had hopefully enlighten you and gave you an idea on how to keep your children entertained, creative, and bonded for life.


Some Issues in the Entertainment World That Require Legal Help


When most people picture the work of an attorney, they probably imagine someone standing in front of a jury trying to convince twelve men and women, using strong facts and emotion, to see their way on a particular case. Thanks to television and movies, this characterization of a lawyer certainly is reasonable. And, there are amazing trial lawyers who do spend their careers in a courtroom arguing on behalf of their clients. The reality is, though, that the overwhelming amount of work that falls to most attorneys is done far from the spotlight created by a public trial. Instead, the men and women of the legal profession usually work behind the scenes to protect the professions, reputations, and finances of those for whom they work. Such is the case with the attorneys that practice entertainment law, and in Texas the need for such lawyers is found for a diverse set of circumstances within the many creative fields that find a home in our state.

Entertainment law covers a wide spectrum of issues that affect people who are in some way involved with the arts. Clients requiring the services of an entertainment attorney can include athletes, actors, singers, songwriters, producers and anyone else who uses their talents for enjoyment by the public. Just think about all of the ways in which someone in the field of entertainment would require legal protection. There is a constant threat to one’s reputation courtesy of disgruntled workers and paparazzi. Imagine if someone like Angelina Jolie and now Jon or Kate Gosselin had to address all of the tabloid rumors themselves. Also, there is the need to make sure that an actor will receive his due not only when a television show first airs, but when it lives on through syndication and DVD sales. With new technologies capturing movies and television programs in ways not anticipated just a few years ago, actors are eager to renegotiate contracts for future compensation. Or, suppose you are a serious artist whose paintings hang on the most respected galleries in Austin, Houston, San Antonio or Dallas. Do you want your artwork to be copied and then mass-produced onto t-shirts to be worn by every teenager in Texas? Through copyright laws, entertainment attorneys can protect your images so that they are used only in the context that you desire.

While there is no shortage of entertainment of any type in Texas, there are two areas that are of particular importance in our state. We have an amazing music industry in Texas, with Austin especially being known for its cultivation of talent. Singers, songwriters, music producers, record label owners-all have significant investment in the talent that is being packaged. Artist recording contracts must be written to determine a singer’s ties to a record label as well as the freedom he or she will have in the creative process. What if another artist loves your work and wants to integrate it into his own new recording? Attorneys will be needed to prepare the necessary licenses for music sampling. And, even though the singers who appear on stage in sold-out arenas and find themselves in heavy rotation on the weekly video countdown are the ones who usually get the glory for a great song, songwriters need to know that their work is being validated both financially and with due recognition when appropriate.

In addition to the wonderful music that Texans offer the rest of the world, everyone knows that the residents of our great state love their sports. Whether we are cheering on our favorite high school team under the lights on a Friday night or welcoming home the most famous cyclist on the planet from yet another improbable victory, we have an appreciation for athletes and the value that they bring to our recreational time. With this emphasis engrained on kids throughout the Lone Star State, it is no surprise that we have more than our share of athletes raised in our state. Also, great athletes come to Texas from around the country to play for one of our many professional organizations. All of these men and women need contracts to ensure that they are fairly compensated for their contributions to the sport of their choice. Over the course of a career, it is not unlikely that an athlete will need an attorney to assist with disputes involving agents, managers, or players’ associations. We all have seen the news stories detailing what happens when salary negotiations break down or a player doesn’t feel he is getting the time of the field that he deserves. What about the opportunities for income that may present themselves away from the sports venue? When you see Dale Earnhardt, Jr. endorsing Wrangler Jeans or Tiger Woods speaking of the great virtues of Gatorade, you can be sure that lawyers were involved in the negotiations for these partnerships.

Men and women who choose to pursue a career within the entertainment industry will almost certainly find the need for legal representation at some point. Even with the smoothest of professional experiences, entertainers must deal with such necessary acts as signing contracts, preparing a tour schedule, and lending their image to others seeking an endorsement. When problems arise, the issues are often magnified through the lens of celebrity and an aggressive and dedicated Entertainment law attorney is required. When an artist or athlete is not getting properly compensated, when efforts are made to extort money in return for tantalizing information that may or may not be true, or when injuries occur due to inappropriate working conditions, the role of the entertainment lawyer becomes even more imperative.

Due to its flourishing music scene and renowned athletic traditions, as well as efforts being made by our state to attract more movie production (notwithstanding Michigan and Louisiana), Texas easily can place itself among states like California and New York that perhaps are the most obvious locations in which entertainment law is prolific. If you live or work in Texas and have a connection to some aspect of an entertainment-related industry, you should make the retention of an attorney a top priority. When an issue develops that may affect your livelihood or even your very well-being, you will be able to take action immediately.


Physicians and Creativity


The day-to-day practice of medicine offers little opportunity for creative expression. We select antibiotics based on drug sensitivities, conform to “standards of care,” and, more and more, follow treatment guidelines. Nevertheless, physicians are, by and large, a creative bunch at heart.

Many experts on creative and critical thinking-such as Dr. Edward de Bono, author of Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step-by-Step, and Marlys Mayfield, author of Thinking for Yourself: Developing Critical Thinking Skills Through Reading and Writing, note that creativity is something we are born with. We have a natural drive to explore our environment and we take great pleasure in doing so.

For children, thinking “outside the box” is natural. It fact, it takes adults years of training to put us back into the box. Adults teach us social norms (most of which are good) and the many things we aren’t supposed to do. Unfortunately, adults often do their jobs too well, and before we know it we’ve learned to be uncreative. We forget that we can be creative as well as socially responsible. We learn that it is safe to be conservative and let others think for us. Once in this comfort zone, we shy away from taking risks.

According to William C. Miller, author of The Creative Edge: Fostering Innovation Where You Work, the courage to take risks and persistence are the key characteristics of the creative person. In the information age, it is more important than ever to explore the way we think and to develop our creativity. The complexity of our environment and our lives is increasing, and the old rules either no longer apply or are less meaningful. The answers are changing because the questions are changing, and we can’t count on others to do our thinking for us anymore.

In order to be maximally successful, we have to think clearly and creatively. There are two steps to mastering the art of creative thinking. First we have to give ourselves permission to be creative. Then we have to focus on our own thought processes and make changes in the way we approach and analyze problems.

So what is creative thinking? Simply put, creativity means thinking in new ways. Thinking creatively means letting your imagination run wild without constraints. It means inventing new ideas that you never had before. This can be scary, but it can also be a lot of fun. According to Michael White, author of Leonardo: The First Scientist, Leonardo da Vinci not only painted the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper; he was also one of the most creative individuals who ever lived. He let nothing get in the way of his explorations. He set no limits on his creativity, making discoveries in many completely different fields. We would do well to keep him in mind and let our creative juices flow.

One tried and true method for developing new ideas is brainstorming. This simple yet powerful technique, familiar to many, involves getting together a small group of people with the specific purpose of attacking a problem and coming up with new ideas about how to solve it. A leader should be identified, to moderate a meeting lasting from thirty to sixty minutes. The leader’s job is to elicit possible solutions from the members in an uncritical way.

Every idea, no matter how crazy it may sound, should be recorded by one of the group members for later discussion and analysis. Roadblocks preventing a solution of the problem to date should also be identified. The leader can then take the information, clarify it if necessary, categorize it if possible, and then present it at a subsequent meeting. It is only at this latter meeting that the ideas generated are critically analyzed for their strengths and weaknesses.

The makeup of a brainstorming group is important to its success. People familiar with the problem at hand obviously should be included. However, several people not directly involved (or even from a completely different industry) should be included in order to ensure a broader perspective.

No new ideas will be generated if an authoritarian leader organizes a brainstorming session attended only by yes-men. The answers obtained will be politically correct but otherwise useless, or even dangerous. Think of the disastrous results that stemmed from the brainstorming session Richard Nixon had with his advisors prior to the Watergate debacle. The Bush administration has, perhaps, shared a similar fate.

Brian Tracy develops a strategy similar to brainstorming that he calls “mind storming.” Tracy is the author of many books and audiotapes, including 100 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws of Business Success. You begin mind storming by writing the problem you want to address in the form of a question at the top of a page. Then list twenty answers to the question. Next, select what you feel is the best answer that can be implemented. The next day, change the answer into a question and then find twenty answers to the new question. Repeat this process for five days and you will have 100 creative ideas to solve your original problem. The author claims that this technique is one of the very best ways to be creative.

Another variation is a technique called “mind mapping,” popularized by Michael Gelb, author of the audiotape Mind Mapping: How to Liberate Your Natural Genius. In mind mapping you place the problem to be addressed in the center of a sheet of paper in the form of a symbol or picture. Then you use radiating lines to connect associations, which are recorded as printed keywords. Colors, codes, and symbols are used to highlight various aspects of the Mind Map. Different sizes of writing and upper and lower case can also be used to highlight differences. Associations between keywords can also be connected. The author says this technique can be used for life planning, goal setting, conflict resolution and negotiating, organizing meetings, and just about anything else one wants to understand.

This technique is different from outlines in that the organization is more free-flowing and nonlinear. This allows greater use of the right brain, where much of our creativity takes place. The author claims great results using mind mapping. Incidentally, Michael Gelb is also the author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day.

A more advanced mind mapping software, which is what I use, called MindManager Pro 7, is available at the Web site “Mindjet.”

In addition to the techniques described above, there are a few general principles that can be applied across the board to help improve creativity. For example:

  • Visualize positive results. Reframe “problems” into “opportunities” for creative thinking. This may seem like a fine semantic distinction, but having a positive attitude can make all the difference in the world. Remember, to be highly successful you must constantly visualize yourself as being successful. Do not allow the concept of failure or defeat into your vocabulary or your thinking. Accept failure and move on. When failure does come, accept it, see it as a learning experience, and go on to the next challenge.
  • Create a positive environment. Surround yourself with positive, results-oriented, energetic individuals. Do not associate with naysayers.
  • Work in creative bursts. Focus intensely on a specific problem or task for short bursts of time. Then do something completely different and bring your full concentration to bear on this new problem. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes this concept of “work hard/play hard” in detail in his bestseller Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Conducting your life in this manner enables your subconscious to work harder to help you solve problems.
  • Allow yourself to relax and have fun. Creativity increases when our level of stress decreases. Similarly, be rested when you tackle problems.
  • Know that thoughts are different from actions. Our brains often interpret thoughts as reality. That is why visualization is so powerful. Allow yourself to have wild, crazy thoughts. Challenge the status quo. Thinking doesn’t mean you have to act on your thoughts. You don’t even need to let others know what you are thinking.
  • To be creative means to change your thinking. If you keep on thinking the same old thoughts, you aren’t going to be creative. Think of your problems as someone else’s. If a friend had your problem, how would you help him or her? If it were not your company but a different company that had the problem, what advice would you give? What roadblocks would you have to overcome? What hard choices would you have to make? Try to be less emotional and more objective about the problem.
  • Continue your education and broaden your experiences. Read widely, visit other industries, attend seminars (other than just the usual medical conferences), travel, and so forth.

To put it briefly and succinctly, vary your sensory input and think about life as we assume Leonardo da Vinci did. Learn to question everything. A good way to get your creative juices flowing is a card deck called A Whack on the Side of the Head, Ancient Whacks of Heraclitus, created by Dr. Roger von Oech www.creativethink.com. Also, check out the Web site TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) for some interesting and innovative videos.

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