I watched the videos for the World Science Festival – Notes and Neurons this week. The third video showed an interesting experiment that goes right to the heart of culture and it’s inhibiting effect on change. A singer from India listens to a excert of music and is then asked to add to it, and she sings her notes. The scale used in the excerpt is not the usual western diatonic major scale, but an Indian version which features a flatted second. She sings her part, extending the original excerpt, using the Indian scale.
Read an article on the flight from Bangalore to Paris that got me thinking. It’s in the Friday, Nov 20 World Edition of the NY Times, titled “License to Wonder” by Olivia Judson. She argues that scientific discovery that is fact based and creeps along incrementally does not lead to big breakthroughs. Effectively, some scientists follow the rules of discovery they are taught, and as a result, are unable to “break through” and make the big discoveries. Judson states that sometimes, the best approach is to be intuitive and speculative. The discovery of DNA is such an example.
In the context of innovation, an orderly and planned approach locks us in to the fact-based, incremental creep of discovery. Working instead on the edge of chaos offers more opportunities for discovery and innovation. As knowledge is created, the frontier of ignorance widens leading to more possibilities for discovery and innovation. A thought provoking article.