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Thought Catalysis

Posted by eitan on May 3, 2006 at 7:42 AM PDT

Recently some new ideas have come to me out of activities that I
did not expect would generate any. In this blog entry I'd like
to enumerate sources or catalysts for ideas, for generating
thoughts.

  1. Revisiting things you already know: you will likely see them from a new
    point of view. This will usually happen because time has passed. You've
    changed, you're not exactly the same person you were when you originally
    studied the material. That's what happened to me as I prepared to give
    my set of talks at NFJS last weekend.

  2. Attend talks given by others. It's very likely that the same topic
    will be presented from a different angle, a different point of
    view.

  3. Get together with other developers. A NFJS conference might
    do the trick. JavaOne is coming up. Maybe your local JUG meeting.

  4. Even if a topic is not related to the work that you're currently doing,
    you might be surprised to find once in a while that a situation is
    discussed that is analogous to yours, albeit in a different domain,
    a different context.

  5. Provoke thoughts in others. That has the tendency to amplify the thought
    process. You might not be prepared for an avalanche of feedback, ideas
    triggered by your original provocation. That happened to me recently
    after I demo'd some software I was working on to a couple of friends
    / colleagues.

  6. A few friends recently decided to get together for Friday lunch meetings.
    It's been a great opportunity to discuss what each of us are working
    on, articles or books we came across that grabbed our attention or interest.
    We always have more to talk about than time available, which is a
    positive sign.