Robert Schank's Maxims

Came across these gems sometime ago. Robert turns all that we believed in so far on the head! I love the last one best! :) And it is, oddly, the 11th maxim. Hmm.

1. Look for anomalies. Anomalies are where the action is, creatively speaking.

2. Listen. You can't find anomalies if you weren't paying attention to what was going on in the first place.

3. Find data. Before you make a theory, look to the world around you, ask yourself what is happening. The more you know the more you can create.

4. Classify, and invent new classifications. Their real value is the generalization they capture.


5. Make rash generalizations. The idea behind making rash generalizations is not to be right, but to be thinking.

6. Explain. When we learn something, it's because we have invented an explanation for it. We have explained it to ourselves.

7. Refuse to learn the rules. You must pick your spots for rebellion, be sure that you have reason on your side, and be prepared to take the consequences.


8. Reject old explanations. Ask why. [Authorities tell us to simple explanations to complex issues] . . . it is important to learn to distrust these explanations, not because someone is trying to fool you, but because the standard wisdom might be wrong.

9. Let your mind wander. . . . the process of letting your mind go where it wants can be useful if where it wants turns out to be an interesting place to go.... If you don't give your mind a little freedom every now and a again, it may stop wandering.

10. Fail early and fail often. Failure is a good thing. We learn from failure. Take a chance. Have an idea and allow the possibility that it might be a bad idea.

11. Reject all the above maxims. Who says I know what I'm talking about. Can we really enhance our creativity? That's a good question.

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