Compose a talk (a blog, a paper) with sticky notes

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This is my favorite way of constructing new talks now. Stickies that you can move around, just like manipulatives from grade school.

I came across an interesting idea in my recent reading, that your office should have 2 desks: one that has NO COMPUTER and only lots of paper, pens, stickies, glue, and other manipulatives. This is your CREATIVITY desk, where ideas come together, and the joy of using your hands, your mind, your physical space helps build connections, thoughtfulness, foster good ideas. Thanks to Austin Kleon and Steal Like an Artist.

Then, across the room, you set up a second desk. This is your PUBLISHING desk, and has a computer, a printer, and all the tools you need to electronify a finished set of ideas into a Presentation, a Blog post, a Manuscript.

And, never the ‘twain should meet! For computers, although great at publishing and formatting, can be DEATH to idea creation. Yes, I type faster and more legibly than I can write. Yes, pictures drawn in Powerpoint can be sharper and with straighter lines. But, can any tablet, laptop, desktop equal the ease with which we can sketch, scratch out, tape over, scribble, dog-ear, lay out a dozen books, cut out pictures from magazines, mash-up ideas quickly, reshuffle?

And, isn’t an idea “under the glass” (see book review: The Glass Cage) an anesthetizing soporific?

Don’t we want to “feel” something in our fingers? Run our fingers through the dirt? the sand? the snow? OK, I don’t miss paper cuts, sure. But, scribbling, taping, retaping, scribbling, drawing connecting lines, scribbling, erasing and blowing away the eraser-crud, isn’t that the stuff of imagination?

CMIO’s Take? When I say all this, I’m not sure if I’m a digital immigrant losing ground to digital natives (Mark Prensky, thanks), or if I’m rediscovering a general principle that the younger Boomers, the Millenials, Gen Y, Gen Z have all lost. What do you think?

Author: CT Lin

CMIO, UCHealth (Colorado); Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine

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