Where do innovation and creativity come from?

Creativity and innovation seems to be the flavour of the month. Watch this video with the key authors who wrote books on innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship: Matt Ridley, Steven Berlin Johnson, Jonah Lehrer and Peter Sims. They talk about why brainstorming doesn’t work, why it’s essential to cultivate eclectic connections and how to get the next great idea in a warm shower. All the books written by the speakers are highly recommended for anyone interested in creativity, innovation, success in business or is an entrepreneur:
 Jonah Lehrer: Imagine: How Creativity Works
Matt Ridley: The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves
Steven Berlin Johnson: Where Good Ideas Come From: The Seven Patterns of Innovation
Peter Sims: Little Bets – How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries 

Book bags by Olympia Le-Tan – too small for iPads

Olympia Le-Tan, book bags clutch selection

Olympia Le-Tan, book bags clutch selection

You can’t judge a book by its cover. Olympia Le-Tan, French kooky accessory designer (who honed her craft at Chanel and Balmain before setting up her own label) puts a new spin on this saying. The book-bags are bounded with silk, hand embroidered with black satin and lined with Liberty print poplin and with £1000 tag (sold out at time of writing this blog). Michelle Williams, Natalia Vodianova, Natalie Portman, Clémence Poésy and Tilda Swinton are fans of Olympia Le-Tan. Unfortunately, the size of the book bags is just a bit too small (6″ x 8″ x2″) to carry iPad (7.31″ x 9.50″ x 0.37″) but otherwise perfect for the Kindle.

31 Ways To Get Smarter In 2012 – according to Newsweek

New Year – new beginnings and apart of using speed reading to know more here are 31 tips collected by Newsweek and backed up by scientific research. Most of them you probably know by now but some might surprise you. Summary of all the top tips to get smarter in 2012 and here’s the link to further explanation if you need it.
1) Play Words With Friends
2) Eat Turmeric
3) Take Tae Kwon Do – or anything physical: dancing, tennis, etc
4) Get News from Al Jazeera – can make you more open-minded
5) Toss your smartphone – at least for a weekend
6) Sleep. A Lot. – especially when you’re learning a lot
7) Download the TED app – the best library of talks on almost everything
8. Go to a Literary Festival – research suggests that reading novels will make you smarter
9) Build a ‘Memory Palace’
10) Learn a Language – Michel Thomas tapes are excellent start for beginner Spanish, German, Italian, French
11) Eat Dark chocolate – of course! yummy
12) Join a Knitting Circle – surprise here
13) Wipe the Smile Off Your Face – we suggest smiling to get into a good state (endorphin effect) but frowning apparently makes you more analytical and sceptical
14) Play Violent Video Games – not sure here, there must be better and more peaceful way – who sponsored this study
15) Follow these people on Twitter: Economic genius Nouriel Roubini (@Nouriel), online show host Jad Abumrad (@JadAbumrad) and author Colson Whitehead (@colsonwhitehead).
16) Eat Yogurt (probiotics)
17) Install SuperMemo (a flash card program)
18) See a Shakespeare Play – engages your brain more actively than most texts. Check the summaries of all Shakespeare plays
19) Refine Your Thinking
20) Hydrate – drink more H2O
21) Check out iTunes U
22) Visit your local Art Museum
23) Play a musical instrument – I wonder if Garage Band counts
24) Write by Hand – this one is very interesting since we type so much. Other studies suggest that by committing in writing to a goal/task we increase the chances of accomplishing that goal/task. The second best way is to tell somebody about your commitement.
25) The Pomodoro Technique – this mysteriously sounding technique is just a simple management technique of working in 25 minutes sessions (in speed reading we suggest 20 minute working sessions because basically you can and Parkinson’s law states that the task expands to the time available)
26) Zone Out
27) Drink Coffee – to boost short-time memory and keep depression at bay
28) Delay Gratification – key habit of successful people and builds executive functioning
29) Become an Expert
30) Write Reviews Online
31) Get Out of Town

We personally would add three more tips (3R – or three qualities if you like) that will ensure you become smarter this year and beyond:
1) Reflection – reflect on the day’s learnings (what you’ve learned which builds your knowledge and what you should unlearn to build your wisdom, according to Lao Tzu) – keeping a daily journal or diary will help with these – according to the tip 24 ideally written by hand
2) Relationship – everything from quantum bits to learning a new language to encounters on the street depends on the mastery of this
3) Resilience – one study suggests that the act of listing your many identities (father, mother, surfer, British, Buddhist, driver, speed reader, etc) will build your resilience.


Future of information processing and delivery – animated infographics (example: history of iPhone)

Printed books (as we know them) have dominated the transfer of information, knowledge and wisdom for over 600 years. Digital technologies allow for better presentation of information. Visual language was the original concept behind presenting information in less linear and wordy formats. Animated infographics are paving the way to quicker, more effective ways to present information. Here’s an example of the history of the development of iPhone in an animated infographic video. However ineractive apps are the real future of information delivery. One of my favourite apps is ZITE – where the app is actually learning what I like to read and finds the appropriate information, saving me lots of time.

  • Animated history of the iPhone
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Spd Rdng (speed reading) technique: first and last – validated by new research. Knowing the ending of the book is good for your learning.

Spd Rdng (speed reading) technique 37: read beginnings and endings – validated by new research. Knowing the ending of the book is good for your learning.
We’ve pointed out from the brain’s point of view that an ideal way to read a book is to start with the first chapter (which tells you what it’s going to be about) and the last chapter (which tells you the conclusions). The only downside when it comes to novels might be that it spoils the ending for you. However, new research undertaken by Nicholas Christenfeld (Professor of social psychology at the University of California, San Diego) and Jonathan Leavitt (PhD candidate at UC San Diego studying psychology) shows that people typically enjoy a book more when they know the ending in advance – even when the story has an unexpected twist at the end. (Which explains why we’re happy to go to the the same film or to reread a book again and again.) So now there’s even more reason to use the technique with factual material – knowing the conclusion means that you know which information is important as you go along. If you don’t know the end then everything is of equal value. They always said that hindsight is 20/20! Read more about this speed reading technique.

Soundtracks for books (with Booktracts) – Immersive reading vs speed reading

New idea for book reading: just add ambient and contextual soundtracks to books. Booktract – with it’s soundtracks for books is trying to enrich people’s experience with books by filling them with appropriate background sounds, sound effects, etc synchronised with your reading speed. Yes, sounds interesting so I’ve downloaded a free Booktrack soundtrack book/app – Sherlock Holmes. There are a few functions that speed readers might want but they’re actually counter intuitive. For example, there is a reading indicator which is there to help you pace yourself and you can adjust it but it is all too mechanical and works only at the regular limited speeds.  And what’s worse is that if you choose the underline or ball indicator it jumps under or over each word respectively. There is a slider indicator on the right hand side that points only at the line but again the problem is the speed. As all speed readers know, in order to read fast and with comprehension, we need to read meaningful chunks of words, not individual words (speed reading principle number 6: read the message not the words – and principle number 11: focus on hot spots of information, in our Speed Reading Bible). This reading indicator can potentially harm your reading by instilling in you a bad habit for reading ie reading word by word (as opposed to speed reading principle number 8: take fewer steps per line). There is an on/off button. However, the soundtrack won’t be synchronised with the speed of reading. There is a speed reading test where you can check how fast you’re reading though and then use that to set the reading indicator speed. There is a slider to adjust the reading indicator which limits your reading speed to 700wpm (word per minute) which might be slow for some speed readers. But the major problem it that it is designed for novels and to read them for pleasure you need to read them at different speeds in whatever way pleases you.
I’m sure people will try it a few times and time will tell if it will take off in a big way beyond the novelty factor (although they have big companies such as Sony and HarperCollins backing them). It might take some time to get used to the whole idea. Interactive books are the future though – for example Vooks. It should work for children’s books. I’ve looked at some kids books (for example on iPad: The Fantastic Flying Books ) and they’re amazing and very cheap. I wonder what kind of soundtrack they would add for summaries of books such as Passing Time in The Loo – Book Summaries.
Read more about Booktracks – soundtracks for books and immersive reading



Research Proves that Water (with fluoride) Lowers your IQ

30 studies that link fluoride to reduced IQ, impaired neurobehavioral development, and fetal brain damage have come from China where fluoride occurs at moderate to high levels in the drinking water in what is known as “endemic areas for fluorosis.” While there have been shortcomings in the methodologies of some of these studies, they have been remarkably consistent in their findings. Children exposed to excessive fluoride have been consistently observed to suffer from some form of neurological impairment.
• 24 studies have now reported an association between fluoride exposure and reduced IQ in children
• Three studies have reported an association between fluoride exposure and impaired neurobehavioral development
• Three studies have reported damage to the brain of aborted fetuses in high fluoride areas, and
• Over 100 laboratory studies have reported damage to the brain and/or cognitive function among fluoride-exposed animals. (Connett P, Beck J, Micklem HS. 2010. Appendix 1, Fluoride and the Brain in The Case Against Fluoride. How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Keep It There. Chelsea Green Publishing, VT. 2010.)
The solution: install  a whole house water filter that filters fluoride. Recommended filter (mention my name Jan Cisek and you’ll get 10% off the filter) and switch to non-fluoride tooth pastes.  Further  reading and all the research

London Riots, Books and the Psychology of Looting

While  psychologists try to explain the UK riots, as an Environmental
Psychology student I was particularly interested in what kind of shops the
looters were robbing. What choices were they making as consumers?

Not good ones, apparently. To quote one reporter, they are a mob and a mob
with bad taste – since the shops they concentrated on looting were Primemark
and poundstores.

Not only that, but in Clapham Junction, London, where almost all the shops
in the high street were looted, one was left untouched by rioters –
Waterstones bookshop (according to Zoe Williams in The Guardian). Are these
looters unable to read?

Some have said that a large number of youngsters were involved in these
riots because it was the school holidays, the nights are longer, and they
were doing it for the buzz. Is the implication that if they had only been
able to get hold of a gripping book, they might have kept out of trouble?

To give the looters the benefit of the doubt, maybe they are digital readers
with free Kindle apps downloaded to their BlackBerries (did they remember to
nick Blackberries and iPads?). Or maybe at this very moment they are reading
ebooks such as Frickonomics, or Malcolm Gladwell’s latest or bestselling
summaries such as Passing Time in the Loo
or even our own Spd Rdng – the
Speed Reading Bible

Hmm. I somehow doubt that. But at least they were not into burning books.


10 technologies that will change the world in the next 10 years

Dave Evans (Cisco’s chief futurist, and the chief technologist for the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group) outlins what he believed to be 10 technological trends that will change the world in the next 10 years.
1. The Internet of Things: There are now more things are connected to the Internet than people. By 2020, the number of Internet-connected things could be more than six devices for every person on Earth.
2. The Data Flood: About 5 exabytes of unique information were created in 2008 — the equivalent of a billion DVDs. In 2011, it will be 1.2 zettabytes (one zettabyte equals 1,024 exabytes.) More reasons to learn speed reading but hopefully technology will be able to do that for us.
3. Wisdom of the cloud: one day all data will live on the cloud ready to be accessed at any time.
4. The next ‘Net: Network performance has increased by 170,000 times since 1990. Over the next 10 years, experts expect the speed to networks to increase by 3 million times.
5.The World Gets Smaller: With always-on connectivity, social influences will continue to move rapidly between cultures. A smaller world also means faster information dissemination.
6.The Power of Power: As the human population also continues to grow, more efficient methods to provide power are becoming a necessity, particularly solar energy.
7. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot: 3D printing. Most homes will own a 3D printer which will allow to print most objects and then ultimately human organs. For example, this bicycle was printed using a 3D printer
8. Another Family Tree:
 Virtual humans, both physical (robots) and online avatars will be added to the workforce. By 2025, the robot population could surpass the number of humans in the developed world. By 2035, robots could completely replace humans in the workforce.
9. Yes, there’s a cure for that: the technology will advance so much that most illnesses will be curable.
10. Humans or Borg? “Humans are entering a stage of self-designed evolution.” said Stephen Hawking,  Taking the medical technology idea to the next level, healthy humans will be given the tools to augment themselves. Just look at some of the examples of technological advances so far:  Spanish researchers discover substance for photographic memory (July 2009), Italian and Swedish scientists develop the first artificial hand with feeling (October 2009), retina implants restore vision to blind patients (March 2010), Texas Heart Institute develops a “spinning” heart with no pulse, no clogs and no breakdowns (June 2011)..  Read more

How many books will you read in your lifetime?

How many books will you read in your lifetime? is the title of  an article by Mark Mason. He thinks he can’t read more than 800 books in his lifetime. If he could only learn speed reading then that would change. But more important question is posted on the comments part: “it doesn’t matter so much how many books you read, but what those books gave you”. We all ultimately want wisdom, not more knowledge. There is no shortage of knowledge, what’s missing is wisdom and overviews. Famously Lao Tsu said , “To become more knowledgable, each day learn one new thing. To become wise, each day unlearn one thing.” And remember to be aware of homo unius libri (Latin, meaning “man of one book”). David Beckham once claimed to have read only one book, on an England trip to Moldova but couldn’t remember the title. He was in his early twenties then. Read in full the article “How many books will you read in your lifetime?” For the record I’ve probably read about five thousands books so far and I intend to read thousands and thousands more (especially now when ebooks are very easy to carry around in my iPhone). But there are probably only a few hundreds of books that made a huge difference on my life and that I will treasure forever.  The shortcut to wisdom and quickly accessible knowledge are of course summaries. Read more about the power of summaries.

How to Hold Your Pen or Pencil Correctly in the Most Ergonomic Way (like Taylor Swift)

How to hold a pen or pencil correctly and ergonomically

Taylor Swift holding pen correctly

Taylor Swift holding her pen correctly (and ergonomically)

What if I told you most of us hold our pen and pencil the wrong way? We tend to hold a pen between the thumb and index finger, however, there is a much better and more effective way to do that.
According to a research by Dr. Hideki Oshiki from Joetsu University of Education in Japan, holding a pen correctly could save you energy but 90% of people hold their pen the incorrect way.
In fact, holding a pen between the index and middle finger is the right way. This kind of grip is achieved effortlessly by children and practiced by painters and artists, including famous American recording artist Taylor Swift, pictured.

Continue reading

How to improve memory

How to improve memory
In ancient Greek and Roman times, memory was greatly valued – the word itself comes from the name of the Greek goddess of memory, Mnemosyne. Roman senators had to address the senate without written notes, so they perfected ways of improving their memories, and identified the two main principles underlying conscious memory: imagination and association. You associate the thing you want to remember with something fixed, and then you use your imagination to make the picture as vivid as possible. The Romans associated their ideas with fixed points around the room they were talking in, and then referred to them (which gives the English expressions: In the first place …, in the second place …, etc.) The peg-word and link-word systems involve learning a series of items linked to numbers (1=sun, 2=shoe, etc, or a phonetic system which can run into the thousands). This is the list to which you then ‘peg’ the items you wish to remember by creating vivid images involving the peg word and the item to be remembered. Alternatively create a story in which a series of items are linked sequentially.

We remember
• information important for our survival
• what we find meaningful
• what we give attention to
• what we practise
• what we link to things we already know
• what we encode using mnemonics, etc

The main things which naturally help information move into long-term memory are: emotional  impact, repetition and urgent need. The principles you can use to help you memorise things are:
• imagination: Make mental pictures
• association: Find as many links with other things as you can
• exaggeration: Make things bigger, brighter, louder
• absurdity: Imagine ridiculous associations
• humour: Make things funny
• colour: Try colour-coding associated items and ideas
• sensuality: Involve as many senses as possible
• sexuality: We remember things connected with sex
• movement: Link items to movements, gestures and facial expressions
• order and sequence: Things are easier to remember if they are ordered or
sequenced (just putting items and objects into categories can be enough to
remember them)
• songs, rhymes, jingles and raps: These are natural memory enhancers

Review periods
The most effective review periods to ensure things are retained are after 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month
(From Transforming Learning: Introducing SEAL Approaches by Susan Norman)

According to recent research cumin can enhance memory and cognition, as determined by acquisition, retention, and recovery in the rats. Read more about cumin and memory

Read 7 tips to improve your memory

Come to your senses: how much information your senses process

Come to your senses:
The eye takes in 10 million bits of information per second and deals consciously with 40.
The ear takes in 100,000 bits of information per second and can deal consciously with 30.
The skin takes in 100,000 bits of information per second and can deal consciously with 5.
We can smell 100,000 bits of information per second and can deal consciously with one.
We can taste 1,000 bits of information per second and can deal consciously with one.
From Human Physiology by Manfred Zimmermann’s Springer-Verlag 1989.

One-day Memory workshop – the perfect introduction to speed reading

Would you like to improve your memory? Remember more of what’s important to you? Then join us for this one-day special course on memory skills.
The workshop will be taught and facilitated by Susan and Jan, and will also include a 75-minute syntopic processing session  which is the perfect opportunity to experience spd rdng. The course is for people who have either completed, are enrolled on a Spd Rdng course or just interested in speed reading, learning and memory.  If we all bring one or two books on memory for sharing we’ll have the benefit of all the received wisdom on the subject.
TO BOOK: email Jan on jan@spdrdng.com DATE: Sunday 26 June 2011; 10am-5pm FEE: £99 VENUE: East Finchley N2 8LL (North London)
Testimonials from the course:
“Memory techniques work!” Student, London
“It was a very enjoyable and inspiring memory workshop.” Student, London
“Very clear and simple format for memory improvement.” Raina Malik, London

Top ten smart foods to boost your brain power

Certain foods are especially good at protecting the brain, nerve cells and blood vessels from the damage of aging as well as boosting your brain power. These are: blueberries, dark leafy greens, salmon, sardines, and herring, spinach, reed wine, or, better yet, grape juice, whole grains and brown rice, hot cocoa (my favourite), nuts (almonds and walnuts), olive oil and garlic. Read more about  foods that make you smarter

Good stress boosts exam success

Researchers have found that students with good stress get better results. The researchers from AQA exam board (Suzanne Chamberlain and Anthony Daly who’s study will be published in the Educational Research) suggest that the more pupils’ heart rates increases during an exam, the higher the marks they score, suggesting that increased heart rate is probably a sign of heightened alertness rather than nervous anxiety. It’s important to distinguish between ‘good’ pre-exam stress as nerves just before the event and the ‘bad’ variety involving lack of sleep, fatigue and guilt at not doing enough revision. Preparation, preparation, preparation. More on exam nerves

Reading as a teenager ensures a better job later in life.

Teenagers who read for pleasure are much more likely to get a better job when they become adults, according to an in-depth and long-running sociological study.
Reading as a teenager gets you a better job. Oxford University academics conducted a study of 17000 people born in May 1970. At the age of 16, in 1986, they were asked which activities they did in their spare time for pleasure. These answers were then checked against the jobs they were doing at the age of 33, in 2003. The researchers found a 39% probability that girls would be in professional or managerial posts at 33 if they had read books at 16, but only a 25% chance if they had not. For boys, the figures rose from 48% to58%. “Obviously reading is in itself a good thing. But we don’t think that is the main reason why they ended up going to university and securing good jobs.” said Mark Taylor of Nuffield College, Oxford. Read more…