There was an op-ed in "The New York Times" last week that really got my gears turning. It was by a guy called Tim Kreider and it was titled "In Praise of Not Knowing." http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/opinion/19Kreider.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss The gist of the article is simple: it is the information we can't find that spurs the imagination.
Kreider worries that with instant accessibility to yottabytes of information on everything from Kim Kardashian's ample obliquity to the surface of Pluto, the thrill of discovery and imagination are gone. He writes "I hope kids are still finding some way, despite Google and Wikipedia, of not knowing things. Learning how to transform mere ignorance into mystery, simple not knowing into wonder, is a useful skill. Because it turns out that the most important things in this life — why the universe is here instead of not, what happens to us when we die, how the people we love really feel about us — are things we’re never going to know."
Pytka, in an interview in Adweek this week, says somewhat the same thing. http://www.adweek.com/sa-article/not-your-average-joe-132132
When asked what advice he would give to young creative he answers thus:
"You should be aware of the past but keep your mind open about how to do something in a new way. You can’t be too dogmatic. That’s why I’m not crazy about film schools because they teach dogma and creativity is all about breaking rules. You have to leave room for spontaneity."
So much of what we do in our business today is formulaic. Referential to what won at Cannes or D & AD the year before. The synthesized product of Award Show Processors with the life sucked out of it.
We deliver what best practices dictate. What clients and focus group respondents and chief experience officers and chief creative officers and account people expect and the CEO's wife expect the answer to be.
We know the answers before the question is even asked. Or we act as if we do. We don't ever gallop down discovery lane. We shy away from the different. We construct a safety net called "we've done it before," and we do it again.