Curiosity is a pencil – using randomisers to stretch thinking

I’ve been playing with random things and found this random metaphor generator called perchance. I’ve always loved random title generators and random lyruc generators and the embraced randomness of Dada. We can’t predict everything, but we can deliberately seek new inputs in order to twist up what we think is possible.

At first glance, it seems just a bit silly. Playing with metaphors? What a waste of time. But actually it can really deepen thinking.

Take the word ‘journey’ for example. Then use the perchance random object generator (a different version as the random metaphors are already paired). It is a spoon. It is a bird. It is a houseplant. Whatever is thrown up at you (it feels like a bit of an idea vomit), forces you to explore the original idea with a randomised lens. It stretches your thinking.

Here’s an attempt…

A journey is a spoon: The road is long and narrow (the handle) and tenuous because of its edges on either side. The destination (the bowl of the spoon) at the end could look different when you get there. When you look into it things can seem upside down. It may not be what you expected after the long handle of the walk. Or it might be full of something else, something to dive into and immerse yourself within. Or the journey may need to be flipped (the spoon turned over) in which case the convex side is like a slippery mountain. And when you get to the top, is it really the top? Or is the edge the top? And what do you see if not more of yourself? And yet maybe journeys are more about spooning, stacking spoons, collecting experiences to reflect on – then returning neatly to the drawer.

That’s a quick one, and it really isn’t bad. It was pushed out into the world through a randomising object matching algorithm and metaphor exercise.

Curiosity is a pencil. (That was another one). Keep writing, keep pushing, keep exploring. Curiosity means we keep wondering and keep connecting dots as much as we can – even random ones. Because the results can be quite wonderfully unexpected.

Stock image search for ‘curious pencil’ did not disappoint. Because unicorns.

This playful writing activity was so much fun. I attended an ideation webinar with Lynne Cazaly recently where we paired a problem with a random thing to try to help solve it. We used venn diagrams to explore random connections as a problem solving exercise. It really resonated with my interest in how we might use randomising algorithms purposefully to challenge what is possible. So here I am, exploring still.

What do you think? How might you use a randomiser to stretch your thinking?

And did you like the journey as a spoon? Leave a comment and let me know.


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