Archive for the ‘Simplicity’ Category

Offside Rules Stifle Creativity

In Beating the Odds, Creative Culture, Creativity, Education, Simplicity on 2010/07/06 at 9:56 pm

The offside rule in football (soccer) dates back to the early 18oos.  It is designed to curtail creative moves by the advancing team by penalising its active player if he has the ball ahead of all but one of the defenders:

“Offside position: It is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position.  A player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.  A player is not in an offside position if he is in his own half of the field of play, or he is level with the second-last opponent, or he is level with the last two opponents.

Offence: A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by interfering with play, or interfering with an opponent, or gaining an advantage by being in that position.

No offence: There is no offside offence if a player receives the ball directly from a goal kick, a throw-in, a corner kick.” — FIFA Laws of the Game

With improved ball-handling techniques and fitter players (who can cover over 10km in a game), the offside rule has become an increasing restriction to game flow and goal scores.  It may be time to ditch it and have the referees better spend their time watching the goal line instead.

Another offside rule that stifles creativity is arts-science streaming in schooling.  It generally goes by the rule that the academically inclined should pursue the sciences and downplay or even ignore the arts, which usually includes the humanities.  This ‘rule’ is becoming increasingly ridiculous in our multi-disciplinary world where creativity is best found in intersections of disciplines.

I was fortunate to escape the arts-science offside rule.  When I was studying for “o-Levels” in 1971 at a small public library in Kuching, Sarawak, I fortuitously came across a book on american architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  A picture of his “Fallingwater” house cantilevering over a waterfall at Bear Run, Pennsylvania, leap out the pages at me.  I remember rushing back to speak to my Principal, Nigel Heyward, about it.  He made an exception for me to study both science (physics, maths and chemistry) and art.  I went on happily to study architecture in Nottingham, England.  Needless to say, I am an advocate of removing the arts-science offside rule.

I have also not forgotten the librarian who probably went against the wisdom of the day by placing an architecture book in the midst of hard-core science and technology dominated bookshelves.  We need more such agents of creativity to beat offside traps.

Another example of visual thinking

In Beauty, Creativity, Education, Process, Simplicity, Transformation on 2010/04/18 at 6:46 pm

Visual thinking can often simplify a problem to be solved. Take the case of the simple area calculation, below, by shape rearrangement and inversion. Jumping in with brute force math is for the ‘left-brainers’!

[Click here for alternative link to YouTube animation]

There are many exciting possibilities of being able to think visually. They are divergent, exploratory and do not attempt to be ‘correct’; pace Gestalt Psychology. Watch this space.

Visual Thinking in Practice

In Beauty, Creativity, Simplicity, Transformation on 2010/04/03 at 11:37 pm

Many know about visual thinking or “visual literacy” but consider it unreliable and ‘fuzzy’. It’s not.

Take Pyhtagoras Theorem (arguably the most useful) – given a right-angled triangle the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle), c, is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides, b and a—that is, a²b²c².  Using it in everyday is one thing but try to prove it.

You actually need to know a few more theorems if you try the Eucliden way, and a lot of math if you go algebra.

So, how about this for a proof by visual arrangement and emergence:

Simplicity Shanghai

In Simplicity on 2010/01/07 at 12:23 am

A photo essay on simplicity from a typical day in old Shanghai (September 2008)

Creative Commons License
Photos from Shanghai, China by Dr Milton Tan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Singapore License.