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Creativity seems to be an important buzz word these days. New ideas drive innovation in business, creativity in art and even individual self development.

Did you know that:

  • 82% of companies say there is a strong connection between creativity and business results.
  • Companies that actively foster creative thinking regularly outperform their rivals in revenue growth, market share and competitive leadership
  • Creativity is often a key differentiator in the success of a company’s individual departments and internal strategies*
  • A major study of creativity showed that in today’s globalized competitive context, organizations need to maintain their competitiveness by regularly generating new ideas, new products or services, and new processes.**

Creativity and Innovation are the next big things  in AI computing

But what, exactly is creativity?

It is difficult to define, and there are many different ways of looking at it. The Associative Theory of Creativity holds that  creativity is the process of combining elements in new and unusual ways and associative thinking can help connect those concepts ***

Creativity does not come out of nowhere like magic. It can be refined and improved with a variety of techniques, many of which we will cover here. Years of research into creativity have shown that most creative thinking comes from seeing relations between ideas that are not immediately obvious. For example, the airplane did not come out of nowhere, but rather was a combination of two existing things: a ship that sails in the ocean and a bird that flies in the sky. Once the insight arose that elements from these two could be merged into a new entity, the airplane was born. This process is at the root of many creative endeavors. Even the Internet itself, for example, is  a combination of  the display and processing power of computers and the communicative abilities of the telephone system. 

What makes someone creative? In psychology, research has identified that idea generation involves a repeated search process in associative long term memory…The ideation process has two stages. The first stage is a search of long term memory based on cues…and the consequent activation of a certain image. The image is temporarily stored in working memory. In the second stage, ideas are generated using the features of the image through different operations, such as knowledge combination and applying knowledge to a new domain (Nijstad, B.A. and Stroebe, W. 2006. “How the Group Affects the Mind: A Cognitive Model of Idea Generation in Groups.” Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10, 3, 186-213)

We hope that you will find the associative thinking aids provided by id8tr to be a good way to jump start your thinking on a variety of topics. Just start by typing in a basic word that you are interested in and follow the trail of ideas that result down whatever path they lead. You will be able to broaden your thinking in ways you might never have imagined, and see relationships between words and ideas that  open up new paths for your thinking.

Stay tuned to this blog to learn all sorts of interesting ways to think about creativity and to use our site. Good luck, have fun and remember to keep an open mind. You never know where something is going to lead.  



**Gabriel, A, et al. 2016. “Creativity Support Systems: A Systematic Mapping Study.” Thinking Skills and Creativity 21:109–122

***Source: Mednick, S. A. 1962. “The associative basis of the creative process.” Psychological Review 69: 220-232.


One of my favorite features of id8tr is the “looks like” page that displays images that are shaped similarly to your search term. This is a great way to think about whatever item it is that you are concerned with and explore ways that it could be improved, perhaps, or made different or more interesting.

The title above was made using this feature by simply asking id8tr to find items that are shaped similarly to the letters of the word “creativity.” It is important to note that this feature only considers the shape of the object, not its color or purpose or use, only the contours of the shape.

It was built in part by training a convolutional neural network on a large corpus of images. And, of course, like any system under development, some of the results are going to be better than others – you might have to think creatively about why the system suggested certain things, but if you look hard, I bet you will be able to see some similarities.

Creativity in Action

We can see some great examples of creativity in the world by looking at artistic works. A simple piece that I have always loved is Picasso’s Bull Head sculpture. Can you tell what it is made out of?

picasso bicycle seat bull head

If you guess that it is a bicycle seat with handle bars, you are right!

See how this creative genius was able to use everyday things in a new way to create a completely new thing.