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Life Is Beautiful On The Edge
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Life Is Beautiful On The Edge


A short essay on creativity, chaos theory and jazz improvisation with a few nice ideas and cool pictures.

A short essay on creativity, chaos theory and jazz improvisation with a few nice ideas and cool pictures.

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  • On August 7, 1974, shortly after 7:15 a.m., Petit stepped off the South Tower and onto his 3/4" 6×19 IWRC (independent wire rope core [5]) steel cable. He walked the wire for 45 minutes, making eight crossings between the towers, a quarter mile above the sidewalks of Manhattan. In addition to walking, he sat on the wire, gave knee salutes and, while lying on the wire, spoke with a gull circling above his head.Petit born 1949, still walking…
  • The trunk is a development of the entire upper lip and front part of the face. Mammals have lots of facial muscles, which in the elephant have become elongated to make the trunk very sensitive and flexible. In the fossil record, elephants and their relatives are easy to identify because, unlike other tusked mammals, their tusks are overdeveloped incisor teeth. What we see, if we arrange these fossils in order from oldest to youngest (using evolutionist timescales), is the gradual increase in the size of the trunk from just an enlarged upper lip (e.g. in the Moeritherium, somewhat like a tapir) right through a series of gradations to the enormous trunks of modern elephants.


  • 1. Life is Beautiful on the Edge
    Rich Hadley
  • 2. Saltstraumen, Norway
    The world’s most powerful Maelstrom (sea whirlpool)
  • 3.
  • 4. Two times each day, the tide falls calm…
  • 5.
  • 6. Rules of Edge of Chaos
    Complicated behaviour
    A few fundamental rules (Deep Simplicity)
    Effort (energy) needed to sustain: constant pull to attractors - static structures and random chaos
    Surprise Exists - systems adapt unexpectedly to unpredictable changes
    Mistakes occur - they can be useful in evolutionary terms
    Edge of Chaos:
    The natural state between order and chaos, structure and surprise
    The unstable meeting point where creation, and creativity is born…
    • Complicated behaviour
    • 7. A few fundamental rules (Deep Simplicity)
    • 8. Effort (energy) needed to sustain: constant pull to attractors - static structures and random chaos
    • 9. Surprise Exists - systems adapt unexpectedly to unpredictable changes
    • 10. Mistakes occur - they can be useful in evolutionary terms
  • Philippe Petit: "When I see three oranges, I juggle; when I see two towers, I walk."
  • 11. A Butterfly’s Wing
    Creation (and Creativity) occurs at the unstable edge of structure and chaos
    Creation is a word that means Change
    Small changes can have big effects; big changes, small effects
    Effects are unpredictable; life itself is at the Edge of Chaos…
  • 12. Tacoma Narrows Bridge (1940-1940)
  • 13. Edge of Chaos – The Rules of Nature
    The Edge of Chaos: Rules of the Universe
  • 14. Unpredictable – things happen by chance, constant surprises, unique things about to happen.
  • 15. Learning and Feedback - many moves and combinations take place which feed back into the next set of moves. Evolution is a process of refining and perfecting.
  • 16. Uncontrolled: there is no precision planning, little formal structure structure, simply the ever-changing kaleidoscope of interlocking movement driven by the onward march of time.
  • 17. Meet “Ida” - Darwinius masillae in Messel Pit, Germany. She is classified as an early Prosimian (Lemur)
    Inefficient: some moves are wrong, some are right. (Some of the wrong moves turn out to be very useful in evolutionary terms)
  • 18. Random Mutations create new possibilities, new opportunities
  • 19. “The Tacoma Narrows bridge failure has given us invaluable information...It has shown [that] every new structure [that] projects into new fields of magnitude involves new problems for the solution of which neither theory nor practical experience furnish an adequate guide. It is then that we must rely largely on judgement and if, as a result, errors, or failures occur, we must accept them as a price for human progress” Othmar Ammann, Federal Investigator, Bridge Designer.
  • 20. Jazz Improvisation is Edge of Chaos Behaviour
  • 21. Improvisation
    Know who the leader is – and where you fit
    Soloist is part of the band, and apart from it
    Solos have strict rules: time, rhythm, length, chords etc
    Experiment, make new combinations, upside down, back to front
    Don’t play the same solo over and over: keep trying new angles with familiar pieces
    Pic credit: Don Hunstein © Sony BMG Entertainment
  • 22. "When what you are doing isn't working, you tend to do more of the same, and with greater intensity" Maynard and Champeau
  • 23. Now: traditional knowledge boundaries are breaking down:‘Constrained Freedom’
    Innovation and Creativity occurs within fluid, flexible and networked structures
    Where there is a free flow of ideas, information and knowledge generates new combinations
    Without rigid boundaries and roles
    Organisations seek contributions from within and outside: partners, suppliers, stakeholders (including customers, sometimes competitors)
  • 24. Connected World:
    • Complex, Accelerating Time
    • 25. Instantaneous communications
    • 26. Multi tasking
    • 27. Self managing team working
    • 28. Unpredictable, Changing
    • 29. Networks
    • 30. Fluid relationships
    Photo www.jackson.army.mil
  • 31. What Do You Need to be Creative?
    Experience (learning)
    Knowledge (know-what)
    Insight and understanding (know-why)
    Openness to Change
    Receptive to possibilities
    Willingness to fail
    Improvisation / Variation
    Experimentation - observation
  • 32. Creative Mindset
    Comfortable in unknown territory
    Lateral thinking
    On the Edge
    Photo: bobfranklin
  • 33. For your inner problem solving machine to work, you need to follow this system:
    Feed your mind fresh, new observations (try to utilize all five senses)
    When you have a problem, write it down and then forget about it
    Find times during the day to quiet your mind
    Note which activities tend to lead to more ideas and seek out those times often
    Listen to the ideas that pour out of your subconscious
    Write the ideas down or otherwise record them so you don't forget
    Return to #1
  • 34. "People can be divided into three categories:  The few who make things happen, the many who watch things happen, and the overwhelming majority that have no clue what just happened”(From the Warren Miller film, Off the Grid)
  • 35. Thank You!Rich@RichHadley.net