Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
"Good artists copy, great artists steal" -Pablo Picasso
"Everything is a remix" -Kirby Ferguson
How do we get creativity from knowledge? To create lasting creative contributions to a domain, one needs to have knowledge: to make things, you need to have bricks, and to break the rules creatively, you first need to know the rules. But we see experts failing to predict (and even opposing) the next creative advance all the time. A relatively recent famous example was the failure of IBM to realize the gold mine they were sitting on that would eventually become Windows and Macintosh. Ultimately, the paradox of creativity is that people only ever have access to old thoughts, but somehow great creators find a way to forge old thoughts into a really new and useful ones. How does this happen? What are the cognitive processes and strategies that people use? Are there certain types of knowledge and experience that lend themselves better to enabling creative leaps? What can we learn from building tools to help people make these leaps? What is the relationship between expertise and creativity?
I am fascinated by these riddles! In my research, I try to unravel them bit by bit from a variety of angles, using a combination of experiments, detailed observations of real-time creation, and developing creativity support tools. To learn more, read more about my specific research projects, or check out some of my papers.
I'm always looking for interesting people to talk to or work with: if you have ideas, brickbats, feedback, or project ideas, please drop me a line!
- My Design Studies paper on analogical distance and creative inspiration was featured in several news outlets, including phys.org and Fast Company!
- We successfully demoed our guided crowd brainstorming system at HCOMP 2014!
- We submitted two papers on our social ideation system and system for mining analogies with crowds to CHI 2015.
- New paper from my dissertation accepted to Design Studies! Check out the paper.
- My new work on social-computing-powered idea generation was accepted as a demo at HCOMP 2014. Check out the extended abstract.
- I presented work from my dissertation at Cognitive Science 2014. Check out the paper.
- I successfully defended my dissertation! (July 1)
- My dissertation research was recognized with a Tim Post Award for research excellence!
- My master's research on analogies and ideation in an expert design team was featured on National Geographic, Fast Company, and Business Insider
- I joined the Protolab with Steven Dow at Carnegie Mellon's Human-Computer Interaction Institute