evernote notes the medici effect

With 225 million users, Evernote is the largest community of note-takers in the world. It’s been my notes app for five years now, but for the last few weeks, my Evernote has been struggling. It’s because I’m turning 25. Let me explain.

Last year I celebrated my birthday in Budapest. As Jhené Aiko sang in While We’re Young: “Cause it’s been another perfect day with ya,” I had some imperfectly perfect couple of days. I came back re-energized, full of ideas, clarity, and love.

One of those ideas was a great one: creating a space that encourages creativity.

The Medici Effect

The Medici Effect is a 2004 book diving deeper into the concept of creativity, taking into account different industries and cultures. 

The author, Frans Johansson, dubbed “the cross-fertilization of ideas” the Medici Effect.

I can’t believe the term “cross-fertilization” was being used unironically in 2004 in disciplines unrelated to biology, but here we are.

The book covers an exciting topic that originates from one of the first creativity researchers, J. P. Guilford, who made a very cognitively indulging discovery.

Guilford found that “creative minds tend to make unusual associations because they engage in so-called divergent thinking.1

Apparently, the ability to combine unusual associations is a compelling creativity determinant. 

In his article “The Emotions That Make Us More Creative,” Scott Kaufman writes: “…an increased sensitivity to unusual associations is another important contributor to creativity.”

My Evernote treasure

This past year, I was finally able to make all the unusual associations I’ve wanted to make for years. That’s because of the 10 MB text-only document that’s making my Evernote struggle.

Named ‘things i read this year 24’, this document contains all the articles I read this year and their most notable excerpts.

Here’s a screenshot of it, 225184 words.

The Medici Effect examples from my notes

Emotionally distant grandpa and peanut butter tacos?! Swimming pools and a secret sexual life?! Empowerment and an ’80s sitcom?! There’s that increased sensitivity to unusual associations for you. One of my favorite quotes is: “Everything is delicately interconnected.” But wouldn’t it make sense to simplify our thought processes, optimizing for creativity, beauty, and seeing the big picture and how everything is delicately interconnected?

These two hundred thousand words have helped massively to build that creativity-inducing environment. If I search “drugs,” I can immediately read through tens of articles on the topic that made me think.

This “the Medici effect”-inspired file helped me write this and this and this too.

Whenever I’m writing or researching on a topic for work, by searching for the term on there, I can quickly assess all the views and things I found intriguing throughout the months, and as of now, years.

If I’ve thought of this unusual connection between laptops and chocolate, but I can’t put my finger on it or clearly articulate it, going through the note with a simple search command gives me clarity and insight.

“I once heard creativity described as being the ability to grasp the essence of one thing and the essence of some very different thing and smash them together to create some entirely new thing.”

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, Lori Gottlieb

Tomorrow I’ll create a “things I read 25” note that will hopefully become the same space its precedent was, encouraging creativity, different approaches, ideas, and those unusual associations. Also, hopefully, my Evernote will stop crashing my PC. 🙂

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