Skimstorming

The majority of communication is boring. That’s because humans exert far too much effort trying to make sense. They simply want you to understand the things they are saying. And when we say things that make perfect, exact sense, they usually come out “normal” sounding. And normal is very boring.

When I walk down a busy city street I see lots of business signs, and logos and billboards and messages in store windows. They all make perfect sense to me. I almost never pass an original or surprising idea. So, I’ve stopped reading these communication pieces. Instead, I skimstorm.

Skimstorming works on a very basic principle. Ideas happen when two or more very different ideas bump into one another and stick. Crash. New idea. Have you ever misread something, only to realize the thing you thought it said was way cooler than what it actually said? If so, then you have accidentally skimstormed. The trick is to do it on purpose

Since over 95% of communication pieces are a complete waste of brain activity, I have found if you glaze over business signs and billboards very quickly, without really focusing, you only get bits and pieces of the message. For instance you might see a fuzzy picture, and half of a word in a headline. Your brain then starts working to fill in the missing gaps. Basically your brain tries to make sense of something that doesn’t. And once it does…crash. A new original idea pops into your head. That’s skimstorming. And it works with magazines and web surfing too; anywhere you might find a bunch of boring messages. Go ahead and try it. It’s loads of fun.

It takes a little practice, but once you master the art of skimstorming you will start seeing fascinating stuff in the mundane. For instance, a few weekends ago I walked past a Tailgating Bar and Grill. A sports bar with truck beds instead of tables. You and your buddies sit around the truck bed and watch the game while they serve food and beer on the tailgate. What a cool idea! Then I realized it was a just normal bar and the sign actually read “Ted’s Sports Bar and Grill. GO GATORS!” (Now just thing how much more interesting this column would have been if you had skimstormed it)

18 comments:

T. Willerer said...

it's as if you are using Gestalt principles to make sense of the communication in this world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestalt_psychology

sonya said...

I do this more with audio when someone is talking and I zone out a little. People are very interesting this way.

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