I combined my professional interest in “curiosity” (being curious is how I earn my living) with my personal interest in curiosity; in December I completed a Master’s Degree in Education from Pace University, where I focused on “curiosity in classrooms” and how to “teach” and inspire curiosity. In connection with this, for two years I synthesized dozens of articles, research reports, websites and books on various aspects of “curiosity.” AND, I conducted my own body of research on curiosity for my thesis.
So, I’ve become somewhat of an “expert” on the topic of curiosity and I’m putting what I learned into practice in my day-to-day life. Hence, I’ve adopted a new self-professed title/role/persona of a Chief Curiosity Officer.
My keynote presentation, titled “the Curious xCursionist”, can be watched on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PlWfws3z518
However, here’s some key points about our curious culture:
benefits of curiosity include happiness
For all you curious cats that are “meta curious” (i.e., curious about curiosity), it is a state of mind and mood. Curiosity can be developed: taught and nurtured. It is separate from IQ. It is contagious. And, it’s addictive (think why you can waste hours playing Seduko). It’s been proven to prolong life, lead to stronger relationship, help with coping with chaos and change… and leads to happiness. And everyone wants to be happy. In fact, our culture is down-right fixated on the “pursuit of happiness” which is probably why so many Americans are taking mood-lifting drugs. The United Nations has named April the month of “Happiness and Wellbeing”, with Friday the 13th of April declared “National Happiness Day.”
rising curiosity in culture
If one does a simple Google Trends word search (aggregated and normalized) it shows a sharp increase in “How” and “What” questioning from around 2007. And specifically, Asian countries (emerging markets) are asking more questions than developed markets, lead by the Philippines, India and Singapore (see below). In addition, search engine usage is growing exponentially, especially as more people carry WiFi connected smartphones.
A number of things are happening in the world right now that are creating a “perfect storm” for a “curious culture”. The combination of the following six phenomena are driving curious behaviors:
- Big Data – Leaps in processing power make it possible for us to process more data, info and insights than ever before, expanding our horizons.
- Content Creating Tech – A new and constant stream of technology and software inspires us to explore, create data and develop new content.
- Democratic Data– Today, everyone has access to information and information and ideas are being shared like never before.
- New Visualization – New ways of looking at, parsing and communicating information and exploring real and conceptual worlds have been developed in the past 2 decades, fueling discovery.
- Non-Fiction Media – “How It Works” type TV, magazines, books, websites and apps promote exploration. (Some say the reason why there is so much reality “How It Works” media out there is because it’s cheaper to produce than fiction.)
- Innovative Design – Advances in design, coupled with an appreciation for novel and different design, pushes us into a world of the “unexpected.”
Research shows that curiosity can be “planted” and nurtured. Of course the implications of this for education are enormous; nurturing curiosity in learners for self-guided growth could be an antidote to a broken education system.
However, in our own day-to-day lives, we can pique other’s intrigue and curiosity (Those of you writing online dating profiles take note.) And, in branding and marketing, these six techniques serve to create interest and meaningful engagement:
If you want to know more about the specifics of these techniques you need to contact me. This is the subject of my Master’s thesis and is proprietary intellectual property. It’s fascinating stuff. Stay tuned.