Confessions of a researchaholic

May 27, 2009

J.R. Smith

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:52 am

Nuggets' Smith is hit or miss

May 19, 2009

Living abroad gives you a creative edge

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:33 pm
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According to this article from the Economist, living aboard gives you a creative edge.

Even without the formal study as reported in that article, this is a pretty obvious fact, at least from my personal experience. I believe the relationship between creativity and living aboard is both a cause and an effect: creative people are more likely to live aboard, and the experience of living in different places further stimulates their creativity.

Many people consider my constant moving around as being crazy, and downright counter-productive for a researcher that traditional wisdom deems to benefit from a more sedated life style. But somehow the constant traveling not only stimulates my creativity but even improves my focus. (I do not get distracted easily, but tend to lose focus when bored.)

(This post was jotted down on a flight from SEA to SFO.)

May 14, 2009

Creating versus Spotting

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:21 pm
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Out of pure coincidence, I read two different articles at roughly the same time yesterday, both related to the issue of creating versus spotting (or discovering):

In Mark Cuban’s blog entry on Success & Motivation, he said the key to recognizing a profitable business opportunity is knowing the industry. Everyone has ideas, but the hard part is doing homework knowing which idea would work in a business (or risk getting your butt kicked).

In the book Made to Stick by the Heath brothers, they argued that creativity is not necessary for sticky ideas. There are always more ideas out there than that can be created by the most creative single individual, and the hard part is about spotting the right ones.

So essentially what they are all saying is that creativity is either less important than most people think, or downright unnecessary. The positive interpretation of this point is that since spotting is about effort, whereas creating is about serendipity or some innate ability, hard working would pay off for not only everything else but also for finding good ideas. The negative interpretation, though, is that creativity might be an illusion, and human brains are just machines that could discover ideas and connecting dots.

This also reminds me of a related point that I read about a long time ago (I have forgotten the source) arguing that there is really no such thing as creativity in the human intelligence, as what we think as creations are essentially discoveries. This applies to science, art, religion, and everything else. So quantum physics, relativity, cubism, capitalism, and credit default swaps are all discovered rather than created.

Is there any single idea that can be formally proven to be a real creation rather than a mere discovery?

May 11, 2009


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:00 pm

The basic concept of Friendfeed is technically sound: there are just way too many Web2.0 services around (facebook, myspace, blog, twitter, digg, delicious, linkedin, etc, etc), so why not put them together in one single place so that people can more easily track their friends?

However, this only works if the feeds are homogeneous, not only in terms of content but also the social psychological roles. It is perfectly OK to gather all news feeds from different RSS sources into one reader, as they are reasonably similar (except for the few like Dick Cheney who only watches Fox news). But I find it odd to mix up different services, like Facebook and twitter, which feels just like putting my bedroom and office together. People visit individual services with a specific goal or mood in mind, e.g. Facebook for meeting with private friends, and twitter for sharing quick thoughts with the public world.

There are indeed too many Web2.0 stuff and they need consolidation, but I doubt it will ever go down to just one (from the pure functional point of view without considering antitrust issues). The consolidation will eventually come, and I bet it will be fun to watch.

A Scanner Darkly

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 1:26 pm
Tags: ,

A Scanner Darkly is a movie that I have wanted to see for a long time but somehow did not manage to do so until recently. And it turned out to be so good that I regret haven’t watched it earlier.

The movie depicts the world and life seen from the view points of a group of drug addicts. To convey the distorted views from these druggies with impaired perceptions and brain functions, the movie deployed not only the traditional story line and dialogues, but also a cartoonish, non-photorealistic rendering achieved by rotoscoping.
The combined effect is so realistically surreal (oxymoron?) and disoriented that for the first time I kind of be able to feel what it is like to be a druggie. Rotoscoping not only preserves the original acting, but also facilitates hallucinatory or science-fiction effects such as bugs crawling all over one’s body and the “scramble suit” that disguises an undercover’s identity by constant shifting through the difference appearances of millions of people.

And yes, like all good movies, this one has a great story as well.

I believe this is one of these movies that are so unique that it is going to hang in my head for a long time.


May 9, 2009

Vilhelm Hammershoi

Filed under: Imaginary — liyiwei @ 10:55 am

I find a strange sense of peace and serenity in his paintings. See a related article in Economist.

May 8, 2009

Research collaboration disclosure

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:12 pm

It appears that I have quite a high volatility for (annual) paper acceptance rate.

As a mock to mutual fund prospectus, I would like to provide a full faith disclosure to my present and future collaborators:

  • All collaborations (with Li-Yi) are subject to rejections
  • Past performance (of Li-Yi) is no guarantee of future acceptances


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