I just read the article “What Kind of Genius Are You?” in the latest issue of Wired magazine. I enjoyed this article for many reasons including the fact that David Galenson, the article’s subject, is an economist and art history buff. I thought I was the only economics, art history double major out there. Plus, trying to map the creativity genome always makes for an interesting story.

According to Galenson’s theory there are two types of geniuses. There are conceptualists. They’re the bold renegades who make big impacts while in their youth – think cannonball off the high dive before knowing how to swim. Then, there are experimentalists who want to make a splash, they’re just not sure how they’re going to do it – think dipping a toe in the pool, then maybe venturing down the stairs. They take their time and use trial and error. I suppose I would be an experimentalist. That suits me just fine. I always liked the tortoise better than the hare.

Made me think, though, about how things come to be considered creative, or better yet creative genius! Galenson used the frequency of appearance in art history textbooks as a meter stick for importance. How is it that certain works are considered historically significant and placed in books while others are not? One person’s creative, is another person’s “I don’t get it.” Do you get this?

It’s funny how some things (art, trends, inventions, technology) are first perceived as weird then as they become embraced, accepted, or just ignored by the majority, weird morphs into normal, or better yet revolutionary. Do most of us even know why it is creative, or do we just go along for the ride a la the emperors new clothes?