Acting out of the Box

Alan Dix

Computational Foundry, Swansea University, Wales, UK

Keynote at Rhaglen Ysgol Haf 2021 PCYDDS / UWTSD Postgraduate Summer School 2021, 10th September, 2021.


One definition of an expert (or academic) is someone who knows more and more about less and less. Sometimes this is the right thing to do, the sheer volume and depth of knowledge in the 21st century means that we advance as a whole by working on small areas which together make a meaningful whole. However, this building of a meaningful whole is only possible if we also understand enough about the larger context to know the most significant problems to address and how to connect these to others. When you are walking it is sometimes important to look at the larger map, not just the path in front. Furthermore, we know that some of the greatest advances come when new and different ideas shed new light on old problems.

We are encouraged to ‘think out of the box’, but of course that is hard to do when we are by definition inside our own boxes. Maybe you think, “I’m not that kind of person”. When children think creatively, it is often driven by things that come out of the toy box, they play and dress up. They do first and the creativity comes. The way to think out of the box is often to act out of the box, to do things that challenge you with novelty and strangeness. I’ll talk a bit about Tiree Tech Wave, an event that I ran for 10 years which brought technologists and artists, designers and philosophers together to explore technology in a remote rural setting and also my own one thousand mile walk around Wales in 2013. Creativity and even adventure are not about the kind of person you are, but the kind of things you do.

Keywords: research methods interdisciplinarity, innovation, creativity, walking, Wales, community technology, Tiree


Acting out of the Box from Alan Dix





Alan Dix 10/9/2021