The Les Misérables and Screaming Goat mash-up video. Puppy and baby GIFs. We all love these crazy memes that get us to laugh and ultimately share. Abigail Posner of Google gave an absolutely captivating Future 15 talk here at SXSW Interactive about how we get more brilliant as we continue to play with the visual web–particularly as we engage in synaptic play, where we make connections between different worlds to create alternate universes. This type of play brings us back to being kids – a time where we aren’t bound by rules and order and are free from linearity and are instead in a space where anonymity and freedom reign. The very nature of this time and space opens us up to come up with novel ideas and engage in social collaboration that helps enable the building of these brilliantly creative ideas. The end result are often highly amusing memes we see spreading across the web.
Abigail posed an interesting question at the end of her talk – must synaptic play be contained in the visual web, or can we take this to the real world? She has started testing this theory in the real world by following the three major rules of synaptic play: openness, rule breaking and combining. She discovered that by being open to random new experiences, she gained new relationships, new projects and new ideas. Her enthusiasm for synaptic play and the positive effects of it is infectious – and I definitely caught the bug. You can read more about Abigail’s synaptic play thinking in her Fast Company piece here.