There is a Dog

@ronmarz has a picture of his dog as his twitter icon.  His dog looks nothing like this and it's head is actually turned in profile to the right, but at the small avatar size, this is the dog my brain sees... even though I know better having already seen at a slightly larger size it's clearly a completely different image. I'm always fascinated by the flexibility of perception. It constantly reminds me that reality is open to interpretation, subject to the resolution and expectations of my own imperfect perception. This is a good thing to know so that I can correct myself when a new more appropriate idea or model of perception comes along without being too overly attached to my old ideas and paradigms.

There is something there, but it's not what I think it is, and that's ok.  In fact, it's good because it generates creativity.  I can create something original and useful out of my flawed perceptions. This drawing looks a lot like my own dog, so you can see I've projected my own experience into a vague image.  My brain has reconstructed the image with detail and meaning that it expects to see which isn't actually there.

How is this misperception useful? In this case I've created a character portrait that I might be able to use in a story, or a cute image I could put on a greeting card, or a toy design, or use it as a story starter, or create fresh interesting content for my blog. ;-)  It's the same process of improvisation people use to compose art, invent technology, innovate business processes, invent scientific hypotheses, find new ways to communicate and relate to one another, and philosophize about almost anything.  Imagination creates new solutions and modifies things in ways that suit new purposes.