The Taxi Driver’s Question

cab 666

I just lazily took a cab ride from the other side of town back home (and it wasn’t the taxi of the beast as pictured above – that was the first picture I found on Flickr). Anyway…

The cab driver was a chatty and charming young guy. He asked me what I did. I tried to explain, wriggling hard not to fall back on the easy (but commonly understood) ‘web design’ answer. We were chatting around it. Then, just as I’d paid him a fiver, he dropped an awesome question:

do you need knowledge or imagination to do what you do?

I feebly answered ‘a bit of both’.

What a brilliantly insightful question. And one that I’m going to ponder a bit.

7 thoughts on “The Taxi Driver’s Question”

  1. You’ve ruined my morning.

    That’s a really heavy question. You could tie yourself up in epistemology for the rest of your life. An understanding of the consumer, the technology, the market isn’t enough. You’ve got to understand what makes people tick, what pushes people’s buttons etc. You need imagination for that, not in the same way an artworker does but, to look at lots and lots of data and then go ‘oooh, that’s interesting”, to pick out an insight like that, you have to have imagination.

    Technically though, it’s impossible to answer as there’s no real true grounding for the definition of knowledge because of problems of senses. That argument is pretty dated though, Descartes was popular but made assumptions on assumptions.

    The question’s broken.

  2. It is both, but as Mike pointed out, impossible to value the weight of each. I was once asked by a cabby if ‘you lot are just arrogant or confident’ concerning the ‘advertising world’.

  3. very good question – does this cab driver work for the IPA? if he doesn’t, his question is spookily close to the question behind Diagonal Thinking, a fairly objective attempt by the IPA to measure ad folks’ seemingly conflicting abilities to think both logically and intuitively. see http://www.diagonalthinking.co.uk/ for more details…

  4. to mike… the question isn’t broken, you’re just concentrating on the wrong word.
    The Taxi driver (probably unknowingly) was specific in his question ‘you’ regarding an individual, the point is that how we do what we do is individual to ourselves, so the definitions just have to be meaningful to us….
    about a year ago i read a lot and researched a little around the notion of ‘knowing’… the way we use our knowledge. more often or not our imagination comes from the linkng together triggers and our knowledge in a way others wouldn’t. So to do what we do well we need to understand the way in make connections… now thats the difficult part!

  5. it depends if he means ‘you’ or ‘the place in which you work, as an entity’

    anyway I think the answer is that they are both sides of the same coin. to make good creative stuff, you use your imagination to recombine your bits of knowledge into something new.

    all good creative people a big total of have both, but in different proportions.

    people with good memories tend to have very vivid imaginations, because there’s a lot of stuff for their imagination to work with.

  6. very good question – does this cab driver work for the IPA? if he doesn't, his question is spookily close to the question behind Diagonal Thinking, a fairly objective attempt by the IPA to measure ad folks' seemingly conflicting abilities to think both logically and intuitively. see http://www.diagonalthinking.co.uk/ for more details…

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