Monday, July 31, 2006

Where Do Finance and Art Overlap?

A very smart acquaintance called David Neubert posted a piece on behaviorial finance. The creative aspects to financial effectiveness echo interviews from the financial services world, and it makes me wonder: if finance is really primarily a creative business, why are artists usually at the bottom of the economic ladder?

Going Backward to Move On: Finance, Art, and Some Common Ground

Part of what some in artificial intelligence call "ontological commitments" -- the decision by an individual or group about the meaning and priority of a particular concept, word, or behavior -- include assumptions that are either implicit or explicit. In other words, every situation or statement constitutes a set of arguments, most of which are invisible.

Where Does This Come From?

Academics know this sort of framework as social constructivist thinking. Theater people reveal it through defamiliarization. The Russian Formalists and eighteenth-century thinkers also explored these concepts.

However, no matter what you call it, this was discussed as early as Plato. Just one more example of how language divides thinkers and requires that people in each century and discipline reinvent the wheel.

An Example: Ontological Commitments and Entailments, Arguments and Assumptions

It's not an accident that many office buildings have lobbies that dwarf those who walk through them. The design was conceived to assert the argument that those in the building are powerful and outsiders should feel intimidated. The assumptions -- or entailments -- of such architecture are implicit. You can find these attempts to intimidate credible or not. Usually once revealed, the argument loses much of its effectiveness.

And buildings designd to dwarf have been around forever. Think of how you feel entering a cathedral, hallways in grand houses, or any palace in Europe or Asia. Those people knew what they were doing.

Back to David Neubert and Finance

My question to David is this: what are the overlaps between the creative processes that artists use and those that are used in successful financial transactions? My challenge is how can they be articulated so that people in each discipline understand the processes of the other?

Here's an Idea

David has considered teaching a course for artists and writers about finance. If you're interested, send him an email on his board. What if he doesn't charge for the class but in return is able to create a book out of the class's experience? If each creative person records expectations, surprises, frustrations and so on throughout the course, wouldn't that go a long way toward developing a common vocabulary?

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