In Enlightenment-Era Europe, scholars kept Commonplace Books: collections of quotes that interested or inspired them. Here, I've assembled a personalized encyclopedia of quotations that have shaped my own perspective.

Niklas Luhmann, Art as a Social System

"Art communicates by using perceptions contrary to their primary purpose."

Sol LeWitt

"The idea becomes a machine that makes the art."

Neri Oxman

"Science produces knowledge that is used by engineers. Engineering produces utility that is used by designers. Designers produce changes in behavior that are perceived by artists. Art produces new perceptions of the world, thereby branding access to new information in and about it, and inspiring new scientific inquiry."


"For the perfect flaneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home..."


“Art is not a mirror with which to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.”

Susana Halpine

“Today, digital technology holds the promise of allowing art and science to take their respective places– side by side– in the pantheon of human understanding.”  

Walter Pater

"Experience, already reduced to a swarm of impressions, is ringed round for each one of us by that thick wall of personality through which no real voice has ever pieced on its way to us, or from us to that which we can only conjecture to be without. Every one of those impressions is the impression of the individual isolation, each mind keeping as a solitary prisoner its own dream of a world."

Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi

"(discovery) consists of seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought."

Matisse, "Looking at Life with the Eyes of a Child"

"To create is the artist's true function; where there is no creation there is no art. But it would be a mistake to ascribe this creative power to an inborn talent ... for the artist, creation begins with vision. To see is itself a creative operation, which requires effort."

Kelley, The Anthropologist

"... seek out epiphanies through a sense of 'vuja de.' Everyone knows that feeling of deja vu, a strong sense that you have seen or experience something before, even if you never really have. Vuja de is the opposite—a sense of seeing something for the first time, even if you have actually witnessed it many times before."

Notes on Seeing

"Once, in an unfamiliar hallway, I mistook myself for a stranger because I did not understand I was looking in a mirror. My own form took me by surprise because I was not oriented in space. Expectation is crucial to perception."

Hermann von Helmholtz, Handbuch der physiologischen

"... the 'objective' reality we perceive is not simply a copy of the external world, but rather the product of the constructive activities of the brain."

Nir Eyal, Hooked

"In a phenomenon termed experience-taking, researchers...step into the character's shoes (and) we experience his or her motivations-- including the search for rewards of the tribe, the hunt, and the self."

Elke Weber, "Seeing is Believing"

"In a world where available information and evidence far exceeds the finite processing capacity of decision-makers who are thus only 'boundedly rational', attention is a scarce resource that needs to be carefully allocated."

IDEO's "Field Guide to Human-Centered Design"

"Embracing human-centered design means believing that all problems, even the seemingly intractable ones like poverty, gender equality, and clean water, are solvable. Moreover, it means believing that people who face those problems every day are the ones who hold the key to their answer."

Virginia Heffernan, "The Internet is the Uncanniest Valley"

"Our eyes are still adjusting to the augmented reality of everyday life mediated by texts and images on phones. The oceanic internet has grown far too fast, with the highest aspirations to realism, for anyone to have developed guidelines for reading it without getting subsumed."

Patrick Cavanaugh, "The Artist as Neuroscientist"

"Discrepancies between the real world and the world depicted by artists reveal as much about the brain within us as the artist reveals about the world around us."

Arthur Krystal, "The Shrinking World of Ideas"

"The message is clear: We can no longer ignore the fact that cognition is quite literally the tissue that connects all manner of humanistic endeavor."

Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From

"Chance favors the connected mind."


"We must begin to judge a person on the basis of their questions, not their answers."

Steward Butterfield

"The best—maybe the only?—real, direct measure of "innovation" is change in human behavior... No small innovation ever caused a large shift in how people spend their time and no large one has ever failed to do so."


"The promise of new technology has always been to expand our abilities as humans -- enabling us to do things we weren't able to do before. It's about looking beyond what the technology itself can do, towards what it enables us to do."

Koestler, The Act of Creation

"All decisive events in the history of scientific thought can be described in terms of mental cross-fertilization between different disciplines."

Anthony Brandt & David Eagleman

"Your experience of the world changes what you take to be true, and vision is no exception."