definition (from Wikipedia):
The experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data… defined it as the "unmotivated seeing of connections" accompanied
by a "specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness".
… originally described this phenomenon in relation to the distortion of reality present in psychosis,
but it has become more widely used to describe this tendency in healthy
individuals without necessarily implying the presence of neurological or mental illness.
If we can downplay the association with psychotic behavior, and also make it more about dealing with meaningful data, then apophenia is a pretty cool word to describe what I consider a critical aspect of design thinking. Making connections between seemingly disparate things or ideas is a key step toward creating breakthough innovations. And, as we discussed earlier on metacool, it’s how the brain works (if we let it).
From the point of view of creating innovative organizations, one really needs to consider how the identification, care, and feeding of apopheniacs will be carried out. Who are these people? What makes them click? What makes them thrive? What keeps them from apopheniacking?
Thanks to Bob Giampietro, a truly innovative thinker and doer, for introducing me to this term.