In conversation with Dr. Dinh-Thuan Do: ‘Experiencing’ how to think about new ideas

Dr. Dinh-Thuan Do, Ph.D., SMIEE, is a computer science and information engineering professor at Asia University in Taichung city, Taiwan.

Dr. Thuan was listed in 2020 by Stanford University as one of the top 2% scientists in the world.

Over email, from my post in Ho Chi Minh City where I was ‘waiting for the pandemic to end’, I had reached out to him. I had asked him directly about my hunch about lacking opportunities over in Vietnam for young people to explore query. The difficulty of introducing new ideas, he would confirm, wasn’t mine alone. I was very happy to hear his replies to my questions and we communicated virtually, to explore more. I put forward a couple of questions based on my observations in my time in HCMC up uni that moment, which, admittedly, was rather short relative to total time I would be there (20 months). In time, my experiences and attitudes changed significantly regarding the important things to showcase, highlight, and create spaces for, and I can talk about that in another post.

Because what I felt that I was experiencing at the time, in HCMC, and, admittedly, quite a few parts of Southeast Asia when I venture to them to look for the people who like to look for the new, was a kind of stagnancy. I felt that the thinking was really rigid and going outside the lines could be perceived as threatening, scary, or even unthinkable. I can quote more than two dozen instances where it was downright awkward to be so steadfastly dismissed for being the way I am here at DK, ‘making space for the new and different, querying my way to the next’, et al.

See his responses in video form here:

A direct question I asked c was: A culture of ‘learning’ and ‘innovation’ and ‘creative thinking’ feels hard to discover here, where I am. ‘Do you have any thoughts about this?’




Making space for experiments, trying things

‘In fact, we have [a] lack of the culture of learning, innovation and creative thinking,’ Dr. Thuan confirmed. ‘As my observation, some students in each class exhibit their creative ways to achieve and demonstrate their knowledge, but the teacher/faculty have not encouraged them properly. The fixed evaluation criteria limits the capacity of creative thinking…’

‘Despite its relatively youthful population, Vietnamese students don’t rely on youthful clusters in order to make new things, in other words, things that could eventually become quite innovative products.

‘Young students have not [gotten to] experience [ways] to think about new ideas, [so] they do not have much chances to learn from their failures,’ he said. ‘Facilities in schools are not good enough for students to experience theory, and experiments,’ which inhibits creative query.

Taking part in foreign exchange programs and better teaching methods would be helpful, he said.

I’m exploring here and there what researchers say about the creative landscape in Southeast Asia. More if I find it, in the virtual series of conversations for Atelier S P A C E.

Learn more about Dr. Thuan at his site:

Why are innovation and creativity important?

According to the site, ‘How can we be creative?’ the trick is by asking questions, drawing conclusions, experimenting and exploring new ideas, and widening the areas of thinking.
‘To be truly innovative, a person must have: the ability to take risks, to experiment, ask questions and observe.’ It expands by spelling out differences between creativity and innovation, for example  the quality of thinking new ideas and putting them into reality is creativity, while the act of executing the creative ideas into practice is innovation—creativity is imaginative, innovation is productive. You can’t measure creativity, but you can measure innovation. ‘Creativity means generation of ideas which are new and unique, but innovation is about introducing something better into the market. Creativity does not require money: innovation does. There is no risk involved in creativity, whereas the risk is always attached to innovation.’

We will inquire more deeply into this, in conversations that emerge amongst guests participating in the Atelier S P A C E events. That’s where things pop up, organically, through dialogue, facilitated by yours truly, here in the virtual ‘rooms’ of S P A C E. More about Atelier S P A C E is at this link:

Atelier S P A C E
Photo: Van Tran / Atelier S P A C E HCMC 2021