Brian Eno and the Oblique Strategies Dashboard widget Matt 21 Nov 2005

My favorite Brian Eno story: When he worked as a producer on Achtung Baby, his role was to come into the studio every few days and erase anything that sounded “too much like U2.” The idea was to force the band to move in new directions.

If you like that sort of thinking, you may want to check out Oblique, a Dashboard widget implementation of the Oblique Strategies card decks from Eno and Peter Schmidt (there’s also a site that will randomly generate a card for you). Some examples: Honour thy error as a hidden intention…What would your closest friend do?…Try faking it!

A Primer On Oblique Strategizing excerpts an Eno interview where he discusses the idea’s origins.

The Oblique Strategies evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation - particularly in studios - tended to make me quickly forget that there were others ways of working and that there were tangential ways of attacking problems that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach. If you’re in a panic, you tend to take the head-on approach because it seems to be the one that’s going to yield the best results. Of course, that often isn’t the case - it’s just the most obvious and - apparently - reliable method. The function of the Oblique Strategies was, initially, to serve as a series of prompts which said, “Don’t forget that you could adopt *this* attitude,” or “Don’t forget you could adopt *that* attitude.”

The first Oblique Strategy said “Honour thy error as a hidden intention.” And, in fact, Peter’s first Oblique Strategy - done quite independently and before either of us had become conscious that the other was doing that - was …I think it was “Was it really a mistake?” which was, of course, much the same kind of message.