I saw a charming talk here yesterday at SXSW by Dutch designer Daniel Disselkoen who themed his session around the idea that familiarity with a subject, our environment, surroundings or routine can limit discovery. This provides the basis for Daniel's work in exploring ways to encourage people to notice and observe more, and to be more self-aware of where our attention is focused.
For four years, he made the same journey on the same tram route to the art academy, and realised that he had stopped looking out of the window and being curious about what he might see. So he developed a simple little real-world hack called Man-eater:
Daniel also talked about how our focus is so often looking down at a screen (a behaviour there is no shortage of here at SXSW). He described the smartphone as 'the connector that disconnects'. So another project is an app called Cucalu, which is a game that encourages you to look at the ordinary with a new perspective by spotting, photographing and sharing geometrical shapes in your immediate environment.
There were some delightful stories of how creative people had been with the challenges, a few of which you can see here. Rather lovely.