“Gathering string” is jargon sometimes used by newspaper and television reporters to describe their process of seeking out facts, quotes and other tidbits while developing stories.

A reporter’s “string” might be a photo hanging on someone’s wall, a nervous tick on the face of a person being interviewed, a neglected flower box or carefully manicured lawn.

“Gathering string” can also apply to creativity and idea generation — exploring to find insights that lead to new ideas for your next project.  Looking for new material in new places.

“Gathering string is just another way of talking about super encountering,” Dr. Sanda Erdelez, a University of Missouri information scientist, told The New York Times.

“You become a super-encounterer in part because you believe you are one,” she says. “It helps to assume that you possess special powers of perception, like an invisible set of antennas, that will lead you to clues.”

Do you see yourself as a super-encounterer – raising your antennas and venturing into unpredictable places? Are you eagerly seeking out fresh inspiration?

If we always look in the same old places for the same old things, we’ll always come up with the same old ideas.   Try having unexpected encounters. Gather string. That next great idea for your next big project depends on it.