September 7th, 2011
Episode 26 of 101 episodes
Being creative means being able to conjure an idea out of nothing. Doesn't it? "Rebellion is the root of all creativity." - @SallyHogshead Back when I entered the workforce with my 3rd class degree and a very limited idea of what I was good at I took a personality test. You know the sort - the ones where you read a bunch of statements and say how much you think each one is like you. One of the traits measured on that test was "creativity". I scored pretty low. This fit with my belief at the time that people were either science types or arty types and that it was nigh impossible to be both. Creativity was, obviously, an artsy person's trait. We scientists dealt in cold hard facts. To me creativity meant being able to invent something totally new. I knew that scientists always stood on the shoulders of giants and built on each other's work. I thought no idea could be truly creative if it was inspired by something someone else had done. I hope the folly of my very narrow view of creativity is already apparent to you. It has taken me the last 20 years to slowly change my view to realise, first, that it is possible to be scientific *and* artistic. In fact I now realise that *most* people are both to some degree. But most importantly I've learned that creativity is so much more than just looking at a blank piece of paper and being able to pre-see the drawing you want to make on it. Creativity is quite simply the desire to create something - even if it's based on something you've seen by someone else. The very act of trying to recreate someone else's style is a creative act. By playing with a technique or approach you learn how it's done and in the process you inevitably put your own stamp on it. Maybe from there you find someone else's style that you like and work on emulating that. You learn a load more skills, but you don't forget your earlier ones. Without even thinking about it you combine the skills and styles of both and again you add a generous seasoning of your own taste and interest. Even just copying is a creative act. And of course the same is true in science and technology as well. Building on the work of others, adding to their ideas or refining them are all creative acts. Ironically, when I started my career as a programmer I was entering one of the most creative of all "science-types" professions. And I didn't even know it! "Rebellion is the root of all creativity." I saw @CC_Chapman tweet this quote by @SallyHogshead and my first reaction was to disagree. It suggests that to be creative you must buck the ideas of others and come up with something new. But I'm probably being too narrow minded again. Perhaps just wanting to create something, anything at all, is a small act of rebellion. What we're really doing when we create something is putting our heads above the parapet and trying to change our little bit of the world. Sounds like rebellion to me.