A wiser man than I once said that creativity is more important than knowledge. And I am very much inclined to agree. Creativity is an active curiosity and when aligned with experimentation even the most unlikely have achieved great things. Of course, chance and circumstance also play a role and while there isn’t any set formula to creativity there is a will of intent and persistence that is undeniable. Throw a stone at history and you’ll hit three people who never had formal education but still created magnificent works, such as Hendrix, Tarantino, Goodall, Branson and Franklin to name but a few. All of whom had very little education, however, they were curious about things. And they insisted on finding ways to achieve their goals, regardless of whether they were artistic, scientific, financial or political in nature.
For example; consider one great creation that we all owe a huge amount to and rarely if ever even consider. It was first made millennia ago by someone who couldn’t read or write, before electricity was discovered or the wheel had even thought about being invented. It is the sowing needle. This one simple little thing changed the lives of our ancestors on a massive scale. It allowed them to makes clothes that fit their bodies as opposed to furs slung around their shoulders. Thus allowing them to live and hunt in areas with more adverse weather conditions and to develop the broader foundations of the world in which we live today. This one simple little thing, a shard of bone shaped to a point, when wielded by a curious and determined cave dweller changed the course of human history forever! It may even have prevented our extinction, who’s to know?
Ever since and perhaps more so even in more recent times there are many who refuse to accept the status quo and strive to not only understand things on their own terms, which just happen to be far more detailed and specific than everyone else’s, but also to take their passions and build on them. For example, and despite his formal education in light of the fact that his chosen object of desire was an unexplored new technology, I draw your attention to one Richard Greenblatt of the Tech Model Railroad Club. This famously unkempt yet fanatically creative teenager came into contact with the PDP-1, one of the first microcomputers, @ M.I.T. With his undying need to understand and create, Greenblatt also laid foundations, however these were the foundations on which personal computers were built. Your Gates’ and Wozniaks all owe him and his brethren a huge debt, as do we all, but to Greenblatt there was only the search for understanding and satisfying the inexplicable inner drive towards creating something out of what he found along his way.
That in itself, that need to make things, especially on one’s own terms in one’s own time, is one of the great marks of humanity. From the depths of subjugation to the benevolence of wise rule, all of us have it in us to make things different for better or worse. We can add cinnamon to a family recipe or newer, better parts to old mechanical designs and we can fall flat our faces or soar like the gods if old. But we can do none of the above unless we try. So I invite you all to try and in doing so to not fear failure, for it is just one the many steps that bring us closer to our goals. So go forth, dear reader, take something apart and see how it works, find the answers for yourself and fear nothing, because you walk in line with the many who have come before, both great of mind and foolishness alike. It is your birth right as a human being. Seize it and enjoy it. Explore and discover, even if you give the cat food poisoning or loose a finger. It’s worth it!