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My Thoughts (and Stolen Quotes) About Originality, Creating from Nothing, and the Authenticity of Synthesis

Published 5/15/2015

In today's episode, I talk about the importance of synthesis to the process of creating novel things. I also discuss our obsession with originality and "creating from nothing."

Today's episode is sponsored by DigitalOcean. Go to https://digitalocean.com to get started, and use the promo code "DeveloperTea" on the billing page after you create your account to get a $10 credit!

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea my name is Jonathan Cutrell and today I'm going to be talking about originality. What was the last thing that you created that was truly unique? We like to think of uniqueness as something that is extremely valuable. We don't really know why this is the case but we imagine that creativity is truly valuable only when it is unique. I recently got some feedback for the show that said that what I am saying on the show seems to be something that the listener has heard before very often. And I actually think that's very true. Well this episode is going to use the thoughts of others and you might have already heard some of the things I'm going to say in this episode as well. In one of my very first episodes I used a quote from Steve Jobs and I promised that I would keep them to a minimum but I figured since I'm talking about originality and I'm also talking about remixing ideas that other people have already heard before I might as well use another Steve Jobs quote just to prove my point. So here is another quote from Steve Jobs. It goes like this. Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it. They just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things. I can tell you as a creator that Steve Jobs quote is right on for me it may not be for you but it certainly is for me I often feel guilty that I'm taking the ideas that I've read in another book or that I've heard on another podcast or even that somebody outside of the field said that I'm trying to apply to our field. In the digital space I feel guilty sometimes for that and I think that's very natural but I also think that that guilt is a bit misplaced I think we have an imbalanced understanding of true creativity and we're mixing it up with originality in just a minute after I take a sponsor break I'm going to bring another quote to you from somebody else who's a little less known in the tech community about originality. Today's episode of Developer Tea is sponsored by digital ocean digital ocean is simple cloud hosting built for Developer They're dedicated offering the most intuitive and easy way to spin up a cloud server and in just 55 seconds you can deploy a solid state drive cloud server plan start at only five dollars per month for 512 megabytes of RAM a 20 gigabyte solid state drive once CPU and a full terabyte of transfer. In addition to offering simple and affordable SSD cloud hosting digital ocean is dedicated to building out a strong community and supports open source software they offer a vast collection of hosting tutorials and invite Developer To submit articles and they pay $50 per published piece deploy your SSD cloud server with digital ocean today by going to digital ocean dot com now digital ocean has been kind enough to provide Developer Tealisteners a discount of $10 when you use the code developer. To get a code Developer Teaso go to digital ocean dot com and use the code Developer Teato get $10 off today and you'll get up and running with your own SSD cloud server and just 55 seconds that's digital ocean dot com. Now I'm going to give you a quote by somebody who might be a little less known in the tech community his name is Jim Jarmouche Jim has been a part of the film industry for years and this is the quote he says nothing is original. It's still from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination devour old films new films music books paintings photographs poems dreams random conversations architecture bridges street signs trees clouds bodies of water light and shadows select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul if you do this your work and theft will be authentic authenticity is invaluable originality is non exist and don't. They're concealing your theory celebrate it if you feel like it in any case always remember what Jean Luke Godard said it's not where you take things from it's where you take them to. This subject of authenticity and originality as they relate to creativity is a very popular topic of discussion especially amongst people who are creating things in the digital space and I want to say to you if you feel like you're creativity is a. So creativity is a fraud simply because you're taking the ideas of others and remixing them it is not in fact there are many different types of creativity but there are two specific ones that this topic is kind of wrapped around the first one is this idea of creating something out of nothing the other type of creation is remixing or synthesis the word that Steve Jobs actually used with synthesis and this is when you take other ideas and use them to fuel new ideas. Of course there's a big difference between synthesis and recycling synthesis is actually creating something new with raw materials of other people's ideas or other people's work recycling would be actually representing somebody else's ideas as if they were your own or representing somebody else's work as if it was your own this happens more often with ideas than it does with work because we've all been taught of the moral implications of plagiarism but very often we just recycle. Other people's ideas as if they are gospel I am certainly a guilty of this on many occasions so this is why I ask you please take everything that I say with grain of salt and have your own ideas have your own thoughts and have your own synthesis this is particularly true when I'm presenting things that are not based on research but instead are based on opinion and I think you should do the same with other people's opinions as well if you take somebody's opinion as gospel as if it is a. Absolutely true than that completely goes against the definition of an opinion and opinion is something that you yourself think about the world and all of that is wrapped around your perception of the world so I not for one second wants you to believe that my perception is the absolute gospel truth instead I want to provoke you the audience of this show to create your own opinions to develop your own perception and learn from my perception of the world. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Developer TeaI hope it inspired you and I hope that you will go forth and have conversations about perception and about creativity and all the different types of synthesis that you are exposing yourself to on a day to day basis once again thank you for listening to the show if you have questions or thoughts for me you can reach me on Twitter at Developer Teaor you can email me directly at developertea@gmail.com you can also leave me a review in iTunes with your thoughts about the show this is the best way to help other developers find the show and learn a bit about what it is before they start listening it also helps me get an idea about what you think about the show so thanks so much for listening and until next time enjoy your tea.