Works of brilliance are often thought of as having a miraculous genesis. “Surely the artist was in full control of the creative process, writing/recording/coding/painting with a steady hand and in an enlightened state from beginning to end.”
It’s better to recognize that hard, sometimes mundane, work created the product. Picture Michelangelo, chipping away for hours on David–alone.
There’s no chorus from above–no muse singing. There’s just the sound of work.
Adding to recent posts, for there to be progress, change must happen slowly and incrementally. Too much change all at once, and people may become uncomfortable, if not downright hostile.
Businesses have experienced this. Change the look of a website overnight without warning, and visitors complain. Change the menu, and regular customers become confused or perturbed (or both).
That’s why Facebook is smart making their recent billion dollar acquisitions. Slowly, their business model is changing; they’re reaching more users in different ways. I’m not a huge Facebook user, but I use Instagram a lot, so they’ve got me.
Facebook is evolving. They’re branching out into the mobile world in various ways, so much so that mobile may very well be their top priority. However, this isn’t how it started. They’re slowly and incrementally changing their product–working hard to not alienate users who like being comfortable.
I’ve written recently about how being innovative involves straying from the present day culture just enough to build something unthought of before, while at the same time respecting the culture and making the product accessible. It’s a fine line to strike. My field is education, and now more than ever technology is making a big presence within schools nationwide. Teachers must stray from conventional thinking to be creative and innovative, but they can’t stray too far. Sometimes in education, we make changes too quickly and alienate stakeholders. Othertimes, we move too slowly and lose stakeholders along the way.
The challenge is walking the line carefully, stepping to the left and right in a prudent manner.
I’m a sucker for Silicon Valley empire building stories. First there was The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich about the tumultuous creation of Facebook. Now we have Nick Bilton’s Hatching Twitter.
There’s a pattern afoot in these historic assemblages. A group of young, brilliant people come together. A revolutionary idea is born, and there is no consensus on who the founder is.
The Accidental Billionaires went on to be made into the movie The Social Network. I’ve heard Hatching Twitter will follow suit–possibly in the form of a television series. That’s fitting, especially if the filmmakers want to capture the full spectacle of Twitter’s genesis, which is truly the most exciting part of the story no matter where Twitter goes from here.
Facebook and Twitter’s beginnings are intriguing because they reveal how creations assemble themselves–specifically technology. It’s as if the internet was finally ready for Twitter, and if the people who made it showed up a tad later with the product, then something else would have satisfied the need. Of course, hungrier technologies can always supplant the first comers (á la MySpace and Facebook), but the point is that technology needs to grow, and there will always be people who help meet this insistence.
It’s also true that when people work together on a project, the end result is a melding of all ideas. Let’s face it, how can the percentage of responsibility for an idea be accurately calculated? Someone may have voiced an idea that was relatively minor, but it birthed a number of ideas in the minds of others that propelled the vision forward. How much is the initial contribution worth? Also, is a lot of work on a project–say, writing the code or creating the design–as important as a few vital ideas sprinkled throughout the collaboration (like the company’s name, color, branding, etc.)?
Following how this works itself out is fascinating. Hatching Twitter is a fun read in its entirety.