I remember reading a very long time ago about how the Japanese approach design with a method of "nothing is ever finished", meaning that there is always room for improvement. This doesn't stop having good enough for now, it just means that later it can be worked on again. This process of continuous improvement is something that I believe we should all adopt in at least the things that we care about and the things that support the things we care about.
There are many ways to build skills of course and most of us have gone through some form of education that introduces the basics of math or physics, language and art - but I wonder how much of how we learn constrains our thinking into the learned patterns, rather than exploring the depths of a skill and discovering the "rules" for ourselves.
I have used the example before of when I was a kid learning to play field hockey - I had an old stick and a ball (not a hockey ball), but I had never even seen the game played and instead, experimented. A year or so later when I did finally get to join a team, I held skills that others didn't because I hadn't been coached, I wasn't constrained by any kind of curriculum and there was no timeline on what I should learn when. My play, my rules, my experience - as a result, I was able to outperform in quite a lot of skill areas (I had to learn some others) as well as not fit into the mold of play - making me harder to trap into a position, because I was much harder to read - seemingly erratic. But, there is method to the madness, so to speak, even if the method isn't formalized into a set of practices to create a repetitive formula.
The same is for the "natural" dancers who grew up listening to salsa and watching and joining in with their parents and family at parties, compared to ballroom dancers who are molded into a particular form to satisfy competition rules. Or musicians who break out of the mold into experimental jazz.
Freestylers and Boundary riders
What I believe happens is that those who freestyle well are those who are not only doing, but also paying attention to what they are doing in order to continuously improve. This means that while they are in the moment they can push their boundaries (often failing) and have the sense of flow that makes them want to do more of what they do. This motivates and drives repetition of foundations as well as driving the edging of skill to increase innovation and explore potential.
I would assume that no matter the skill area, the people who are the most innovative and disruptive to the traditional, are the freestylers who are stepping outside the bounds of normalcy and extending the tail. While each individual might not become the next Picasso, they are all driving the future through introducing new ideas that can inspire and attract a new crop of boundary riders who are not quite on the cutting edge of innovation, but are looking for more than the average offers. In time, support shifts toward the new forms and a new normal is formalized to be taught to those in schools who will probabilistically never be more than average.
Technology and Culture shifts on the edges and boundaries, but will get supported by the masses in the middle. For example, the IT industry has been driven over he last 60 years by people who were far outside the normal to get supported by billions of people who are now proficient consumers of their ideas. Being able to use a smart phone well, doesn't' indicate if a person can build a smartphone application - The development of industries into new industries is not made by the average person, it is pushed forward by the freestylers where the boundary riders can pick it up.
Because boundary riders are often born from the traditional realms but are interested in more, they have a lot of the formalized skill of the patterns, but can recognize the potential in what breaks the patterns. This means that they can become a bridge between where we are and where we could be, by feeding off the hypothesis put into the world by a freestyler and channeling it into a consumable form for the masses.
There are few true polymaths in this world who can not only have ideas, but develop them into a usable form. For the most part, this comes through collaboration and due to the way we have designed the world, collaboration doesn't require knowing one another at all. The internet is a veritable soup of ideas that range across all topics and from one extreme to the polar opposite and this pool of ideas can be a goldmine for the discerning eye, the eye of a skilled boundary rider who can identify the untapped potential in the erratic thoughts of a freestyler and turn them into something of value.
From the past there are many, many stories of good ideas that weren't followed through by the person that had it, but instead picked up and advanced by a person who believed in it. Having an idea is one thing, turning it into something of tangible value requires a completely different mind and skill set. Most people will not be able to go it alone unless they have the resources to buy the skills they lack - which isn't going it alone at all.
But what I wonder for the future is concerning our homogenization of skill through becoming far more consumptive than creative, combined with our move away from skill development in areas that are difficult and time consuming to gain. But, for a time at least, we will still be able to have ideas, yet with the way the internet encourages sharing, those ideas become public domain.
But just to finish off, what if the data collector AIs are trawling the information we provide in an attempt to predict the next big thing - stealing the early thoughts of the freestylers and doing the job of the boundary riders with a large pool of resources at their disposal. Id the next killer app from one of the big tech houses their idea at all?
After all, Steve jobs spun the Picasso quote of “Good artists copy, great artists steal” into,
“We have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”
With the amount of data at their disposal, the volume of ideas, cross-references, consolidated public opinion from distributed sources and a level of granularity and visibility like never before - we know they are stealing our data, we know they are tracking our moves - but, have you considered they are also stealing our ideas and selling them back to us as if they are their own?
The future is conceptualized by the freestylers, developed by the boundary riders and supported by the masses - it won't be long until we are only capable of playing a supporting role.
[ Gen1: Hive ]