I recently satisfied my Mac envy and purchased a new Mac mini. Consequently, I’ve been diving into the Mac world, learning the whole Mac vibe and trying to wrap my head around a whole new way of looking at not only my computer but technology in general. It’s been a wild ride from the start, and one of the best things I’ve done for myself in quite a while. I’d completely forgotten how much fun a computer can be.
Now, when I get interested in something I generally dive into it whole hog. I immerse myself in whatever new thing I’m learning until I have a good handle on it. Consequently, I added quite a few Mac podcasts to my podcatcher download list. On one of those I heard about Sinbad doing the keynote for some Mac expo that just happened recently, so I promptly went and downloaded it.
I like Sinbad, but this post isn’t necessarily about Sinbad, nor is it specifically about Mac computers either. I’m merely setting the story up so proper credit can be given throughout the rest of the story, because Sinbad said something pretty incredible during his keynote… something that made me stop, rewind the MP3 and screw my headphones in just a little bit tighter to make sure I didn’t miss it.
What was this world-shaking thing that he said? Well, it’s actually blindingly simple, as most good wisdom is. He was talking about how we, as geeks, constantly compare hardware. We ask each other “What do you have? How much RAM, how much this, how much that?” when in reality what we really should be asking is “What have you created? What have you made? What have you done?” I think this is brilliant and really cuts directly to the crux of what I want to write about.
I love technology. I love new toys. However, what I love most about technology isn’t the technology itself but it’s instead what that technology allows me to do, what it allows me to create. I’m a huge Open Source fan, mainly because I’m cheap but also because I really believe in the creative power of the community. I have made my own contributions to the Open Source community in the past and I plan on continuing that long into the future. I think the power of human creativity is where the real miracle of technology exists.
I’m extremely excited about my Mac and I’m quickly trying to learn as much as I can about it. I’m studying Cocoa and Objective-C, learning how to use the Xcode tools, writing little dashboard widgets and in general having a ball playing with the system. My pleasure really stems from the sheer act of creation that the system facilitates, though. I get a real thrill out of creating something new and sharing it with other people. I think this desire to create, this raw unbridled enthusiasm for sharing is what drives most of the really interesting uses of technology (such as blogging, podcasting, and even things like indie music). You don’t have to be a programmer in order to create something. There’s interesting things being created every minute of every day and only a small portion of those really require any sort of programming ability or knowledge.
So, how many times have you asked someone else what type of system they run or how fast a processor they have? How many times have you actually used the processing power and the tools you have to create something new? I hope you’ll join me in making the effort to instead start asking “What have you done? What have you made?” I also hope you’ll join me in coming up with your own creative answers to that question when other people ask you what you’ve done.
It’s time we got out of the never ending upgrade spiral. It’s time we stepped off the “Have to upgrade every single time a faster processor comes out” elevator and instead learned to master the tools we already have. Pick something you love, pick something you are passionate about, pick something you want to learn more about or explore deeper. Find something cool, make something new and share it with your friends. Write a story, remix a song, put together a photo collage, make a movie or a web page or even just a greeting card. Put your own little stamp of creativity on the world. You just might find it addictive.