“I don’t believe in creativity,” says Kevin Ashton, the game-changing entrepreneur that invented the Internet of Things and sparked a business technology revolution in the process.
“Creativity is a word that made up in the 1920s, at a time when white men were convinced that they were the best,” he says.
“White men had a problem in the 20s, right? Because in the 1800s, we learned to read. We went from, ‘no one could read’ to ‘everybody could read’ in a hundred years, and then Darwin had pointed out that we were all the same, we’re basically evolved from the same species. So all the stories that people had told about why they’re better than everyone else didn’t really hold up any more.”
With the old order struggling to keep hold of their position at the top of the tree, the idea of “creative genius”, or eureka-like moments that only strike a select few, became an attractive explanation, says Ashton. The trouble is, it’s nonsense.
Rather, as Ashton suggests in his new book How to Fly a Horse, the best ideas are the result of taking progressive, logical steps and interrogating each of them thoroughly to get better. Some people, admittedly, have a talent for racing through these steps rapidly, giving the illusion that they’ve been hit with a sudden flash of inspiration, but the truth is that the steps are always the same, it’s just a question of speed. Good ideas don’t come from nowhere.
Here, we talk to Ashton in detail about the thinking behind the book and what “being creative” really means.
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