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Useful And Fantastic: People They Laughed At - 12

People who have ideas are never bored, says Val Yule, continuing her series of articles which call for a fair trial for every new concept.

People who have ideas are never bored. They always have something to play with, in their minds or their workshops.

Who then, are these fortunate people? In the old days, it was thought they were specially blessed by the gods - and sometimes cursed. ‘Genius’ to the Latins was a tutelary spirit, a creative principle, thought to be male.

However anybody can learn to enjoy creative ideas-making, by observing the experts who have done it.

* Observing is a key, in fact. They are keenly alert to what is around them, or they may focus on a particular aspect that interests them, and they OBSERVE. So they can see what other people often do not notice at all.

* Because they are alert and observe, they can see what is needed. Wouldn’t it be good if we could do up our clothes without having to tie them together or wrap them round us all the time. And so sewing and brooches and buttons have been invented. Wouldnt it be good if we had something quicker than buttons. And so zips and velcro have been invented.

* Putting one and one together. Most people think of only one thing at a time. To be able to think of more than one thing at a time makes it possible to connect them. For example:
A. Look, there is mould on that dish which has died where that stuff I dropped fell on it.
B. We need something that kills germs which make people sick.
C. Connect: Perhaps what killed that mould has killed the germs that made it.

Another example. Wouldnt it be great if humans could fly? Observe:
A. Some birds use air currents to help them fly long distances.
B. Perhaps we could make machines that could use those air currents.
C. Connect: result, gliders.

Another example:
A. Look at the force of that steam coming out of the kettle.
B. We need something to make machines go, instead of humans just turning wheels or pushing.
C. Connect: Use steam-power to turn wheels and push pumps.

The people who put one and one together, or even three, four, five, are people who do not let opportunities drop, but make the most of ‘serendipity’, lucky breaks.

* Trial and error. ‘This does not work, so I could try that’. Inventors and researchers may try hundreds of ways to get something to work. The knockers say, “Look, you have tried to freeze meat or improve spelling, and it has not worked. Stop trying.” They could have said, ‘Try another way.’ Trial and error to try to make something that works is like playing a game against an unseen opponent, to try to win.

* Go back to the beginning, to first causes. Many inventions fail because they miss where the problem starts, and have not collected enough of the information that they really need. Birdmen could not fly just by flapping wings. Birds do not fly just by flapping their wings. The birdmen couldn’t fly until more questions were asked - including, are there other ways to fly without being an imitation bird?

In the early days of canning food, they tried to save money by having bigger cans - they did not realise that the food did not cook properly in the middle, and it went bad. People may assume that the easiest English spelling would be any sort of spelling as you speak - until they realise that it is not easy as you might think for most beginners to hear the sounds in words and match speech and writing. Children ‘invent’ their own spellings in their stories may be using some other principles too.

* Practice is one of the greatest developers of the inventing mind. The more you think of, the more you can think of - and one of the hundreds of your ideas may be a goer. Cartoonists and comedians may sometimes pause to worry ‘What if I dry up?’, but the amazing thing is that usually the more funny things they think up, the more other ideas queue up in their minds to be sketched or dramatised. It’s practice that gets the ideas sparking.

* The permanent teenager. Teenage is known to be a time of rebellion, of thinking differently, of being different. It is a useful time - or it should be - because then you can think of different ideas from old ideas that are not working properly. It is silly when teenagers give in to the current culture that they have to be destructively rebellious instead of constructively. The great inventor grows up but keeps bits of themselves still part of their personality - the child to whom everything is new and wonderful and to be asked about, and the teenagers now flexing mind and strength to do something to help make the world a happier place for everything alive.


Please visit http://home.vicnet.net.au/~ozideas/socinvent.htm


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