Knowledge – Ideas – Skills


I’ve been thinking about this triangle consisting of three elements: Knowledge, Ideas, and Skills, and how people have these three things.

Knowledge is the things that you learn. The bits of data that you collect over the years, either from reading, or experience, or just taking in the world around you.

Skills involve actually doing things. Building things, writing code, designing stuff. Going beyond theories and ideas to create.

Ideas are what you bring to the table. Your own thoughts and dreams, as it were. The spark that ignites the creation of something.

Ideally you’d want to be right in the center, and be equally strong with Knowledge, Ideas, and Skills. Though perhaps as you exist in the center your strength at each one diminishes. Perhaps there are the rare individuals who can excel at all three, but in thinking about people I know (and myself) it’s probably more likely that people hit one or two of them strongly, and a third not as much.

I used to know a guy who was a phenomenal guitar player. His technical skills were amazing, and his knowledge was up there, he knew tons of songs and could play them perfectly. Sadly, his ideas were lacking, and he wasn’t much of a songwriter. Luckily he was in a band (a team) where others could provide the ideas. This is what teams should do, right? Bring together members with different strengths to create something better than what just one person can do.

In my own work (and play) knowledge is something I’m always chasing after. I spend a lot of time reading, and occasionally I ask questions. I tend to make a lot of notes as well, which helps, because I just can’t remember everything. I figure if I can remember where I stored some bit of information, that’s good enough.

And then there’s skills… Acquiring skills takes time, and practice, and doing things over and over again, and applying the knowledge you’ve acquired to the thing you’re trying to do. Design work, using tools, manipulating materials, writing words, capturing images… they all fall under skills.

As for ideas, I have plenty of them, I’m sure some (ok, most) of them are bad, or ridiculous. Often I go with the ridiculous ideas to see where it takes me, and along the way I hone my skills and acquire more knowledge. Occasionally in doing so I create a thing, and I enjoy the process and the journey.

Maybe I should call this the KIS Principle (Knowledge, Ideas, Skills) for short.

Disclaimer: I don’t pretend to know what I’m talking about, and when I write this sort of thing it’s really just an exploration of my thoughts, typed out on the screen. Occasionally I feel like sharing these thoughts with the world.


Consume / Create – Apple Products

Following up on my Consume / Create post, I was thinking about Apple’s current product line, and wanted to graph it out.

Apple Products: Consume / Create

At the far left end is the iPod, which is almost an exclusively “consuming” device. I don’t know what kind of content you could create with an iPod. I mean, you could create content, it’s possible, but I don’t want to think that hard about it. Next up is the iPad, which is a cross between a big iPod and big iPhone. You could create written content, but it’s got no camera, and very limited connectivity in the way of input ports. (See Could No Camera Be an iPad Killer? and Parsons’ Students Shrug Off Apple’s iPad. No Camera, No Creativity) The iPad is a new device, so it’s hard know yet where it will fit into the landscape, so I put it before the iPhone. Now the iPhone has a camera, and you can play music on it, and (possibly) shoot video, and you could type up your novel on it, though you’d likely go mad in the process.

OK, so the iPod, iPad, and iPhone are mostly consuming devices anyway, but two of them let you create things, but there are various levels of “creating” thing, and honestly while my copywriter friend could tap out a killer headline on an iPad, my photographer friend is probably not capturing the next great image on an iPhone. I’m mainly focused on media creation.

We then move on to “real” computers, starting with the MacBook Air. It’s got a camera and one single USB port. I don’t see this is a serious computer for serious media creators. It is a super-lightweight laptop great for the traveler/writer/business person. Skip it. The low-end MacBook (often called “the whitey”) is next. Low-end. It’s got two (yes two!) USB ports, and Gigabit Ethernet, but no Firewire. And, it’s low-end, which means it lacks power. Really. It does. (Luckily, it has a built-in camera!)

I put the Mac mini in there next, as I think it’s a step up from the low-end MacBook. The Mac mini has a bunch of USB ports and a Firewire 800 port, which means I can connect something like a Panasonic HVX200 HD camera and move that footage. I can also connect a Firewire card reader and get 24MB RAW files from a DSLR or RED footage onto it at a reasonable pace. The Mac mini is no powerhouse, but connectivity-wise, it’s moving up the ladder.

We then move onto the iMac and then the MacBook Pro. The iMac is a nice computer, and you can even get one with a 27″ display that’s pretty adept at editing video. I put the MacBook to the right of the iMac, mainly because on the high-end configuration you get the ExpressCard slot, which will let you connect eSata drives, which is a step up from Firewire. The MacBook is obviously better for portability, and the prices (and features) intermingle a bit between the two lines. The latest 27″ iMac is available in a Quad-Core configuration though, which is some serious power, so I’m still not sure of the positioning of these two.

And as long as we’re still talking about that Quad-Core iMac, let’s compare it to the Mac Pro, the granddaddy of Apple’s Creation Stations… If you’re wondering whether you can forget the Mac Pro and just get a top-of-the-line iMac, well, that depends on what you are going to create. You can read Why It’s Still Smart to Buy a Mac Pro and as someone who maintains a Mac Pro with 4 internal drives, an AJA IO card and two G-Tech eS Pros which pulls in footage from the HVX200 as well as the RED ONE, I can tell you I wouldn’t dream of replacing this Mac Pro with an iMac. Not yet anyway…

What about price? Hmmm, I figured it would be worth reorganizing the above graph with cost being the variable.

Apple Products: Cost

Once again, the order isn’t perfect, but I think it’s a quick overview, and worth comparing to the graph above to see how they differ.

Anyway, now that you’re done consuming all these silly words, get out there are create something! From what I hear, it’s easier than ever before, and the equipment you need is cheaper than it’s ever been! :)


Consume / Create

Consume / Create

I think a lot about consuming versus creating. Consuming media comes easy to most people. The old world of broadcasting was dependent on consumers: television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, the music industry, and on and on… they had to do one thing: pump out content that people would consume, and they did it well. 20 years ago if you wanted to create your own media, be it music, photography, writing, whatever, you had a lot of work to do to get any sizable audience to see it. Bands had to physically go out and play, go on tour, put on great shows, play good music, and hope people told their friends. Self-publishing a book 20 years ago? Getting your photos in front of a world-wide audience 20 years ago? How was that done?

Of course the World Wide Web came along and changed things quite a bit. Creating things became much easier, and distributing them even easier! You don’t even need to press vinyl or CDs anymore, or get prints made from your photos, everything is electronic now, and wowza aren’t we that much better off for it! The odd thing is, I almost feel like we’re reaching a point where consuming is overtaking creating, even though it doesn’t have to. I don’t know if it’s due to more “average” people using the web, or people have grown tired, or the novelty has worn off, or people are not staying discontent with the status quo. Creating new things should be more within our reach than ever before, but you’ve still got to have the motivation to do something about it.

I could blame social media. If I want to be a curmudgeon, I could say that 10 years ago I remember reading (and hopefully writing) so many blog posts about what people were creating and doing and ideas and thoughts and stories… and now it’s just simple to write a snarky comment in 140 characters, or click a ‘Like’ button next to someone post. And yeah, I’m guilty of this too, and maybe I feel bad about it sometimes because I’m one of those people who feels this need to create things… I feel like I can’t not try to make new things. They tell me that’s the curse of being creative.

But it’s not all bad… some amazing things happen every now and then. Consider that you can get the equipment to create “professional” level work for a mere fraction of the cost of what it would have taken 20 years ago, and we should be seeing an explosion in creativity. The tools are available, so it’s a matter of the creators getting the tools, and being able to focus on creating rather than consuming. If you’re not careful, consuming can be the enemy of creating.


Consume Before Sleep

Paul had a blog post titled Produce Before You Consume, which points to this original post titled Produce before you Consume, which is a call to people who make things to make things before you look at all the things other people made.

So somewhat related to that, I’ve gotten in the habit of consuming content before bedtime, that is, getting caught up with Google Reader, specifically visual design, photography, and video sites. I find it a good way to relax and ingest things after a long day…. if I’m lucky, a long day of trying to create things. This is my answer to working 12+ hours and just not having the energy to produce anything myself, I find it inspirational, and I hope that somehow it may influence my thoughts and dreams while I sleep.


Web414: Creativity Challenges

Creativity Challenges

For the Web414 March 2009 Meeting we’ll be discussing Creativity Challenges on the web.

Have you taken part in National Novel Writing Month, or the RPM Challenge (record an entire album in a month) or maybe taken a photo every single day for a year for the 365 Days Project?

These are challenges (not contests) and there isn’t a winner or a loser (unless you beat yourself up about not finishing) but if all goes well, attempting to “meet the challenge” will force you to be creative when it’s so easy not to be. It’s too simple to come home from work, plop down on the couch and consume the latest piece of “entertainment” that someone else created, but if you like writing, making music, or photography, why not step it up and see what you can really do by giving yourself a challenge to be met?

It can be difficult… most of the people I know involved in these challenges have day jobs, friends and family, and other responsibilities. And often, things just “get in the way” or go haywire and you just can’t do it. Equipment breaks, computers crash, files get lost. I saw a post in the RPM Challenge forums from a guy who said he couldn’t finish due to the fact that he had to get divorced. Life can get in the way of things, and that’s all part of the challenge.

If everything goes right, you complete the challenge, you’re proud of what you’ve created, and hopefully you’ve learned something in the process, had some fun, and make plans to continue creating things and being creative.

If discussing this further sounds interesting, please stop by Bucketworks Thursday, March 12th, 2009 at 7pm and join in