On the nature of creativity

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.

– Steve Jobs, Wired magazine, 1995

“Connecting the dots” is exactly the way I’ve been think of Tumblr lately. On Tumblr, the emphasis is not necessarily on content creation, but instead on content sharing. For one, it’s incredibly easy to share content from outside the Tumblr ecosystem, be it a link, a video, or even a conversation you had with your roommate. Once the content enters the Tumblr ecosystem, it’s even easier to share with a simple reblog of the post. Unlike the Twitter RT, the Tumblr also encourages additional comments and thoughts on the original post. With every reblog, new connections are made by the Tumblr community.

In a way, Tumblr makes it very difficult for any one blog to be about one specific topic. If something cool and interesting, but random, shows up in your feed, the temptation to reblog is just too great because of the simple mechanisms Tumblr has implemented. I’d like to think of this Tumblr’s organized chaos as a breeding ground for Steve Job’s definition of creativity – where various sources from all over the web can come together to create something completely new and different. 

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