Pablo Picasso once said:
“Good artists borrow, great artists steal”
And that is so true. Anyone who thinks the great creative minds of the human race got to where they did on just their own steam are delusional, an artist needs inspiration. Of course people come up with their own ideas, but they’re always inspired by something else, there’s never anything truly new created, only some old bits cobbled together in interesting new ways. It’s been like that from the beginning of our universe, things are built on top of each other. Everything at it’s basic level is just atoms. It can even be broken down into smaller elementary particles, like quarks. Humans can intelligently design new parts out of old parts, and that’s all an artist ever does, consciously or subconsciously. This is all of course, particularly relevant to Picasso considering his famously unique art style.
“Good artists borrow, great artists steal”, if we don’t then we get worse art. If I refuse to use someone else’s idea, that would fit perfectly into my art, merely on principle, I get inferior art. Some people can’t face up to this, because they want to believe everything they create is truly theirs. Nothing is truly yours, as much as you and I would like to believe it, make your art better and give credit where credit is due.
What you made could never have been made without you, be safe in that knowledge. You are unique, and so is your art, it’s a unique combination of other, more basic, pieces, but it has been compiled and added to by you. It is unique as unique can be, and oh-so special. Without you, it wouldn’t exist, but without others it wouldn’t exist either. Credit the human race, credit the universe. You were the little cog that could, the little cog that turned in a slightly different direction.
That’s fantastic, that’s wonderful, that’s beautiful and inspiring for everyone in the world.
So what’s this got to do with technology? What on Earth’s Awebital and why on Earth do I care?
There’s a problem with the world of technology as it stands, we have thousands of great, innovative ideas, concepts, designs. And no one can see them. Market competition and all that, yes, I understand that Apple can’t tell people what the next iPhone will look like, Microsoft can’t give us their 2012 roadmap, Facebook can’t release their planned feature list. I totally get that.
But it goes so much further than that. Not every Microsoft employee is the CEO of Microsoft. That sounds obvious, but think about it. There are thousands of people who are passionate about technology, and only a few at the top, only a few who dictate where we may go. Random dude 1 might have had the idea for the next FaceBook, and arguably more importantly might have the potential to have that idea. Random dude 2 might have had the idea for the next paradigm in interface design, the next iPad, or again more importantly might have the potential to have that idea.
The point is, these ideas people are having are clearly never going to be implemented due to lack of life-time, and so much more importantly, they will never be seen by anyone else. Will never inspire another human being. That’s so sad to me, imagine if Einstein had never been able to publish his results. Imagine if Rowling had been a successful buisness-women and never published the first Harry Potter.
Let’s go deeper. These ideas will never be built upon by others. Would FaceBook exist without Friendster? Probably not. Would Google exist without Yahoo? Zuckerburg, Page and Brin were inspired by others. They were in the right place at the right time. They were lucky.
Random dude 1? He wasn’t so lucky. he never saw Random dude 3′s idea and was never inspired.
If you compare this to science, a world where information is largely shared. Trust me, if CERN had succesfully found proof of the Higs boson, I’d know. If some neutrinos, for instance, were believed to be travelling faster-than-light. I would know. The worlds aren’t directly comparable of course, but so many parallels can be drawn. And maybe that’s a horrible example, but I don’t actually think it is…
By keeping things from each other, hiding things from like-minded people, we in turn hurt ourselves. It’s not good for innovation, and only for stagnation. In technology, so much that could be open is closed to the world, sometimes not even for good reason. I’m not Richard Stallman. Lines have to be drawn, but they’re usually drawn in completely the wrong place.
What we need is something to encourage sharing of information, it needs to go further than code, further than technology. It needs to be social, and promote encouragement from an early stage. Finally, it needs to be designed so that ideas, and individual parts of those ideas, can be taken and built upon by others. It needs to be an end-to-end solution, from inspiration to creation. Such an idea is hard to comprehend, hard to ‘get’. It needs to connect on a human level, to be intuitive. So I built an idea with my imagination, of metaphors and similes.
Meet Awebital, a social network, for ideas. A database of inspiration and social artistic creation.
Bubbles eh? I love bubbles. So bubbly. So I put them at the base of the current idea for Awebital. Users should be able to create a bubble, and put something into that bubble. That something can be anything, from a snippet of code, or pseudocode, a plot idea, a design concept, a building schematic, a piece of art… The emphasis really is that you can put anything in this bubble. The bubble will support all common types of data, images, text, documents, 3D models… Anything really.
Now after you put something in a bubble, you can make links to that bubble, to other bubbles. You can edit that bubble, but that bubble specifically is just one piece of data. The bubbles linked to it have other pieces of data, other bits of whatever! A mind-map, for data. Mind-mapping, built for the technological world. Imagine planning a game like this. Have a bub-branch (hehe, bub-branch) for graphics, one for code, one for plot, one for design. Each one of those can branch off however much it wants, it could become a hugely complicated data-structure, that anyone (or just your friends if it’s a private bubble!) can view intuitively, anyone can suggest additions and omissions, and anyone can create a clone, revisions would be stored… Yeah, version control, for human beings.
But wait? Why is it called Awebital? Well, projects that relied or were related to others, would orbit around each other. For instance, using software as an example, Ubuntu would orbit around Debian (Ubuntu is an OS based on the Debian codebase), which would orbit around Linux, which would orbit around UNIX…. You get the picture?. But then, again using open software as an example, different KDE applications would orbit around the huge KDE bubble, things like Plasma (the desktop shell) would be orbiting close, things like Dolphin (the default file manager) would orbit further out. Say you wrote some fan fiction based around another author’s works, guess what would happen.
Would this look confusing? I don’t think so. Orbiting would be slow, not fast, and if you were zoomed into a project, it would just look like the background was scrolling. If you zoom _out_ however, you’d get a view of something truly amazing, you’d see everything Awebiting (yeah I said it) around each other. It would seem rather spectacular I think, you’d get a clear picture of where everything fitted in. The Bubtrix, if you will.
Then you’d get bubbles floating through space, simple ideas that might never go anywhere. But they’ll be out there, floating around, ready for people to look at and thumb up or down, or add to, or add suggestions or comments to. Comments would probably be inside bubbles, around the piece of data. Am I talking about a bubble within a bubble? Bubeption? Yup. Aweception.
In the end you would have a product, something mapped out for all the world to see. Something the end user could rate, download. But the key difference here is the end user can make contact with ‘the project’, with all those working on it and all those that view it. They could suggest, tweak. It’s a social network for creativity…. For ideas.
A social network for ideas. A visual data mind-mapping bubtrix bubception for creativity. That sounds crazy, sounds insane.
But you know what? The Universe sounds insane. And the Universe is wonderful.