It’s been a while. Almost a month, in fact, which is rather poor considering that these posts are supposed to be here every day for a year, and we’re only half way through. I do have a good reason for my absence, however: a great project, which I’ll be writing about soon, and the results of which you’ll find at The Big Pedal website.
For now, though, it’s time to get back on the 365 Ideas horse…
During the last couple of days, I have stumbled across several small problems, each of which I know I can solve with some thought and a little work. So I did (mostly). I’ll provide a couple of examples, neither of which will change the world, but that isn’t the point—I’ll get to the point in a moment.
The first is pretty useless, and highlights my point perfectly. When asked the question: “Is it pancake day today?” I didn’t have a clue. Of course, Google can solve this problem for me faster than I can type in the URL of my apparently pointless solution, which you’ll find here.
No-one is ever likely to use this, let alone care about it, but by making it—not thinking about it, planning it, wondering how it might effect my life, considering its potential for revenue, worrying about whether or not this is an effective use of my time—actually rolling up my sleeves and making the thing, I forced myself to think a little bit differently. Only the act of doing something uses my mind in such a way—there’s absolutely no substitute—and this stimulates me creatively; I have more ideas.
The second of these mini-projects is related to The Big Pedal (linked to above):
Problem: I wanted to update various people about the number of journeys being logged, but had no simple way to view live, up-to-the-minute data as it was entered into the system.
Solution: I built a ticker that polls the database periodically and counts up the journeys as new data is found. I can’t link to it, as it isn’t public (which is a shame, because the nice thing about it is the continuous ticking up as schools enter new data), but here’s a screen shot…
No-one involved with the project had asked for this, or will even use it for all I know, but I made it anyway—It solved my immediate problem.
My point is this: When we have an idea, we should act upon it. There’s never a valid reason not to:
- If the project is too large, make a small, stripped-down version that only we will ever see.
- If it requires skills that we don’t have, make the parts that we do have the skills to build, and figure the rest out later.
- If it seems futile, make it anyway—we always gain experience, stimulate our minds, and gain confidence by producing something.
- If it might not work, then we should just get on with it.
- If we’re too busy, we should take an afternoon out, make it anyway, and catch up on the other stuff (we always do).
- If we don’t know where to start, we should draw a picture of it (or an element of it).
- If we don’t think it’s good enough, we don’t have to show it to anyone.
- If it isn’t what we do, we should temporarily change what we do.
If we continue to make things, and to realise the ideas that occur to us on a regular basis—so many of which disappear into the ether—we can change the way we think about making things: about how easily we can make ideas real, and about how effective it can be to simply get stuck into a project, regardless of it’s apparent potential.