Getting in Early, Inventing How it’s Done

[via] Brian Eno, artist and musician

I've been a long time fan of Brian Eno's ability to articulate the creative process and to express character through art. In this short video, he puts forth several interesting concepts (emphasis mine):

  • sometimes you listen to things and think “I've had only one idea in my life, and I've been doing it in a hundred different ways ever since”
  • everything good proceeds from enthusiasm; the sense of “I really want to know how this turns out” will drive you through many many nights of no results, whereas the feeling of “I ought to do this” dries up very quickly
  • the big mistake is to wait for inspiration, it won't come looking for you; it's not so much creating something, it's noticing when something is starting to happen… noticing and then building on it; saying okay, that's new, that hasn't happened beforewhat does it mean, where can I go with it?
  • art is divided into the musical Oklahoma: the farmer and the cowboy. The farmer is the guy who finds a piece of territory, stakes it up, digs it and cultivates it – grows the land. The cowboy is the one who goes out and finds new territories
  • I'd rather be the cowboy. I like the thrill of being somewhere where no one else has been, even if it's quite trivial, like art. I like the feeling of standing and looking at something that nobody else has ever seen before
  • obviously, there is an inequality of opportunities among people; some people have more opportunities than others. There is also an inequality of readiness. Some people are more ready to make use of the opportunities that come up than others
  • I studies painting, it was the 60s, and this new technology was coming about, it was called the recording studio; I was fascinated by it. Partly because the recording was a way of painting with sound
  • similarly, new instruments were appearing: the synthesizer, which had no history. There was no correct way to play synthesizers. So I got in early, I could play any way I wanted; I didn't have to go and learn how to play synthesizer. It was a choice

One can relate, I've chosen the cowboy path a lot throughout my career.

The remarks about getting in early did resonate in terms of experimenting with building communities and social networks online before Y2K# (does anyone even remember what that stood for?), finding uses for Twitter to connect people at events or chat among friends, etc.

Getting in early meant we could invent ways to communicate that suited how we wanted to connect. This is a point that is seldom appreciated among the automation and perfecting of social network practices — the beauty of communication is that conversation is ever evolving, we can invent new creative ways to connect, and we are still in the early days of social networks.

Eno's genius extends well beyond music; it inspired a reflection on businesses and ambient concierge after an experience at SxSW — presence to enhance and support the audience experience.

One final thought from the video:

  • everything we call character is deviation from perfection… perfection is characterless


Related: Long-term Implications of "the Audience is Always Right"


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.

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