Originality comes in so many forms but the weird thing I’ve always thought about originality is just how unoriginal it is. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying there is nothing original and that everyone is copying everyone else but in a way we are.
There is a quote I read whilst looking for ideas for the word original that goes something along the lines of
“A good scientist is a person who has original ideas. An engineer is a person who makes a design with as few original ideas as possible.”
In many ways this could be true, especially the last sentence, but it doesn’t make the engineer any less original.
I’m neither a scientist or an engineer but I can relate to the engineer in that statement more than the scientist. I’m hesitant to suggest my (our) ideas are ‘original’ simply because in a world of 7.4 billion people the odds I came up with something original are slim. However I don’t let that take away from the fact that I created it.
On the farm whilst planning out the remodel of thirteen kilometres of internal fencing the prospect of running out five strands of barbed wire for fences that ran anything from twenty metres to 120 metres was a bit daunting and not just because of the barbs that catch on EVERYTHING! So rather than roll out each strand we invented a multiple roll barbed wire spinner that we mounted on the back of the trailer that held the air compressor and was attached to the tractor. Now there is hardly anything original about that because leading companies have been making such things for years, but for a massive cost. So just like an engineer we used as many ideas of others to make our improved wire spinner that suited our needs and not the needs of some mass produced product. It was an original design based on the many original designs of others.
We also created a single roll barbed wire spinner which we could walk with when a single strand was needed. Unlike the commercial product which works well on flat and smooth ground ours was made for the mountain goat country we were working in. Anyone who has rolled out a roll of barbed wire knows how annoying it is, barbs often catch on each other and stop the roll turning, or worse jag the entire spinner. Our spinner was not only made for rougher terrain it was made heavy enough that a barb jag did not stop the spinner working. When I posted pictures of that spinner on a farm forum I moderated as a DIY idea for people to build I had more than twenty people email me wanting to place an order. We weren’t offering them for sale, they were easy to make and anyone with welding skills could have done it but time poor cash rich farmers just wanted them made.
Then there is the other area in my life where originality is often deemed impossible. Writing. It’s often said that there is no original stories just new ways of telling old stories and that’s dead right. The way in which an author puts words together may be original or unique (otherwise it’s plagiarism) but the stories are very rarely original. Love stories have different characters, different scenes and different happy ever afters, but the plots are rarely original. Horror books are not different, a monster does something bad and people scream. Stephen King and Dean Koontz’s stories may read different but many of them are similar in the plot line, and chances are neither of them came up with the original plot. Thrillers are the same, there might be a new explosion or a new escape routine but how many are actually original.
So there you go, be original and repost everything I post 🙂