Born in the mid-eighties, and spending my formative years in the nineties, I feel at no disadvantage in the digital realm.
I’ve seen the web grow from a desolate grey-scale plane, accented only by the contrasting splash of blue hyperlinks, to the multi-faceted web we see today – a socially connected, design-centric array of ideas pushing humanity ahead in unexpected and ever-evolving ways.
It’s a thrill to see this bustling canvas’ exponential growth.
But where did it all begin?
For me, as a designer & developer, the metaphorical building blocks that shaped my education began, quite literally, with building blocks.
It’s been said that creativity, despite its uninhibited expression of thoughts and ideas, thrives on the boundaries imposed by constraints.
The web provides constraint, whether it be physical or digital. It’s these constraints that help us focus on what’s important. But it’s important not to mistake working within constraints with the need to make sacrifices.
Playing blissfully with Lego as a child, the constraints were strictly imposed by the physical bounds of the blocks and accessories. It was thrilling to be presented with a defined set of properties but infinite set of possibilities.
The strategies learned through the simple process of joining blocks to make structure strengthened my planning and problem solving skills, it taught me to innovate while exercising an unencumbered imagination.
There was no right or wrong. Failure was seen as a stepping stone to a solution, not frowned upon.
Skills imperative for the world we live in today.
Always create & innovate
It’s fascinating that a toy so irreplaceable in my childhood could be so instrumental in my professional life.
It’s brought into focus the importance of play as a child.
How important it is to conceive an idea in your mind and execute it in reality. Whether that be through an imaginary game, a drawing or a Lego construction, it all involves the processes of design and innovation. The identification of a problem, task or goal and the steps taken to create a successful solution.
As inspirational thinker Seth Godin questions, “why do we not teach our children to go do something interesting… are we teaching our children to collect dots or connect dots?”
It’s important to think about this. In all aspects of life we’re taught and conditioned to be normal. To follow the path through school, into tertiary education then into the work force. Your success is quantified by your results, your grades, your reviews. Failure is unacceptable.
We need to embrace the fact that in the ever-changing world we live in, the old paradigm of how to succeed is less relevant than ever.
Anyone can make a difference. Anyone can solve problems. Anyone can change the world. We’ve just been taught not to.
As a child building Lego I dreamt of the possibilities. It’s time to remember that feeling.
Anything is possible. So dream big.
~ Words by Scott Tonges