Original is Not Original

A while back I came up with an idea. It was an idea for a company that sold technology that made sense. You no doubt have a piece of technology in your house (whether it’s a keyboard, a washing machine, or a toaster) that would just make more sense if it did “THIS” or it did this in “THAT WAY”… My company would produce logical technologies. I’d call it: Logitech…

And yes, I immediately realized that Logitech is already a company, which makes keyboards, mice, webcams, etc. and has been doing this for quite some time. I actually ONLY use Logitech mice and keyboards (except for my gaming mouse), and I really only like Logitech webcams.

I also came to the realization that we have a problem with originality. Think about this: a handheld computer that runs apps and helps you keep track of and sync calendars and contacts, get email, and even search the web. What am I talking about? The iPhone? Nope! I’m talking about the PalmPilot. Or the Blackberry? Or Windows CE, which would become Windows Mobile. All came out before the iPod and as such were out way before the iPhone. Hence, the iPhone was not original.

Or was it?

See, the issue I have with the word “original” is that we don’t use it to mean what we think it means.

Let’s go back to high school – I know, I know, I’m not too thrilled about it either. But, just for the thought experiment let’s go back. In high school you undoubtedly knew kids who were considered “original”. They started trends and were in front of the fads. They were essentially the hipsters, always the one’s who did it first.

But they weren’t.

See, the problem is that “original” isn’t really used to mean “they came up with it out of nowhere with no inspiration or previous incarnation to pull from.” It’s rather used to mean “unique to this group.” So when we say someone or something is original what we’re actually saying is that they’re just unique enough that they’re not followers. They chart their own course, travel their own path, bake their own pie.

Those kids in high school did their own thing and just simply didn’t pay any attention to anyone else. Soon, everyone else wanted to be just like them. They seemed like they started the trends, but those trends actually came from a cousin, an older sibling, a friend from across the country, a movie, a TV show, or even a book.

True originality is truly dead.

But that’s not even new! Originality has been dead for thousands of years. Every tragic love story is based on “Romeo and Juliet”, which itself is based on an Italian tale, which itself is based on a French adaptation of another novel, which is no doubt based on some Greek mythology, which is no doubt based on prehistorical stories standing in for science. Everything is based on something. Therefore, nothing is original.

Unless you look at originality as simply uniqueness. “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare is a much different type of story telling than the original Greek myth it probably comes from. That kid in high school is not the same person as his friend from California. And my Logical Technology company would not sell the same kinds of devices as Logitech. Even though they are all based on something from the past they have been morphed and rebuilt in many cases to be something different, yet familiar. That’s why the iPhone is not much different from the devices that came before it, but technically it is original.

And you, too, are also original. You just don’t know it yet.

-Diggs out

P.S. – I wrote this because I just got a new Bluetooth Logitech keyboard, that I have connected to my tablet. There’s no real-time spellcheck, at least in the WordPress app, so forgive me for the spelling errors.

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