Creating a Scenius
I’m tossing down a few notes for my friend Andrew Watt. On his recent blog post, he laments the ‘death of the web’ by the lack of adding links to posts.
I began writing this as a comment on his blog, but realized this post could be meta by writing and link to my article in his comments.
We hand out business cards for connection, with the web, links to our work are our new ‘calling card’ The links create a web, a trail of bread crumbs to find what you’re sharing.
This web of deliberate connection creates a digital “Scenius” a concept highlighted by Austin Kleon in his book “Show Your Work”.
There’s a healthier way of thinking about creativity that the musician Brian Eno refers to as “scenius.” Under this model, great ideas are often birthed by a group of creative individuals—artists, curators, thinkers, theorists, and other tastemakers—who make up an “ecology of talent.” If you look back closely at history, many of the people who we think of as lone geniuses were actually part of “a whole scene of people who were supporting each other, looking at each other’s work, copying from each other, stealing ideas, and contributing ideas.” Scenius doesn’t take away from the achievements of those great individuals: it just acknowledges that good work isn’t created in a vacuum, and that creativity is always, in some sense, a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds.
What I love about the idea of scenius is that it makes room in the story of creativity for the rest of us: the people who don’t consider ourselves geniuses. Being a valuable part of a scenius is not necessarily about how smart or talented you are, but about what you have to contribute—the ideas you share, the quality of the connections you make, and the conversations you start. If we forget about genius and think more about how we can nurture and contribute to a scenius, we can adjust our own expectations and the expectations of the worlds we want to accept us. We can stop asking what others can do for us, and start asking what we can do for others.
How does this tie together? Links create trails. If we are deliberate with our time, we can translate our links from little bread crumbs to become Thoroughbred Crumbs, or ‘Bred Crumbs. (Hat Tip to my buddy Tim Bland who owns www.bredcrumbs.com.)
Trying to wrap up, what I’m calling for a improvement to digital literacy/etiquette. I will write more on the topic.