At the risk of sounding ‘arty-farty’ and woowoo it’s my opinion that to be human is to be creative and anytime we dismiss what we, or someone else does as “just technical” some essential human quality is being denied. Let me try and make some sense of that.
If you spend any time reading the tweeted thoughts of louder members of the Wi-Fi expert community, you’ll realise they don’t all get on. Sometimes this is the result of personality clashes or political differences, but often there’s strong disagreement about how one should implement Wi-Fi. So if two highly experienced engineers disagree and sling the mud over how Wi-Fi works, what chance do the rest of us mortals have of understanding it? Is the real problem we’ve fallen for the lie that working in an engineering role is not creative?
Creativity is sometimes hard to define. We can probably agree that photographers, composers and sculptors are creative people. Which is interesting because photography and sculpting have profoundly technical elements,
My working life has been a mix of technical jobs and what would be classed as creative. I’ve looked after IT in schools and charities, and now networks at a university. I’ve also been a BBC radio reporter, presenter and programme maker.
It was at the BBC where I saw a sharp divide between the ‘creatives’ and the ‘technical’ people, who were of course in the minority. Yet when you’ve seen how a BBC Local Radio engineer can enable a complex outside broadcast with limited equipment and no budget, it’s tempting to question who does the most creative, original thinking.
I believe we do ourselves a disservice when we consider that techie work is not creative. This thinking lends towards the idea there’s a right and a wrong answer, when that’s often not the case; that we have to work with absolutes and have all the answers in order to take things forward. That there is no creative process, there’s merely knowing a series of facts and applying them.
I often feel we’ve got wrong what it means to be creative and we fail to recognise the creativity in what we do and it’s importance.
Even the simplest network presents options, decisions that have to be made and planned out. As things get more complex that bigger picture needs more careful thought and, yes, creative solutions.