Why is it hard to do cool things?

"Why is it hard to do cool things?"

It's a good moan to have. It means you're trying, and you feel pain.

Some people told me that if it was easy, everyone would do it, and the coolness would be spread like margarine spread by a stingy person. You'd have to retreat to harder things to get a decent share. I can see the logic.

But I'm not sure that's all. When you build a computer in minecraft, that's cool, and the coolness doesn't depend on the tools. If this serial connection on the headband thing I'm working on had worked first time, the project would have been no worse. In fact, it would be better, because the damn thing still doesnt work properly. Jonty took the internet by storm with something he made, insomniac and irritated this morning. I don't see why coolness has to be zero-sum, anyway.

So all these thing have simple powerful ideas underlying them, and I guess you could argue the ideas are what count. But any idea can fuck itself up with a cackhanded implementation (and if you know a counter-example I would be overjoyed to steal it.)

So maybe you need talent. That's a large part, that and caring about what you produce. The two are very similar, really. One lets you implement well, one makes you need to.

I could come up with counterexamples to the talent and giving-a-fuck part, but I don't want to. They depress me. Anyway, you can also get lucky. Take risks, sometimes they pay off. Make the hell out of five hackdays, one or two resulting projects will be super cool. At least. Guaranteed.

But you have to really try.

Anyway, I'm not sure the premise holds, either. It's hard to do cool things? You could start tomorrow. I make many assumptions because you are in a position where you're reading this but really - you have some free time! You have a computer! You've no excuse.

Especially because - it just gets easier. Tools are better, cheaper, and better explained than before. Your supposed rivals in the make-cool-things race? They'll help you make shit just as cool as theirs, just to see what you come up with. If you want to make games? Flash is free! Unity is free! Excellent instructional material is free! The Internet us full of people who will solve your problems for you granted a modicum of respect.

This continuing feeling, that cool shit is hard? It just points out cool shit yet to be invented. Nowt's as good as pain for showing you opportunities. Previous-George, shut the hell up and work out how to make an Arduino library for Unity. It's cool, it's useful, and it's easy. Everyone else, I'm sure you have that thing that the lack of makes your cool thing hard. Make that, and don't give up in despair if it also turns out to be hard. I'm sure it's worth it.

28 October 2010