How to Fly a Horse

"How to Fly a Horse"
By Kevin Ashton

The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery

How much creation, invention, and discovery is truly the result of independent inspired thought? Kevin Ashton would argue this is an exceedingly rare event. He does so in his book How to Fly a Horse. Admittedly for a person inspired and intrigued by even the very words “creation” “invention” “discovery”, this can seem a disenchanting position to take. Far from it, though, Kevin Ashton walks through the history of sequential innovation resulting in some of the familiar world-changing technologies we rely on every day in modern society. It’s not that there is nothing new and inventors should not be credited with their work, but rather the realization that new inventions depend on old inventions. New discoveries have foundations in earlier discoveries.

It’s not a statistical anomaly or superhuman IQ that makes the next leap possible. It’s an interest in things; knowledge of things varied and broad that can be compared, contrasted, and reapplied in new ways. Creation, invention, and discovery are things within the reach of all willing to take interest and make the connections. Think of how often inventors of machines have cited their inspiration from something seen in nature. How leaps in technological development quickly built upon new discoveries in biology, or physics, economics, social sciences. The ease of accessibility and an unfathomable amount of knowledge freely available on the internet is unique to our modern time across all of human history. There’s no hindrance to taking advantage of that, but you do have to put it to work.

The Wizard of Menlo Park summed it up by saying “Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.” Thomas Edison is famous for the volume of patents and inventions he produced. He was also known to be a voracious reader on a wide variety of subjects. His constant pursuit of knowledge and determination to test different combinations of ideas building on the shoulders of others’ works is what brought his success.  How To Fly A Horse is an interesting title and an even more interesting read. Pick up a copy and get inspired by your own potential for creating great things. Your success should be no surprise if you continue to pursue learning and actively stay busy with your ideas.

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