Katya and I were comparing notes last week about our blogs and the experience of blogging.
One of the biggest impacts blogging has had on me is that it forces me to develop thoughts that would normally remain 20% developed (in the form of casual observation) and form them into blog posts, which are about 80% fleshed out. (Katya and I both agreed that we’d leave the 100% development of ideas to professional journalists like Ellen McGirt at Fast Company…there’s something nice about the leeway blogging gives you not to be perfect, and in fact I think it’s just this leeway that gives space for creativity.)
Think about the impact, over years, of systematically taking ideas that are partially developed and developing them fully. Think about what you learn over time, both at the level of the individual idea – because the act of writing takes you places you didn’t know you’d go – and over time, from repeating this action every day.
I’ve been reading Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From – I’ll review it fully when I’m finished, as it’s one of the most interesting books I’ve read this year. The foundational idea in the book is that great ideas are formed in the “adjacent possible” space, the space that’s right at the edge of understanding of a particular problem you’re working to solve. Breakthrough insights typically come from the reassembly and reconfiguration of existing ideas that are right at the edge of what you know and what you don’t know.
This feels 100% right to me. Generosity Day, for example, grew out of my Generosity Experiment more than a year ago, coupled with the experience of helping create Search for the Obvious at Acumen Fund (really the brainchild of James Wu), along with the ongoing hunch I’d carried around for 14 months (and explored occasionally in other blog posts) that there was something bigger that could and should come of my personal exploration of generosity. Generosity Day was sitting in my adjacent possible space, and it took the panel at Social Media Week and the ensuing discussion with the other panelists to crystallize the “aha!” moment – that we were three days away from Generosity Day 2011, we just didn’t know it.
And if that’s right, then what serious bloggers do every day is expand – inch by inch, bit by bit – their own space of adjacent possibility.