PPP Amber was the highest level of students I had ever taught, thus the most challenging one. The group consisted of students who were going to commence a master’s degree at University of Canberra in February 2012. To teach this group on Monday next week I had to read an article from an international journal. Written by three researchers from the USA, the article primarily discusses gender differences occurring in the use of one of the most sophisticated technologies. As fascinating as it may seem, I felt the article was yet somewhat surreptitious. While digesting the content of the article, I was amazed when a hidden meaning was unravelled.
What the researchers were doing in the article was basically commenting on what Steve Jobs had created. They, and other academics in relevant area alike, were commentators of Steve Jobs. They undertook research and commented on Jobs’ products. Whereas the academics are commentators, people like Jobs are creators.
Creators create things, although not necessarily from scratch. Then they sell them; and if people like their stuff, they get famous and rich. Seriously, that what happens with Jobs’ Apple. And that what happens with Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook.
I guess a significant difference lies between commenting and creating, between commentators and creators. Commenting is a blend of both shrewd observation and critical analysis. But creating goes beyond. It requires creativity and will power. Creators are creative people whose strong determination is irrefutable.
Regardless of their remarkable intellect, commentators work for creators, not vice versa. This explains why a Harvard dropout like Zuckerberg is able to employ some of the brightest minds, famous university graduates, in his company.
If someone asks me which of these two I would choose, my answer is crystal clear. I would choose creating.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with being a commentator, or being an academic, if you like. There are many positive things that academics could positively contribute to humanity.
However I found being a creator is more appealing. To me creating provides me with opportunities to contribute and make change in the world, a fiery passion I had kept secretive for a while. Creating allows you to do so much more, to contribute more. It gives you the opportunity to leave a legacy to humanity. Yes, that’s the one. Steve Jobs contributed to the world by creating Apple, iPad, and the like.
The notion of creating and commenting is however not merely bounded to technology. It is applicable to other fields. In literature, commentators are reviewers and critics, whereas creators are authors.
When I decided to start writing part-time early this month, I made a drastic yet unequivocally urgent change in the course of my life. It is more than likely that I will abandon my youth passion of becoming an academic.
I want to become a writer because I want to create things, to leave a legacy to humanity. Jobs’ way of leaving a legacy was by creating Apple, Zuckerberg’s way was by creating Facebook, mine is by writing books.
It may sound naive and youth-like, but that’s just the way it is.
When I made this decision, I was not unaware of the risks it carries. As many have suggested, except for the chosen few, writing does not promise me a stable financial security. Only some writers are determined best-selling writers, while thousands or maybe hundreds of thousand others barely make a living.
But I guess when you love what you do, nothing is going to stop you from doing it, right? Even when obstacles stand in the way, but you’re smart and patient enough, you’ll always find ways to get around them. Thus, to whatever that is going to happen in the future, I am going to say, “So be it.”
I have written a book in Indonesian, and it makes me happy. Now my fiery passion for publishing in English has just gone ablaze. With what I am doing now, I’m just hoping that I’m on the right track.
Written by Subhan Zein in Canberra, 13 January 2012