You built your accomplishments
And your life
On the works of countless people who came before you.
And when you are dead
Perhaps you will be awarded the honour
Of others building their achievements on your work.
It is not a matter of standing on the shoulders of giants
It’s a matter of standing on the shoulders of thousands upon thousands of people
Over thousands of thousands of years.
Culture and science,
That is to say human achievements,
No one can really claim credit for doing a thing on their own
Because they built upon the achievements and groundwork
Of the people who came before them;
All the way back to the first monkey to link cause and effect
Or the first caveman to scrawl simple arithmetic on the floor.
For example, anyone who creates a billion dollar app
Leverages hundreds of years of physics, and decades of computer science
(Amongst other things)
Going all the way back from the people who invented the coding language used to build the app
And the first folks to lay down the formal mathematics we use to build a computer.
The same with music;
The now famous musician who writes a hit song
Has to give credit to the countless number of people
Who developed the linguistic structure in which he or she has written the lyrics
The musical structure in which harmonic, melodic and rhythmic parts of the music combine
And the recording technology in which he or she was able to capture his or her work.
In your achievements
Perhaps you can acknowledge that
You are a link in a great chain
And that you are helping to build this great thing
That we call human knowledge (or human culture) together.
“If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?” – Albert Einstein
Photo by jason-sh