Better Blogging: Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants

Better Blogging: Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants

Earlier this week I wrote an article about better blogging ideas gleaned from R.E.M. songs. You can read that article here. However, I didn’t share my favorite R.E.M. song, as I felt it required an article all its own.

If you’ve never listened to this particular song, you’re unaware that the lyrics repeatedly reference “standing on the shoulders of giants.” Not a phrase that R.E.M. penned.

The most famous and well known use of the phrase came from Sir Isaac Newton, in a letter he wrote to his peer and rival Robert Hooke. Newton was not the originator of the phrase either, however. A variation of the phrase was used by a 12th century theologian. But there’s no definitive use that can be deemed the original.

Before I lose you by rambling about origin, I’ll share that the phrase, used often by theologians and scientists, says that our contributions to our discussions and the furthering of our work have been affected by the contributions and discussions of those who came before us.

Singer sing me a given
Singer sing me a song
Standing on the shoulders of giants
Everybody’s looking on

As marketers, and especially as bloggers, we are always searching for something new to share, something to generate discussion, something to spark conversation. However the topics about which we write are often based on the ideas of others, our peers, colleagues and even our “competition.”

It’s important to step off the shoulders of those giants and create something new and unique to call our own idea, even if it’s been generated by our understanding and interpretation of the thoughts of others.

Standing on the shoulders of giants
Leaves me cold, leaves me cold
A mean idea to call my own
A hundred million birds fly away, away, away

It’s that interpretation, that “making it our own,” that allows those ideas to take flight, worthy of sharing across the many social media platforms we frequent.

While it’s quite possible that there are no truly new ideas, I don’t think we’ve exhausted our means to add a unique take and a personalized understanding to the concepts we discuss daily. It’s our ability to extract that unique take that allows us to step down from the shoulders of giants and generate ideas on our own.

So, there it is. My final R.E.M. song shared along with an idea for better blogging. I hope you’ll take a listen to my favorite song and comment on the idea of taking inspiration from others as we generate new ideas of our own.