Is it necessary for people to imitate others before they can become original and creative?

Essay prompts from the most recent SAT administration in January 2013.

Prompt 1

Think carefully about the issue presented in the following excerpt and the assignment below.

People generally prefer originality to imitation, which is often considered inferior and second-rate. However, we have learned most of what we know by imitating others. Mastering any skill or gaining any knowledge means that we must learn from those who have gone before us. In fact, it is not until we have imitated others and learned from them what there is to know that we can strike out on our own and maybe create something new.

Assignment: Is it necessary for people to imitate others before they can become original and creative? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.

2013-2-14 9:10:41

Posted by DoctorZ | 阅读全文 | 回复(6) | 引用通告 | 编辑

Re:Is it necessary for people to imitate others before they can become original and creative?

This is also a good essay that i see relavent to this essay for your reference - you can view more related essays in the following address -

It is important for people to imitate others before they can become original and creative. Imitation can be looked down upon by society; however, it is not as bad as it is chalked up to be. Imitation allows people to establish themselves. People have role models and admire them. A person aspires to achieve as much as their idol has done. Imitating a role model is necessary to be original and creative because mimicking allows one to be put in a position to influence others and to build upon qualities of the role model.

Athletes are an everyday example of imitation. Athletes have role models that they look up to while growing up. For example, superstar athlete LeBron James has stated in numerous interviews that he aspired to be like Michael Jordan while growing up. He was influenced by someone who was successful and is considered the greatest of all time. Mimicking Michael Jordan’s game, LeBron has been put into a position where he is an idol for others. He can now show off his creativity, which others can look up to. LeBron James has established himself to the point that others will look up to him. He is in the perfect position to show off his originality and creativity. Imitation has allowed him to be one of the most successful athletes of today, and he is not considered inferior. His talent in the game of basketball is unmatched. The superstar athlete has reached a level where he can display this creative skills.

Great leaders have been influenced by others ideas to influence major changes in society. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. was influenced by the ways of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Martin Luther King Jr. looked to avoid violence and was a pacifist. However, he did not hold back while fighting for the deserving rights of African-Americans. Gandhi executed this idea in India while fighting for independence from Great Britain. Even Gandhi was influenced by the ideas of Henry David Thoreau, who cherished the idea of “Civil Disobedience”. This idea was carried out by Gandhi to stand up to the oppressive government. However, not all methods were exactly the same, and were for slightly different purposes. Each approach had originality and creativity to it. Society should not consider imitation of an idea as inferior, just because it is building off of an existing idea.

I am influenced by Steve Jobs. I like to think outside the box and think of creative ways to present things. I try to pick up great social skills. I like to communicate, which is one thing Jobs was really good at. He could present and market new technology, and that would make a person want to buy the product. I only try to build on the better qualities of Jobs. For example, I know that not many people can make it to the top by dropping out of college after a semester. Jobs was an exception. I try to mimic qualities that I admire about Steve Jobs, but put my own twist on it. This allows me to be creative and original. Just because I imitate certain skills Jobs had, does not mean I am any less original. It is imperative to imitate a role model to pick up qualities that one admires.

In conclusion, imitation of a role model does not take away from originality and creativity. Just because a person aspires to learn great qualities and wants to be like someone else, does not make one less original; the person can then be put in a position to be original and creative. Others would look up to him/her. People may only want certain qualities of a role model. These people can mix and match different characteristics and be a completely original person. To imitate people that have established themselves does not make one inferior. Imitating a role model is necessary to be original and creative because mimicking allows one to be put in a position to influence others and to build upon qualities of the role model. All people are different, and not even the best imitation will take away from originality.

2013-2-17 10:36:46

Posted by doctorzhang | 个人主页 | 引用 | 返回 | 删除 | 回复

Re:Is it necessary for people to imitate others before they can become original and creative?


Imitate or innovate? In the world of business, imitate wins.

What’s the quickest way to startup success? One is to think of a great innovation. Another is to copy someone else’s great innovation. That's a lot easier than coming up with your own. And it’s often a shorter, surer path to your first million - or billion.

Just ask the Samwer brothers, Oliver, 39, Marc, 41 and Alexander, 37. The founders of Berlin-based imitator incubator Rocket Internet, they’ve cloned dozens of successful internet companies, from eBay to Facebook. And all three of them are billionaires.

Until recently, the Samwers kept a low profile. The press usually referred to them as secretive. But lately they’ve been getting more attention. After all, it’s hard not to draw attention when you’re raking in billions by copying almost every successful Internet company that comes along.

But could the growing acceptance of the Samwer brothers also be due to the fact that people in the tech industry are finally admitting in public that imitation is good business?

We decided to find out. We couldn’t get the Samwers on the phone, so we called up Oded Shenkar, the man who wrote the book on the business of clones: Copycats: How Smart Companies Use Imitation to Gain a Strategic Edge.

“In the tech startup world, people tend to equate entrepreneurial activity with innovation, and that’s the wrong assumption,” said Shenkar, a professor of management and human resources at Ohio State University. “There’s a long history of successful startups that are built on imitation, not innovation.”

Facebook is one. Apple is another. We should recognize Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs as great imitators, Shenkar said. Zuckerberg didn't invent social networking. Friendster launched in 2002, MySpace and LinkedIn in 2003. Facebook didn't come along until 2004. Similarly, Jobs cobbled together the Macintosh user interface circa 1984 out of ideas and technology he first encountered at Xerox PARC in 1979. Shankar doesn't count these imitations against the two men. Rather, he celebrates their seminal work in duplication.

“We have this reverence for innovation, but imitation is often the key to success," Shenkar explained. "Imitation was critical to human evolution, and today imitation is more critical than ever - because it’s much cheaper and more feasible than previously. Business is the only discipline that’s 50 years behind, in that it looks at imitation as a dumb thing that’s done by people who can’t innovate. In all other academic fields there is a belief that imitation is an intelligent capability. But in business we’re still stuck on this religion of innovation.”

Partly that’s because innovation is hard, and the business world exalts high achievers. But imitation isn’t easy, Shenkar said. You have to know how to do it, which is why some imitators fail and others, like the Samwers, succeed so well. Their hit rate is around 50 percent. Their neatest trick: copying successful companies, then selling the knockoffs to the originals. They sold their Groupon clone to Groupon. Recently they sold their version of to

And imitation does not work only in the internet world, Shenkar pointed out. It’s easier there, yes, but copycatting has long been common in all sorts of industries. RC introduced the original diet cola, Diet Rite, in 1958, but it was flattened by imitations from Coke and Pepsi. European discount airline Ryanair was in a downward spiral until management flew off to Texas to learn from Southwest how to properly run a cut-rate carrier. Now Ryanair is profitable. Hertz and Enterprise are currently in the process of ripping off Zipcar.

When imitators execute well, they usually succeed better than the first movers, because they study the errors of the innovators and learn from them, as Facebook learned from the mistakes of MySpace.

“Every study that has looked at this issue has found support for the imitators,” Shenkar said. “And even those that found a modest advantage for the pioneers invariably found that the effect is getting smaller over time. So even if there is an advantage for innovators, it’s getting smaller not larger, despite our worship of innovators. On balance, the research supports the imitators and we’re moving more and more into an imitator age.”

2013-2-14 9:13:19

Posted by doctorzhang | 个人主页 | 引用 | 返回 | 删除 | 回复

Re:Is it necessary for people to imitate others before they can become original and creative?


I learn through imitation. I innovate through imitation.

I've been having some jazz piano lessons recently in preparation for a project I'm working on in 2013 with The Prince Consort and British jazz pianist Jason Rebello. His Make it Real is a personal favourite and he's also recorded some great tunes on Alyn Cosker's album Lyn's Une  and some super-slick solos as part of Sting's band. Emma Pomfret has just written an article in The Times on this kind of cross-genre collaboration.

When I had my first session, I was quite obsessed with which notes I should play on which chords and how I could create melodic figures out of nowhere. But one of the main things that Jason talked about was jazz 'feel', and he said that this is often the crucial element missing from many musicians' initial attempts at the genre.

He told me to develop this skill by listening to a jazz track that I loved - I picked Freddie Freeloader from Miles Davis' A Kind of Blue - and not only to transcribe it from the recording, but to play along with it to such an extent that I am precisely aligning what I do with what Wynton Kelly does on the recording…all the accents, all the dynamics, all the phrasing, all the tiny differences in rhythmic placement against the beat.

The idea is that when you have practised in this way enough, something clicks, and the imitation becomes part of your own style and a natural part of your playing. A bit like putting on another musician's jacket until you complete absorb their style, and can then draw on it for yourself.

Classically trained

This is at odds with a statement you hear frequently regurgitated in interviews and conversations with some classical musicians:

'I don't like to listen to any recordings, until I've worked out my interpretation of the piece in case I copy the recordings.'

Well, I disagree. I quite like listening to recordings before I play something. Not just to hear how the piece goes, but also to get ideas from other musicians and to discover any performance practice issues that there might be. And yes…with the intention of 'borrowing' some of those ideas for my own performance. I would never copy in performance one entire interpretation from someone else, note for note, rubato for rubato, since a major part of being an musician is to bring something new to the table.

But I'm interested to know what would happen if I took the approach mentioned in the first paragraph in the practice studio, and tried playing along with legendary pianists such as Rubinstein and Horowitz, playing a piece as if I were in their shoes. Easier said than done of course and I would be delighted if someone said to me accusingly…'well, you played that just like Horowitz'. Fine by me, that'll do! It is a subject that has wide-ranging views, as this excellent Gramophone piece from Mark Wigglesworth demonstrates.

Learning through imitation

In reality, taking ideas from a recording is not dissimilar to how you might be taught to play the piano in the first place, even if you don't realise it. I remember studying the Rachmaninov arrangement of Kreisler's Liebeslied, and my teacher telling me very specifically how to place the second beat of the waltz early and the third beat a fraction late, to give it an extra lift.

When I first tried this it sounded contrived and self-conscious, but as I practised it more and more, it became a part of my interpretive artillery, and a skill that I could draw on when I approached another piece that was similar. Listening to, and imitating, a recording is not a lot different; but instead of it being a teacher demonstrating to you in a lesson, it's a recorded performance.

What I find interesting is that we classical musicians are always trying to sound improvised when we perform, and in order to do this we try to steer away from listening to other people so that we are totally individual; but if you go to the jazz pianists who improvise all the time, their freedom comes from imitating, assimilating and only then…innovating.

An improvised performance

There's also the question of performance practice and history. Sometimes when you look at a score certain things are not necessarily clear-cut and obvious. Take, for example, the ending of Chopin's Polonaise-Fantasie where it's not clear by looking at the sheet music whether to line up some notes with other notes. Do you align the triplets in the right hand thumb against the dotted semi-quavers in the RH upper part or do you make a difference between the two rhythms? You could play it either way and no single way is right or wrong.

Why not check and see what Alicia DeLarrocha thinks about it, or what Vladimir Ashkenazy's view on the subject is? You can gather these together and make a more informed decision for yourself, based not only on your own convictions, but also based on the performance history of the piece. And I'm not talking about performance practice in a tie-dye shirt, and socks and sandals kind of way; I'm talking about sitting down and listening to performances you respect, and thinking 'I'd like to bring a bit of this into my own playing'. For the record, here's Evgeny Kissin's choice (at 12:15).

A borrowed voice

One of the things I love about Stephen Hough’s performances are not only his brilliant and immaculate pianism, but also his respect for the score and also recordings, particularly if they are recordings by the composer. He mentions in his sleeve notes for his complete Rachmaninov Concertos CDs that Rachmaninov in his recordings often took much faster tempi than are generally performed nowadays and this is reflected in Stephen’s own performance.

I know that in this case, Stephen intentionally did not listen to the actual concertos that he was recording as he was preparing them, and that his awareness of Rachmaninov's style was something that he had accrued after many years of listening to his recordings of lots of repertoire, but nevertheless I think it’s insightful if stylistic elements from the composer’s own playing come through in modern performances. Here’s Stephen performing the opening of Rach 2 as an example.

I'll leave you with an eloquent analogy from the literary world, where the T.S. Eliot beautifully captures the positive dynamic between influence and innovation:

One of the surest tests [of the superiority or inferiority of a poet] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take; and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.

'Philip Massinger', The Sacred Wood, T.S. Eliot.

2013-2-14 9:13:01

Posted by doctorzhang | 个人主页 | 引用 | 返回 | 删除 | 回复

Re:Is it necessary for people to imitate others before they can become original and creative?


Complementary material for this essay

Innovation and Imitation in action

Is copying, or imitation in another word, a form of innovation in itself? Here is a real world study about their relationships.

On Aug. 24, a San Jose jury awarded Apple Inc. a whopping $1.05 billion in damages. Apple had accused Samsung of copying its intellectual property, including its very broad design patents for rectangular "electronic devices." And Apple wants to use those patents to stop its competitor from selling items like the new (rectangular) Galaxy tablet and (rectangular) Android-based smartphones.

Now, you may be thinking that a lot of devices in your house are rectangular. Perhaps you're even reading one now. Televisions, laptop screens, Amazon's Kindle. Even the Ur-reading device — paper — is rectangular.

Apple, in designing the iPad and iPhone, created its version of a rectangular reading platform. Yet now Apple has succeeded in punishing Samsung for much the same thing: copying a rectangular design. And this highlights a central issue in today's innovation-based economy. What is the proper balance between competition and copying?

Intellectual property law is based on the notion that copying is bad for creativity. It is usually cheaper to copy something than create something wholly new. If innovators are not protected against imitation, they will not invest in more innovation. At least that's how the story goes.

The real world, however, tells a different story. Imitation is at the center of an enormous amount of innovation. Rules against copying are sometimes necessary. But in many cases, they serve to slow down innovation. Copying, in short, is often central to creativity.

How can copying be beneficial? Because it can enable as well as inhibit innovation. When we think of innovation, we usually picture a lonely genius toiling away until he or she finally has an "aha!" moment. In fact, innovation is often an incremental, collective and competitive process. And the ability to build on existing creative work — to tweak and refine it — is critical to the creation of new and better things.

Once we look, we see examples all around us. Thomas Edison's light bulb imitated elements from a dozen earlier bulbs. Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" borrowed from earlier writers, and "West Side Story" in turn drew heavily from Shakespeare. This kind of copying and tweaking often leads to more choice in the marketplace — many variations on a theme — and more competition, which is good for consumers. Copying can also drive the process of invention, as competitors strive to stay ahead. And copying can serve as a powerful form of advertising for originators, one that carries weight because it is authentic. Copying may even expand a market by creating a trend.

We can see this dynamic best by looking at industries in which copying is legal, where our intellectual property laws do not reach. A great example is cuisine.

Surprisingly, chefs have almost no rights in their creations. Recipes can be legally copied by anyone, including a competitor. It happens all the time. Molten chocolate cake; miso-glazed black cod — these dishes and many more have been widely knocked off.


2013-2-14 9:12:43

Posted by doctorzhang | 个人主页 | 引用 | 返回 | 删除 | 回复

Re:Is it necessary for people to imitate others before they can become original and creative?

Does Copying Kill Creativity?

Our research suggests that often, it does not—and sometimes it even helps!

Published on September 26, 2012 by Chris Sprigman in The Knockoff Economy

Well before there were legal rules—like patent and copyright—that seek to spark creativity, there was the human urge to create. The famed cave paintings in Lascaux, France, are at least 15,000 years old, and there are creative works that may be far older. Some even contend that there is an “art instinct” that drives individuals to produce things of beauty and meaning.

Regardless of its origin, clearly many of us do have an urge to create new things, or at least a preference for it, and we indulge that preference when we can—whether or not our innovations are protected against copying. One writer aptly put it this way: “Edison was born to be an inventor, Barishnikov was born to be a dancer, and no matter what the legal rules, Edison would no more have stopped inventing than Barishnikov would have stopped dancing.”

The premise of laws against copying, however, is that humanity’s innate or socially determined desire to create is simply not enough in a modern innovation-based economy. To have sustained innovation—and to do so in areas that require significant investments of time and money—it is necessary to have a reliable expectation of economic reward. This is true both for creators and for the intermediaries—publishers, record and pharmaceutical companies, and the like—that in a modern economy often fund, organize, and distribute innovative work.

In our legal system, that expectation of reward rests on rules that guarantee a monopoly over a given creation for a period of time and restrain copying by others. The result is that the creator, and not the copyist, enjoys whatever profits may flow from the innovation. Knowing this, the creator is encouraged to create. We will call this basic approach the monopoly theory of innovation.

The monopoly theory and its belief in the destructive power of imitation are widely accepted. The monopoly theory is hostile to imitation because imitation, it is thought, inevitably undermines later rewards. As a result, imitation can destroy the incentive to innovate in the first place. This is why so many observers are so fearful of the emergence of technologies, such as the Internet and filesharing, that make copying cheaper and easier. More copying, they believe, must mean less creativity.

But is this really the case? We and others have examined a wide array of innovative industries that, in one way or another, challenge this basic premise. Fashion, food, fonts, football, financial innovations—in all of these creative areas, and more, copying is free and often legal. Sometimes copying is simply permitted as a matter of practicality. But in all, innovations are open to imitation. By the lights of the monopoly theory, these industries should be only weakly creative. Yet the opposite is true. These industries are vibrantly creative.

My colleague Kal Raustiala and I discuss this research in our new book, The Knockoff Economy. And we believe that it's important to better understand the complex relationship between copying and creativity. Our research suggests that in many instances, copying and creativity can co-exist. This does not mean that copying is always good. Nor does it mean that our copyright and patent laws ought to be abolished; they are an important element in our economic and cultural vibrancy. But it does mean that the relationship between imitation and innovation is much more subtle than commonly believed. We do not face a stark choice between the two. In some creative endeavors imitation has little effect on innovation. And in others, imitation can even spark innovation. The really interesting question is when—and why—this is true.


2013-2-14 9:12:23

Posted by doctorzhang | 个人主页 | 引用 | 返回 | 删除 | 回复

Re:Is it necessary for people to imitate others before they can become original and creative?


It is arguable that all innovation actually starts from imitation. We learn from      imitation. We get to know the world around through imitating our parents, our teachers, our mentors, and co-workers. One day when we are too old, we think about our past, look after our youngsters, and imitate them and imagine the next life.

Let’s take a look of the phenomena of knockoff, a form of imitation in the modern business world. Scientific analysis has shown that indeed imitation, in this case in the form of knockoff, actually helps innovation.

From the shopping mall to the corner bistro, knockoffs are everywhere in today's marketplace. Conventional wisdom holds that copying kills creativity, and that laws that protect against copies are essential to innovation--and economic success. But are copyrights and patents always necessary? In The Knockoff Economy, Kal Raustiala and Christopher Sprigman provocatively argue that creativity can not only survive in the face of copying, but can thrive.

The Knockoff Economy approaches the question of incentives and innovation in a wholly new way--by exploring creative fields where copying is generally legal, such as fashion, food, and even professional football. By uncovering these important but rarely studied industries, Raustiala and Sprigman reveal a nuanced and fascinating relationship between imitation and innovation. In some creative fields, copying is kept in check through informal industry norms enforced by private sanctions. In others, the freedom to copy actually promotes creativity. High fashion gave rise to the very term "knockoff," yet the freedom to imitate great designs only makes the fashion cycle run faster--and forces the fashion industry to be even more creative.

Raustiala and Sprigman carry their analysis from food to font design to football plays to finance, examining how and why each of these vibrant industries remains innovative even when imitation is common. There is an important thread that ties all these instances together--successful creative industries can evolve to the point where they become inoculated against--and even profit from--a world of free and easy copying. And there are important lessons here for copyright-focused industries, like music and film, that have struggled as digital technologies have made copying increasingly widespread and difficult to stop.

Raustiala and Sprigman's arguments have been making headlines in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Boston Globe, Le Monde, and at the Freakonomics blog, where they are regular contributors. By looking where few had looked before--at markets that fall outside normal IP law--The Knockoff Economy opens up fascinating creative worlds. And it demonstrates that not only is a great deal of innovation possible without intellectual property, but that intellectual property's absence is sometimes better for innovation.

2013-2-14 9:12:03

Posted by doctorzhang | 个人主页 | 引用 | 返回 | 删除 | 回复


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