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Learning A Lesson From Morse’s Code

February 6, 2013

Morse (Photo credit: Groume)

by Kerry Kilpatrick

“If the presence of electricity can be made visible in any part of the circuit, I see no reason why intelligence may not be transmitted instantaneously by electricity.” Samuel F.B. Morse, Inventor of the Telegraph and Morse Code

Samuel Morse’s startling idea in 1832 that electricity could be used to transmit information was the start of the massive movement we now think of as communication technology. It launched the paradigm shift that resulted in the technology of today that is allowing you to read this information.

Prior to Morse’s brilliant idea, electricity was just a plaything. People didn’t really know what to make of it or what to do with it. Morse’s amazing idea was that you could use electricity to transfer knowledge and information. What is fascinating to me, and should be a lesson to all of us, is what Morse did next with his idea. I will let his son, who compiled his father’s letters, journals and diaries for publication, say it in his own words:

“The fixed idea had, however, taken root in Morse’s brain and obsessed him….Soon his ideas were so far focused that he sought to give them expression on paper, and he drew from his pocket one of the little sketch-books which he always carried with him, and rapidly jotted down in sketches and words the ideas as they rushed from his brain.”

Why did Morse always carry a “little sketch book” with him? Why was he in the habit of trapping his ideas and thoughts that ultimately changed the world? I believe he understood something that most of us fail to realize. He understood there is amazing power in formulating our thoughts into words, or as his son claimed, “give them expression”.

Trapping your ideas, by writing them down, begins the first step of making them real and apparently results in greater levels of creativity. Journal users talk about their journals “getting into their head” or creating a “rush of ideas” or not being able “to write fast enough to capture all my thoughts”.

Most people aren’t in the habit of keeping a journal because they don’t see how it makes a difference. History shows that a journal has often been present at the start of many of the great achievements throughout time. Would Morse have come up with the idea of transferring information via electricity without a journal? It’s hard to answer that question definitively. The more important question to ask is why did so many of the creative geniuses throughout time know the importance of keeping a journal.

Did the geniuses simply know to keep a journal or did the journals inspire genius? I don’t think at this point we have all the facts to answer that question. You can, however, do an experiment that will give you some personal insight into how a journal alters your thinking. Simply get a journal and start writing in it each day. Trap your ideas, thoughts, inspirations, questions and observations. Then write down anything you notice regarding how you change the way you look at life as you consider capturing it in your subsequent journal entries. I think you’ll find yourself looking at life differently. Then you’ll begin to understand why so many people when they describe geniuses say they “look at life differently.”

Let me know what you observe!

If you want to look at Morse’s journals they are available here:


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