Emulate Instead

So bottom line: Copying hurts you. You miss out on what makes something good. Instead, try to be exposed to a variety of perspectives and points of view. Take whatever you find useful and leave the rest behind. Fill in the gaps with your own ideas. In the end you have make your own way forward.

[via 37signals.com]

When I first decided to learn HTML, I cruised around the World Wide Web, surfed even, looking for sites that I liked. “View Source” became my new best friend. I ripped code from page after page, threw it into a text editor, made changes, poked, prodded, and flipped code to see how it all worked.

Then, I threw it all away and fashioned my own place on the Internet. A little Geocities home that I spent days finessing. In retrospect, it was a hideous “Web 1.0” abomination replete with animated GIFs, HTML banner, and that horror that made Lovecraft roll in his grave… background music in full stereo MIDI!

Ah, the good old days.

I’ve got to agree with Jason. I see no problem with deconstructing as a method of learning, but simply copying is a waste. A good approach is to learn and then try to emulate the good in your own work. Emulate. Don’t replicate.