Moreover, those folks who produce the new patentable inventions and found the new companies to produce them - they, too, are artistically trained: they are far more likely to have continuous participation in drawing, painting, dancing, woodworking, metal working, and mechanics than their less innovative peers. Ninety percent of them, in interviews, expressed the opinion that the arts should be part of every scientists and technologists education. Eighty percent of them could point to specific ways in which their arts training directly enhanced their innovative ability.
For thousands of years, people have speculated that there’s some correlation between sadness and creativity, so that people who are a little bit miserable (think Van Gogh, or Dylan in 1965, or Virginia Woolf) are also the most innovative. Aristotle was there first, stating in the 4th century B.C.E. “that all men who have attained excellence in philosophy, in poetry, in art and in politics, even Socrates and Plato, had a melancholic habitus; indeed some suffered even from melancholic disease.” This belief was revived during the Renaissance, leading Milton to exclaim, in his poem Il Penseroso: “Hail, divinest melancholy/whose saintly visage is too bright/to hit the sense of human sight.” The romantic poets took the veneration of sadness to its logical extreme, and described suffering as a prerequisite for the literary life. As Keats wrote, “Do you not see how necessary a World of Pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?”
Well, it turns out the cliché might be true after all: Angst has creative perks. That, at least, is the conclusion of Modupe Akinola, a professor at Columbia Business School, in her paper “The Dark Side of Creativity: Biological Vulnerability and Negative Emotions Lead to Greater Artistic Creativity”…
The myth of “programming is the only creativity”
I’d argue, in fact, that the history of computing teaches us the exact opposite: the less people are required to learn programming in order to be creative with computers, the more creative work you get.
The history of computing over the past 30 years is a move away from requiring people to engage with computers “on their own terms” via programming, and towards enabling users to do creative things through applications. The flowering of creativity this has enabled has been the main creative triumph of the computer. Think of how much less creativity there would be without Photoshop, QuarkXPress, iMovie, or Final Cut, to pick just a few.
These tools have democratised creativity for millions of people. To claim that simply because a platform doesn’t have simple programming tools makes it “only for consumers” is as absurd as claiming that a platform which doesn’t have a easy-to-use DTP package is “only for consumers”. It’s the arrogance of assuming that your chosen mode of creativity is the only mode of creativity.
The geek era is over
The geeks – the people who have, so far, been the dominant part of culture in technology and the Internet – are like priests of a religion that finds themselves no longer the centre of their culture’s world. They are displaying all the standard behaviours of a dying religion: Flocking to new prophets, who aggresively promote their message; lashing out bitterly at the heretics who are “betraying” them; and even trying desperately to preserve their way of life by saying “look how easy it is to become a priest!”
What they don’t understand is that their place in the universe has changed. They’re still an important part of the culture, but they no longer run the world. They’re just a part of it, and their creativity is no more – or less – important than anyone else’s.
2 years agoJuly 22, 2010
The Creativity Crisis
Overwhelmed by curriculum standards, American teachers warn there’s no room in the day for a creativity class. Kids are fortunate if they get an art class once or twice a week. But to scientists, this is a non sequitur, borne out of what University of Georgia’s Mark Runco calls “art bias.” The age-old belief that the arts have a special claim to creativity is unfounded. When scholars gave creativity tasks to both engineering majors and music majors, their scores laid down on an identical spectrum, with the same high averages and standard deviations. Inside their brains, the same thing was happening—ideas were being generated and evaluated on the fly.
Researchers say creativity should be taken out of the art room and put into homeroom. The argument that we can’t teach creativity because kids already have too much to learn is a false trade-off. Creativity isn’t about freedom from concrete facts. Rather, fact-finding and deep research are vital stages in the creative process.
2 years agoJuly 11, 2010
3 years agoMay 24, 2010
Constraints Fuel Creativity
We are often led to believe that the more freedom we have the more creative we will be. Full creative license? Sweet. Unlimited budget? Awesome! No timetable? Even better.
I say embrace your constraints and draw out of them the very solution that sets you apart from the crowd.
The imposition of constraints can lead to great design decisions. Limitations often force you to view things from a perspective you are not accustomed to and, in turn, can stimulate the clarity and purpose of the design, rather than debilitate and hinder your creative process.
One of the most obvious and currently talked about examples is the iPhone (and as of yesterday, the iPad). There are incredible limitations with such a device. So many that people initially speculated it would be a massive failure. However, the team at Apple truly embodies this ethos. Despite physical constraints, technological constraints, time constraints and, of course, the “Steve” constraint, the team was able to unlock innovative solutions that allowed them to create something truly unique.
Are there problems with the iPhone? Yes. Of course there are. The point is if you want to create a truly compelling experience, don’t complain about your constraints; embrace them. And in doing so, set your creativity on fire!