Ryan Coyer, Assignment 17

1. what did you find
1.1. interesting about the article?

I found the fish-scales to be particularly interesting. It addresses the symmetry of ignorance issue that applies to many projects... a marketing person in a company might propose a product using perpetual motion, but it takes a physicist to tell him that it isn't possible. If the marketing person had taken a phyics class in college the problem wouldn't have happened. I think the fish-scale model is a very novel way to articulate the issue.

1.2. not interesting about the article?

The explanation of the EDC wasn't interesting because we've been exposed to it on numerous occasions. I am also wholly disinterested in interactive art.

2. what do you consider the main message of the article?

'No single person creates anything that is truly consequential by themselves.'

3. pick ONE of the four systems described in the article (Envisionment and Discovery Collaboratory, Caretta, Renga Creations, CodeBroker) and discuss which aspects of individual and social creativity they support!

I will endeavor to discuss the CodeBroker system. The system analyzes the individual creativity of the programmer (by examining syntax and apply semantic rules) and then delivers code fragments that the programmer might find useful. The programer and the CodeBroker system together exhibit social creativity, while the programmer on his own is only exhibiting individual creativity.

4. have you encountered interesting “boundary objects?” which ones? what features made them interesting?

I have no idea how to play the guitar (or any musical instrument), but I enjoy and frequently listen to music. A 'boundary object' between myself and a musician could be a particular song, for example. I can explain the parts of a song that I like and the musician can then explain to me how the parts are created... which allows me to seek out other songs that are made in the same fashion because I know what types of music to explore.
Similarly, I am horribly ignorant about most forms of art, but I can identify things that are pleasing to my eyes. So, when I'm in front of a nice piece of artwork with one of my artistically-inclined friends, she can explain to me the specific aspects of the art in terms that I can understand (boundary objects being colors, shapes, materials, etc.), and I can then seek out other art that would probably please my untrained eyes.

5. describe the most creative activity from your OWN life and analyze the individual and social aspect of your creative act!

During the summers between school years in high school, in I would usually perform some sort of community service (as a way of bolstering my college application). During one summer, I went to a work camp on an Indian reservation in Montana. The purpose of the camp was to build houses for an impoverished community that needed our help. The floorplans and schematics for all of the houses were generally the same, but the future inhabitants of the houses were constantly propsing small adaptations that would presumably make their lives better (wheel-chair ramps, covered patios, kitchen islands, etc.) I was a 'group leader' on this particular summer, and so I was responsible for the house that my group was building (for a wheel-chair bound elderly lady). She proposed a number of modifications to her house (individual creativity) and then I would draw up a preliminary design, and then myself and my team would discuss how to implement it, usually in consultation with the elderly lady (social creativity). If, for example, we had simply built a wheel-chair ramp in an arbitrary location, it probably wouldn't have been as useful as it proved to be after our conversations and planning sessions as a group.

6. which computational systems do you know which support individual and/or social creativity?

In one of my previous jobs, we used a system called StarTeam for debugging and testing a massive coding project. In other jobs I've had, when a large system is debugged, a tester would encounter a bug while running a test script and then forward his findings to the head of the QA deparment, who would then consult with the head of the Development team, who would then distribute the 'bug fix' assignments to the developers most closely related to the issue. The StarTeam system allowed the middle-men to be (partially) removed from the process by directly addressing the bug reports to the developer whose contributions most probably contained the bug. After the developer attempted a fix, the StarTeam system would inform the tester that found the bug and then the process would start again. It wasn't perfect, and there was still a great deal of overhead, but I found it to be quite useful and interesting.

The system supported both individual and social creativity in the following way: Each individual developer is responsible for various parts of the whole project, and the social interaction with the QA people allows that developer to contribute code that is better than he could have contributed on his own in the same time frame.