Assignment 17: “Creativity”

paper: Fischer, G., Giaccardi, E., Eden, H., Sugimoto, M., & Ye, Y. (2005) "Beyond Binary Choices: Integrating Individual and Social Creativity," International Journal of Human-Computer Studies (IJHCS) Special Issue on Creativity (eds: Linda Candy and Ernest Edmond), p. (in press).

Briefly discuss the following issues:

1. what did you find

1.1. interesting about the article?

The discussion of the frameworks for analyzing and facilitating social creativity and how different computational systems applied them is particularly useful as a follow-up to the theoretical Hollans et al article on distributed cognition. These systems are much better at illustrating the distributed cognition approach than Pad++. And the fuller discussion of boundary objects and that people generate new knowledge around them help me to understand these ideas better.

1.2. not interesting about the article? Nothing.

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

The article argues that creativity is a social process (continuous exchange of ideas between individual and groups) that can be supported by socio-technical systems. Two important take-away design guidelines are: (1) the motivation for folks to contribute to the common process of social creativity is to construct the pattern of interaction such that individuals feel that they gain more than they contribute and (2) the way to sustain involvement is to ensure that the system enables folks to frame issues as personally relevant (meaningful). The ideas of motivation and social capital is particularly important because it seems, at least to me, that what most of us will spend doing for most of our lives is processing knowledge and ideas; and increasingly, and the issue of motivation is central to new knowledge production.

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!

The Renga Creation systems supports individual creativity by allowing each artist to create art that expresses emotional and intellectual messages. However, the process of creation is a product of distributed cognition. So presumably one artist would contribute an initial work that functions as a seed for the group. Other artists would view the work in progress, reflect and add their interpretation to the work, and the cycle would repeat. This cycles uses the following elements:

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

The whiteboard is a boundary object that I use all the time. It allows me to communicate complex ideas through the use of graphics. It supports communal memory; allows different folks to contribute (often at the same time); individuals can carve out small portions of a big whiteboard for individual reflection, it supports co-creation; it enables a group to arrive at a common understanding (or not); and etc. It is flexbile, can be used for multiple activities, "light-weight" in the sense that it does not require a lot of equipment to use, and most of us have been trained to use a whiteboard as we go through school, and it fits with the process of group work.

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

Personally, generating and sustaining a community of friends and family has been my most creative act. Having a supportive community doesn't happen naturally; it takes effort (often conscious effort). The very simple act of meeting someone and initiating a conversation is an act of co-creation (both parties involved in the conversation collaborate to enable the conversation to take place). Over the course of multiple conversations in multiple context you end sharing ideas, background, humor, and idiosyncrasies to co-create a personally meaningful relationship. Then there are period of conflicts, break-downs, and reconciliations (i.e. space for reflection, SER process model, fish scale model). And the cycle repeats with multiple people and groups. But the reason I keep doing this is that it allows me to create meaning, in multiple contexts. The benefits that I get back from the social network is much more than I put in.

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

E-mail is one application that I use the most to support all aspect of creation in my life. Other systems that I use to a lesser extent include weblogs and swiki. I started looking into social tagging website such as del, ( but have not used it extensively.