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When architects want to be "creative", they sit in front of a sheet of paper, not in front of AutoCAD. When people at Pixar Animations create new characters for their newest movie, they draw these on a sheet of paper. When a director or cinematographer thinks of how to shoot a scene in this movie, she draws a sketch on paper. When a musician thinks of a new song, she sits at her (electric) piano. A lot of programmers draw UML or other diagramms for programs on paper. UI designer draw UI prototypes on paper. Why is it that the much more powerful medium "computer" plays almost no role in these (early) creative stages?

I'm proposing a thesis analyzing the way people rely on media to create their thoughts. Influenced by linguistic, semiotic, and media-scientific ideas ranging from the Saphir-Whorf theorem to McLuhan's "The Medium is the Message", I aim to get a better understanding of not only how people understand messages based on their medium, but also on how the available media shape their ideas. How does the medium limit the possible creative thoughts, how does it influence the direction of the thoughts?

A lot of the "computer world" is structured in and around text, mostly because it is the medium that is the easiest to compute, to store, and to "interpret". Wikis, e.g. the one that this text is written it, are almost solely based on text. They allow to include images, but one cannot search for them, create them in the wiki, or edit them. They are static objects in the dynamic wiki environment. How does this influence the way people use the wiki, what content they create, what topics they discuss?

To analyze this complex, possible approaches could include a comparison of topics and discussions styles in internet platforms formed around different media. How do content and form of discussions differ between flickr, youtube, wikipedia, mapmyrun, and mindmeister? As a next step, a wiki should be created that allows to not only include, but also create and edit objects of different media types. In addition, the questions phrased in the first paragraph seem to hint toward an "effort"-problem. All the activities described CAN be done on computers, so the reason that people don't use them seems to be not in the WHAT but in the HOW of the medium.

Last modified 10 December 2007 at 9:03 pm by hodie