I feel one of the classic examples of a combination of computing & creativity is Pinterest. For the uninitiated, Pinterest is a virtual pinboard that allows you to organize and share interesting things that you come across on the web. The idea is simple, but brilliant. You are surfing the web and you come across something that you find interesting, and instead of adding the link to your bookmarks, you add it to your virtual pinboard. Doing so allows you to naturally share the link with your “followers” on pinterest as well as browse through all the links you have pinned at your leisure. People have been using Pinterest to even plan their wedding and decorate their homes. Definitely check it out!
So what is creativity? Usually, one would define creativity as creating something new and different. However, that might not always be the case. You could also define creativity as doing things differently from what is considered convention. In the midst of difficultly, try to do things differently or in other words be creative. Sometimes doing the same thing over and over again can drive you insane (though not in the literal sense!). So do something differently once, be creative and see the refreshing change!
Be Creative, Keep Sane!
During the poster presentation today, I listened to one of my classmates give a literature review on social creativity. He commented that there hasn’t been much work in the area, and tried to tie together the few frameworks that have been proposed. It was clear from his talk why this area has little published work: social creativity is really difficult to instigate or measure. Creativity means vastly different things to different people, so it’s difficult to find a solution that can harness each persons’ unique abilities.
One take at computer-supported social creativity is the remixing of video games and animations. Andres Monroy-Hernandez started the Scratch project, a system that helps kids make simple (and sometimes complex) games and animations. Andres gave a talk at the Berkman Center discussing his project and its overwhelming success. You can download Scratch for free if you want to check it out: http://scratch.mit.edu/. What I find most interesting about Andres’ talk is his emphasis upon understanding existing user populations and their actions and motivations. He talks about Creative Commons rules that govern the creation of content, for example. Only once he understood existing systems and his target user base did he begin to build the system.
Link to Andres’ video at the Berkman Center: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/events/luncheon/2012/01/monroy-hernandez
Another system is Pipeline, was developed by PhD candidate Kurt Luther here at Georgia Tech. We used this application during our collaboration making the recycling fashion show. All group members signed up for the system, and several group members left comments in the system early on. Once the actual work started, however, Pipeline was abandoned. This doesn’t mean Pipeline is a bad system. It just wasn’t right for this group for this project. Our group members divided into several groups. Each group met in person to complete a portion of the project. Since we weren’t collaborating over the web, Pipeline was not designed to help us.
I’m an HCI student. I’m constantly being told by professors and other students that it’s important to consider the user when designing a system. I think that this is just another example of how important this mantra is. When applied to creativity, I think the takeaway is that it is just as important to consider place as purpose. We were collaborating on a project that Pipeline could have facilitated, but because we did not collaborate via the web, Pipeline was not useful. Maybe a future project could help facilitate interaction and compilation of separate pieces of a project that were created by in-person groups.
Where does the real world end and the digital world begin? The divide seems to be shrinking. Consider the following video:
Hatsune Miku is a totally synthetic pop star in Japan. Her appearance is obviously fake, but it’s interesting to note that the sounds she makes are all generated grammatically then tuned for pitch. Using simple lighting tricks, it appears as those this computer-generated personality exists in the real world. When someone becomes a ‘fan’ of a virtual character, are they a fan of the multitude of people necessary to create this personality, or are they a fan of the digital Hatsune herself?
At Coachella Music Festival this year, this process was improved upon again. Tupac is dead recording artist whose label has been releasing his tracks long after his death. He was once again brought to life using this same technique, but with actual video footage and his real voice instead of a synthetically generated character. I won’t link to the video here because of the explicit nature of his lyrics, but you can find it on YouTube. It’s almost disturbingly realistic.
In these two examples, the mixed reality experience can only be viewed from afar and at certain angles. But it seems like only a matter of time until these holograms can move among us. I don’t think that we will be mistaking them for people any time soon, but it does beg the question: how do we decide what is “real?” Can digital artifacts have fans? Is Tupac really dead?