Monday, 10 March 2008

"On creativity"

It's written for designers, but I think it's also extremely relevant to geeks.

Plus, it's a useful article to help me explain to friends why I love what I do - it's a chance to solve interesting problems and to try and do something better every day in a particular environment (they get the bit about working with fantastic content and people straight away).

It also presents a good argument for 'constraints' such as accessibility and standards.

A List Apart, On Creativity:
Creativity is technical and analytical, not expressive (as in self-expression). It is a filter through which perception and output pass, not a receptor or an infusion (as in the case of inspiration). Creativity may require or be enhanced by inspiration, but the two are distinct forces. (These facts are vital in discriminating between appropriate and inappropriate descriptions and applications of creativity.)

Creativity is an inborn capacity for thinking differently than most, seeing differently, and making connections and perceiving relationships others miss. But most importantly, it is the ability to then extrapolate contextually useful ways of employing that data: to create something that meets a specific challenge. By this definition, creativity is merely a tool; it does not convey skill. For a dedicated few, though, this inborn capacity is then further augmented by certain disciplines, including:
  • ongoing curiosity,
  • the desire and habit of looking more deeply into things than others care to,
  • the habit of comparing stimulus with result, and
  • a habit for qualitative discrimination.


If you are a designer worth your salt, you know that no design project begins with creativity. Instead, it begins with client- and/or context-specific discovery, and lots of research to help you understand the fundamental nature of the challenges at hand. All designers must guard against the urge to invest in specific creative ideas before becoming intimately familiar with the contextual landscape of a design project.

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