June 6, 2012

The Societal Need For Creativity

I like email. Maybe not all the time, but as a medium, I really like it. Unfortunately sometimes that means I feel free to write at length to people who may have expected no response at all. I often think that those rants might be better suited for blog posts, so my poor friends can choose whether to be subjected to them or not. This blog is derived from last night’s email to my poor friend Willo.

I had written to her previously about my girlfriend’s excitement over painting something beautiful herself. I asked: how do we bring the magic of creation to more people who might benefit from it? I mean it as a larger question for anyone motivated along those lines, which I believe deep down is significantly more people than are experiencing it today. How do we get more people over that first hump of creativity?

I’m hugely confident that the iPad (and all mobile devices) can help. It’s not the be-all-end-all, but things like Paper and Instagram (and heck, even Draw Something to some extent — I met a suburban East Texas housewife Santorum supporter who was more proud of her (rather solid) Draw Something screenshots than anything else we discussed in two full days working together in a county fair box office) are huge steps. By reducing options, and adding some math and computer wizardry behind the scenes, they’ve made it tougher to fuck up photography and drawing. And that is an incredibly powerful step.

People are diverted (sometimes permanently) by failure. Particularly when there’s the risk of public judgement. Instagram especially has inverted that paradigm by adding a like button that has virtually no importance beyond social feedback. It doesn’t affect what other content shows up like it does on Facebook or Pandora. It’s a low-risk way to say “oh, neat” or “good job” without saying “yes, I want more of this please!”

And despite that flying directly in the face of what I believe the next decade or two will completely hold on the content digestion experience side of things (all based on interest graphs built on implicit engagement data, with social as one input), it’s still incredibly powerful. We all love receiving those digital “likes” — they keep us coming back.

And coming back is exactly what more people need to do, to creative pursuits. We can’t have people trying something creative once and never coming back because of fear of fucking up.

We can’t survive as an assembly-line culture anymore, and that means we need more folks willing to take even the slightest creative risks.

I believe in technology’s ability to help empower those risks.


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