Creativity in a Touch-Screen World

The first time Delilah crawled it was to get my iPhone. No joke. Even before that she seemed interested so we would let her play with certain apps, taking video of herself, creating drawings, creating sounds etc.

A few days ago I was sitting at my computer doing something with our Taxes when Rachel brought her in for me to watch for a few minutes. As I set her on my lap she immediately reached for the keyboard. Not to ever stifle creativity, I tossed up Notepad and let her at it. She struggled for a few minutes and tapped a few keys and eventually ended up with this:

1 ` 1Q IYXZJG  nm hnmws SDEWQIOJHI9

Not spectacular by any stretch of the imagination.  But what got me was that a few years ago this would have been her limit.  Keyboard and mouse interactivity is something that takes a while to develop and at 6-9months she just wouldn’t have the skills to do manipulate our archaic input devices.

Not so, any more.  The following works were all created by Delilah on my iPad in the Kid Paint app:

Artistic masterpieces? No.

Impressive for a 6-9mo old? Hell yes
(Note: some help from me to pick colors and utensils and to restart the app when she accidentally closed it, but that’s it.)

Additionally, she’s composed some music using Beatwave: Beatwave Music Composition

If you don’t have it,
Get Beatwave on iTunes (FREE!)

Would any of this have been possible 5 years ago? Maybe, if you had a million dollars worth of touch screen equipment. She did this with a $500 1.5lb device. I think the age of the Dynabook has arrived.

Man the future is gonna be crazy. I can’t wait till she’s teaching me this stuff.

Do something with it

Information in itself is of no value. It is like a blueprint. The blueprint of a building is worthless; only the building has value and significance. The blueprint may be destroyed with impunity, for another can easily be made, but a building cannot be destroyed without careful deliberation. ~ Garrett Hardin

The Internet is filled with producers and consumers of Information. It is estimated that a person is bombarded today with more information in a single day than a person in the 19th century would have come across their entire lifetime.

Does The amount of information we’re being given benefit us?

Some of us maybe. Most of us? probably not. Information is only as useful as its implementation. You can read all day about Quantum Mechanics or Molecular Biology or even Modern Fashion. You can even become the worlds greatest expert on the Nile without ever stepping a foot in Egypt. How useful is all that information? Will you ever build a Quantum Computer? Will you ever make a startling discover for the Human GNOME project?

Produce Something (not just more information)

Take the information you absorb and do something with it. Telling others is not enough. Society only moves forward due to innovation and creativity of the masses. If people only share what they hear from others then all we have is a giant information chain letter.

  • You remember 10% of what you read
  • You remember 20% of what you hear
  • You remember 30% of what you see
  • You remember 50% of what you hear and see together
  • You remember 70% of what you say
  • You remember 90% of what you do

By doing something with the information you’ve gathered, you not only aide your memory but you also run the risk of creating something new and unique.

Produce Substance

If all you’re producing is information then what value is it adding? The information needs to yield some results otherwise you’re just creating information that was created from information which will create more information and we’re in an endless cycle.

With all the information out there its bound to give you some ideas. Do one of them. Don’t just say you’re going to, follow through. You’ll be amazed at the sense of accomplishment it gives you when you can look at something and say “yep, that was me.” While you’re at it document your efforts and share them. This doubles your efforts as you’re not only producing the end result, but also the information on the process for someone else to duplicate and add to. Before you know it you’ve collaborated and built the first home brew Quantum Computer.

Now, stop reading this and go out there and do something with it!

Strike a Balance

There’s lots of different definitions of Web 2.0 but the common consensus is that it’s about user generated content and social networking. Ask anyone about Web 1.0 and they’ll all tell you the same thing, it was strictly about consumption. It was the advent of the information age.

In this world it’s hard to strike a balance. When do you stop consuming and start producing? when do you stop producing and start consuming? You need to strike a balance. To often I find myself reading a ton but not making use of it. There are just too many wonderful new sites out there and not enough time to look at them all.

There is certainly a point at which the marginal rate of return for content consumption begins to shrink. The rate of return for production begins to reduce as well, but at a much faster rate. To truly add any value or knowledge you need to first know what is out there and secondly know what people are interested in. To do this you need to be reading (or consuming). The amount of appropriate production is directly related to your knowledge or experiences. Therefor unless you’ve experienced everything and know everything you have more to gain from consuming than you do from producing.