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Does Technology Restrict Creativity?

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Technology cuts both ways
DavidR   1/21/2014 5:26:10 PM
In an interview some years ago, a student asked author Elmore Leonard what tools he wrote with when he started out in the 1950's and with all the changes in technology what he writes with currently. His response; " When I started writing I used a yellow legal pad and a 5 cent Scripto pen. Now I use a yellow legal pad and a $150 Mont Blanc."

Business word processors, like Word may not be conducive to creative writing, but a little program I found called Writer's Blocks works nicely for me. It is an electronic version of the 3x5" note card that just lets you write in a blank card space without restriction, spelling or grammar nags. Then organize the cards as you see fit. Very conducive to jotting down ideas as they come when using a PC.

I started out shooting 16mm film for TV many years ago. Moving to inferior cameras and video formats as the technology developed was quite frustrating over the years, and the expense of heavy iron post production suites limited access to creative visuals to those with hefty budgets.

Now a sub $100 program on a decent desktop workstation, or even my laptop, gives access to visual creative  power that a half million dollar online suite could not equal in 1980.

With the emerging generation of modestly priced raw digital cinema cameras, we have come full circle to a digital negative format that is finally surpassing the flexibility and visual quality of film in most meaningful ways, much less conventional video formats.

Personally I'm feeling very liberated by all this in a creative artistic sense.  But pen and paper are still technologically superior for unrestricted access, simplicity, and permanence.


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Re: Books Versus Tablets
bobjengr   1/21/2014 5:46:14 PM
Hello Nancy--I certainly agree with you but I fear the "tide of reality" is against us.  A fascinating article "appeared" in our local paper two weeks ago indicating the local school board is considering e-textbooks for the very near future.  The reason given was the ability to update the books on an annual basis so they remain current relative to subject matter.  It apparently was a robust debate that ended with the board feeling the idea had real merit.  The overriding issue was cost, repairs and lost tablets. i.e. readers.  The student would have the option of buying their tablets, with text loaded, when they graduated.  Believe it or not, I opted to purchase most of my textbooks used my junior and senior years in high school.  Chemistry, all of my math and trig books, physics, etc., I still have and refer to.  Times are changing but I still like the feel of a conventional book. 

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bobjengr   1/21/2014 5:57:20 PM
Excellent post Alex.  I think creativity must come first then the technology to document and display that creativity.  I know people who design using AutoCAD and Solid Works and they do a great job, but for the most part, pencil and paper start the process even if it's with a "back of the napkin".   Technology should support creativity rather than restrict creativity.  Thousands of hours are saved during the design process using technological methodology but the "up-front" effort requiring creativity must be the genesis.

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Computers allow creativity
BrainiacV   1/22/2014 11:55:22 AM
In high school my math teachers would yell at me that I wasn't opening the text book and staring at formulas enough.  Instead I was running down to the computer room and putting the formulas to work.

While not a scientific study, the students that I know who stared at the textbooks aren't doing much math nowadays.  Whereas I use it all the time and although I may not be versed in some forms that I possibly should be, I have no fear of learning new math to be applied in my programs.

My stock phrase is, "I'm not a mathematician, but I use math."

An old science fiction story had a profound effect on me and I wsh I could remember its name, but the story was about a group of spacemen who land on a planet and find inhabitants surrounded by fantastic technical hardware that is rotting away. When asked, the inhabitants could not remember how to fix them, let alone remember what they were used for. The spacemen vow to stay and help the inhabitants recover their lost capabilities, but then the inhabitants display a level of technology far beyond the spacemen's understanding.  Stunned, one spaceman finally figures out how they misread the situation.  He started asking the other spacemen if they knew how to make bows and arrows, or make a fire without a lighter. The point being, that as you move forward, you don't have to remember everything that got you to that point.

So I may not be able to mix paints like Leonardo, but I'm able to make "paintings" without being hobbled not knowing what minerals I have to mix to get different colors.

So I am free to create without having to worry about how to make paints.

Or to use another example, I no longer have to be a mechanic to drive a car.


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RaymondBeasleyy   1/27/2014 6:06:57 AM
Thanks for giving intellectual insight to us with your thoughts and unending resources. Will be nice for me to see you here in continue interconnected dialogue.

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