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Is Creativity the Ultimate Price of Efficiency?

05 Aug 2009

The Fear of Optimizing Away Art

How far can we alter our daily lives until we optimize out any chance at doing something creative? Developing our creative potential takes time, and efficiency might demand we avoid spending our efforts in a direction that isn't directly fruitful or actionable. Our schedules should always include a portion of the day that is "free time". This invaluable block of time allows not only for our batteries to recharge, but for careful thought about the intricacies of our daily decisions and experiences. As our minds are free to wander we often come across novel combinations or applications of existing tools. Unregimented time is the mother of innovation, and it's unlikely that we can force creativity.

Ease of Use Equates to More Creativity

On the opposite side of the equation, if tasks require almost no time or energy we are more likely to dabble in them, or spend time using them in a way that suits us. It is by this light interest that we can begin to develop creativity within specific areas. A simple example is the advance of technology with the addition of video cameras to smart phones. Many more people are leveraging the media power of video in attempts to document their activities, interests, and thoughts.

Because our schedules aren't dominated by marvelously efficient technologies, we are able to become much more creative in their application. Social media is a tool that many would argue is wasteful of our attention. But the simple broadcast and directed communications allow for connections between people around the globe, who may never have made the time or known how to interact otherwise. The barrier to communication with thousands of people at once has been lowered, and with it we experience the creativity of millions of mind simultaneously.

My early experiences with BASIC on a TI99 progressed to pascal and C coding on 8088s and their descendants in high school and college. As technology has increased in complexity and connectivity, the array of programming languages and platforms to build upon has grown in breadth and depth. It is my hope that even though there is a tech trend to greater complexity, the barrier to software development will become even lower. This will open the doors to development for folks of all backgrounds and educational levels, to create their own customized software tools. It is each of our unique perspectives that gives us the ability to create solutions in novel ways.

We can all benefit from the ingenuity of just one person.