We hear of writers who insist on painstakingly crafting their tomes on typewriters or legal notepads. We read about architects who prefer drawing schematics by hand on napkins or large sheets of paper. But most creative professionals-- those involved in journalism, public relations, advertising, and other fine arts careers -- typically can't get away with what are usually viewed as cute eccentricities.
PJ O'Rourke uses an IBM Selectric.
IT professionals are often the resource to which staff writers, artists, and videographers turn for recommendations about using today's tools to free their muses. In the cutthroat worlds of Madison Avenue, Hollywood, public relations, and other venues, creative workers are tasked to do more faster with less -- and to work as part of a collaborative unit. In other words, they're facing the same challenges as employees in the accounting, manufacturing, research and development, sales, and IT sectors. Their primary job, though, is to be creative, whether it's for an internal department or an external client.
In one recent survey conducted for a Holmes Report, 71 percent of respondents said "great storytelling" was one of the factors in making a great public relations campaign. Sixty-three percent cited "audience insight," and 52 percent cited "content creation."
Gathering information to get that insight falls squarely within the bounds of analytics and big-data. It's imperative that writers and artists working on a campaign have access to this information in order to target their message to the appropriate audience. Since so many creative employees work remotely (at least part-time), it's also vital for IT to ensure these analytics solutions are available via mobile devices.
Unlike the solitary writer -- destitute in a shuttered hotel, perhaps with a bottle of Scotch positioned handily next to the typewriter -- corporate scribes tend to work collaboratively. In addition to fellow writers, those collaborators could include artists, photographers, videographers, design personnel, clients (both internal and external), and legal counselors. That's why it's so important that any system enables sharing, tracking, and clear documentation about who made changes when. I've seen arguments break out over the placement of a comma. Really.
Now, technology wasn't mentioned as a solution for becoming more creative in the Holmes Report. Nevertheless, by liberating staff from mundane tasks, focusing employees on the target audience, and giving them the tools they need to collaborate and create, you free up their imaginations. It could be that technology isn't really a creative tool in the traditional sense; it's not like brainstorming, word association, or SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats). Or perhaps those surveyed for the Holmes Report hadn't worked closely with their IT teams. But a majority of the respondents did cite improved use of insight -- something IT can clearly enable.
Of course, social media have changed the publishing world, and many organizations want to trace a writer's success on the Internet. From likes and tweets to pins and views, there are many ways to measure a creator's success -- and many organizations rank, rate, and review employees based (at least in part) on the online performance of their works. IT, in conjunction with department managers and human resources, can play a critical role in designing the solutions that will monitor their colleagues.
You may find creative staff members approaching you for help in doing their jobs -- a mobile app, added capabilities for a website, access to audience insight, or even a video editing class. Just as IT professionals often are encouraged to unleash their creative energies, providing artists and writers with new technical tools gives them more time and energy to create.
I love fiction, and I'm hoping ebooks will bring back the short story.
I subscribed to several science fiction magazines in the 70s, unaware at that time that I was participating in the dying days of short fiction as a mainstream entertainment.
Regarding the two-way nature of the Internet: A friend who is a novelist says the rise of the Internet means he gets a lot more interaction with readers. People will send an email to the author much more readily than they would pick up pen and paper to write, back when that was the only way to communicate.
I once heard an interview with a publishing industry executive. He said that of all the books purchased, only 10% of their owners ever read them. And of that group, only 10% only make it past the first chapter!
I don't have a link to back it up, but based on personal experience and knowing how other readers behave, it sounds true. So only 1% ever read the whole book all the way through. What that means is Jobs is somewhat correct and you are also correct. We do buy books, but we don't read them! I think e-books accelerate this process because now instead of taking a two hour journey to drive to the bookstore and browse and select all the shiny new books about how we're going write the perfect resume or learn a new language in 10 days or that shows the beautiful designs of WWI biplanes...we now can sit at the computer and happily press buttons for these things...knowing full well that like the treadmill we bought, it will sit unused in the corner!
Dickens was a popular writer of serialized novels. In his day, writers were like TV broadcasters. He would write the equivalent of an episdoe, or chapter, and it would be sent out and delivered like a newspaper. That is why his novels are so long and discursive. They were written piecemeal, with characters taking on various subplots...really to fill the format! Only later did writers sit down and produce complete tomes. And event still, the completely delivered novel often reverted back into the novella or shorter format, so long as it was good enough (Salinger, et. al.). The short story became the modern microwave dinner version of the long novel...good for strap hangers. But yes, that was all before Tee-Vee.
Books, or rather literacy, was central to the cultural discussion in Dickens day. That was Marshall McLuhan's central thesis. That the medium, tv, was converting us from a literate, and rational, society to a post-literal, tribal society, buy the nature of the senses it used to communicate. Mark Steyn in After America makes the humorous comparison of the letter from a 19th century East End harlot to a memo from the Mayor of Detriot in the present day. Guess who is the better belletrist?
However, I contend that the real change with computer mediated communication, which is not restricted to text, or visual information anymore, is the interactive, two way nature. This is something even McLuhan did not address. He concentrated on channels, but his view, even of computers as data retrieval mechanisms, was that of broadcasting. A single node sending information out to consumers.
The chief change is that in the Facebook world, we are both consumers and producers of information. Yes, there are still TV Shows and Books, but compared to the active volume of text, videos, audios put out by you and I and the 1 billion other users each any everyday, telling the stories of our lives, or the lives of those in our homes and all around us, is overwhelming the broadcast media. So much so that these old media become irrelevent at the point that they cannot be commented upon, Tweeted about, meme-ified and stuck on a T-shirt.
jabailo - Jobs was employing hyperbole when he said nobody reads anymore. First of all, he clearly meant nobody reads books anymore. That was the context of his comment -- someone asked him if Apple was going to come out iwth an ebook reader.
Of course people do read books -- millions do.
And yet books are no longer central to the cultural discussion. Even movies aren't anymore. If you want to tell a story that everybody's going to talk about, you tell it on TV. Think The Sopranos or The Wire.
Back in Dickens' day, books were central to the cultural discussion. When Dickens visited the US, he was mobbed by fans. Recall there was no TV, movies, radio, or even mass-produced newspaper or magazine photos. The only way you were going to see what Dickens looked like or hear him in person was to go see him there.
And that's one of the reasons books were central to the cultural discussion until the past few decades. It wasn't the writing and printing technology -- it was the lack of other technological distractions.
I share your view, Alison. Creativity occurs best as a result of our thinking, not as a goal itself. We seem better able to unleash the creative juices in relaxed, unplanned, and different settings.
I believe ideas popping into our head are extremely valuable, and should be captured via voice mail, etc. That's how song writers write new songs.
Your view on the larger development of creativity in technology is a very valuable topic for further development. I think this is why Disney has employees "playing" during the day with ping pong, etc., and why Google has a different environment to foster research and development and creativity.
Exactly, tools are not part of the creative process; they just extend the deliverables.
I think we have a lot of learning to do yet to support, enhancing, and capitalizing on creativity and problem solving. Then, as you point out, creating the right incentives to not stifle creativity, and encourage its development.
Well, Evernote is a great solution... instead of your voicemail you can use that app. I also like an app by Columbia called GPS Pal which allows you to take pictures, notes or video and it would map it, creating a trip-like journal.
How can the IT-Creative people conversation improve? How can you find out of apps that can help? Its normally one techy creative who finds out of an app. But can we have a real IT investigation of new apps? Is that even possible? To find the solution withouth knowing the problem.
@Alison better than scribbling notes on a matchbook. My husband had a professor who used to do that, and he would actually take them out during class. Of course, that only works for smokers who don't use lighters.
I get a lot of my best ideas in the car, walking, or emptying the dishwasher--any time I'm NOT focusing on figuring out that difficult lede, reluctant hed, or recalticant segue. One of my favorite technologies to help with this is voicemail, a tool I otherwise loathe. I can't count the number of times I've called myself and left a message with that lede, hed, or segue!
Sure, but think of academia. Their entire job is not only solving problems...but thinking up problems or questions that no one ever thought up before.
So one way to create jobs is to make a game that requires players. Obviously Windows is such a game or "ecosystem". But maybe Google and Apple are games as well and we in IT get paid to play.
The problem comes when the game gets so complicated that those on the outside start to say, what the heck is going on! This was the situation at GM in the 1970s. Because it was so dominiant in the global auto industry it began to make decisions based on its own internal needs. Salaries grew. Features became arcane. Cars turned into cabin cruisers.
Then the Honda Civic appears. Pop!
So, yes, an industrial ecosystem provides jobs by letting people take ownership of processes. The Security, the Database, the Web UI, the Network. This is how a middle class is built...through professional practices. And it's sometimes a really good thing to have all these people providing infinite customization all the way throught he project. But at the same time we must be ever wary to not become so insular and arcane to the outsider that it all topples over!!
My dad used to say the opposite. A poor worker blames his tools, John Anthony!
Did you see Paul McCartney on the #121212Concert? Could Helter Skelter and his other songs have been any better...even though they were recorded on state of the art 4-track machines?
Brings up a gripe of mine...classic albums designed with seques where one song flows into another. That was possible because of the continuous groove of the LP record.
But what happens when you slice up Sgt. Pepper into a bunch of "tunes"...that's right, suddenly Good Morning stops dead before the Reprise starts. And don't even bother with side two of Abbey Road, it will give you a headache...unless you were born after 1990!
But what happens is that art makes the medium. It doesn't matter if someone creates something great on something that no one is using yet...because people will go out and buy it. The way that Halo sold the XBox and Mario Brothers the Nintendo and the Great Train Robbery made cinema.
Content and art promulgates the technology. There has to be a reason. Everything that follows then simply fills the channel...that is the Medium is the Message meme. But before the medium exists, there has to be something special to make people buy a cathode ray TV, or an mp3 player.
So maybe if Dickens had a word processor he would have written more. But perhaps his access to the machinery of creation -- the printing press and serial distribution system of his time -- were part of his fame. Think of old 1950s TV stars. They often shot to fame just because they were on TV...and ended up not being able to continue their fame based on talent alone!
So maybe now there are hundreds...thousands...millions of Dickenses writing billions of words in a realistic novel style (what became the New Journalism of Wolfe and Mailer) and we simply read them in blogs, comments and tweets everyday.
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