Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Creativity Nouvelle

Lately, I've noticed people discussing how the internet is changing art, especially in terms of the loss of spontaneity (check out Ben Malbon, Kevin Rothermel, and Ana Andjelic have been writing).

Another way that I've seen art changing is more in terms of the evolution of creativity. Thanks to the ease of involvement, more people are expressing their creativity through social media.

One of the main usages cited for social media is people’s desire for self expression.

While content creators are a small but powerful selection of users, a larger group is expressing themselves in new ways through social media. Examples include editing MySpace and Twitter design, filling out Facebook’s 25 Questions meme, contributing to open source projects, customizing products online, Tumblr blogs, and creating fashion collages on Polyvore.

By allowing anyone to easily modify, publish, and spread their own unique additions, social media allows everyday people who would not normally produce their own work a creative outlet for self-expression. Social media eliminates factors limiting this group offline, such as lack of confidence, inspiration, or time.

Reasons driving the surge of creativity through social media include:
  • Existing creative framework. People don’t need to invent and produce entirely new ideas, they simply tweak what already exists. This saves them the effort of creating a new idea and the time of actually developing that new idea.
  • Low involvement of entry. Most sites that encourage creativity are free and, because of the existing creative framework, require less time than individual endeavors.
  • Anonymity. By concealing their identity, some people feel more comfortable about sharing their creative ventures.
  • Encouragement from the community. Positive reviews motivate people to continue their efforts.
  • Potential popularity. Acceptance is still a driving factor for human action, and social media facilitates the hunt for popularity.
And takeaways, esp. for brands:
  • The ratio of effort vs. output is a driving factor for the evolution of creativity online
  • Allowing websites or applications to be uniquely modifiable engages consumers
  • Creative expression is a non-tangible benefit to give to consumers
  • When attempting to generate UGC for themselves, brands should guide users with parameters to encourage widespread participation

Friday, April 24, 2009

Idea: Amazon Book Search by Book Cover Image

Ever tried to recall the name of a book, but absolutely can't do it? The best you can think of is "well, the book was red...and the name was really big and gold"? The problem is actually not that rare.

My solution to this? Amazon Book Search by Book Cover Image

Here's how it works: you start to doodle a rough version on the book, and Amazon returns with all the book covers that mildly resemble your sketch.

Something similar was created for Flickr in 2006 called Retrievr. Check it out:


Amazon has a bajillion book cover images in its system thanks to the ability for customers to add their own covers in addition to its own collection. In fact, Amazon's constantly innovative search and referral methods has influenced their overwhelming success.

If Retrivr could do it in 2006, Amazon can do it now. And perhaps better, especially as image search technology improves (as evidenced by Google's new project called Similar Image Search, which is super rad).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Scanning Old Notes: The Best Grammar Guide Ever by The Best Man Ever

Although others (98% of the COM class of 2009 and a certain newspaper) may disagree, (ex) Dean Schultz was the best football-playing-fighter-pilot-rhyming-poet-sort-of-Oxford-graduate man to grace Morse auditorium before resigning after an investigation by the Boston Globe.

As traumatic as COM 101 was (like the time where three quarters of the class received a failing grade on an assignment judged by the PDDT standards), e-D Schultz's legacy lives on through Please Don't Do That, the writing guide given to us on the first day of class at Boston University. The guide, to me at least, has actually be helpful to me over the past few years and I'd like to share it.

Side note: Does anyone remember the time when the economics lecturer mentioned bagel sales and then, through his own clever magic, had someone purchase him a bagel so he could reference it in his traditional post-lecture summary poem? Awe-inspiring.

Individual pages here:
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