Creativity support tools

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Citation: Ben Shneiderman (2002) Creativity support tools. Communications of the ACM, Volume 45, Issue 10 (RSS)
DOI (original publisher): 10.1145/570907.570945
Semantic Scholar (metadata): 10.1145/570907.570945
Sci-Hub (fulltext): 10.1145/570907.570945
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): Creativity support tools
Tagged: Computer Science (RSS) HCI (RSS), creativity (RSS), CSCW (RSS)


Building on Csikszentmihalyi's work on creativity, Schneiderman treats creativity as an inherently social concept and presents a very general framework about how it might be supported. He argues that a framework to support creativity should first break down the process into a set of component process. Scheiderman suggests that creativity can be thought of including the processes of:

  • Collecting data from a variety of places.
  • Relating with others through communication and consulting.
  • Creation through exploration and evaluation of multiple solutions.
  • Donation through publishing or sharing the creative product.

Schneiderman then breaks these down into 8 tasks that he argues technology can use to support creativity (included verbatim):

  1. Searching and browsing digital libraries, the Web, and other resources
  2. Visualizing data and processes to understand and discover relationships
  3. Consulting with peers and mentors for intellectual and emotional support
  4. Thinking by free associations to make new combinations of ideas
  5. Exploring solutions—What-if tools and simulation models
  6. Composing artifacts and performances step-by-step
  7. Reviewing and replaying session histories to support reflection
  8. Disseminating results to gain recognition and add to the searchable resources

Schneiderman does not go into the details of how technology might best support each of these although he suggests that great creative platforms will bring these together into a single platform. He gives little in the way of prespriptive advice and does not even offer concrete examples of tools that might be good examples of the type of creativity support he imagines. His contribution is a framework for thinking about these tools.

Ben Scheiderman is one of the founders of human computer interaction.

Theoretical and Practical Relevance

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