Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Felix Salmon has a post on creativity that got me thinking about comparisons. After all, in 1966 (when the test that he discusses was developed), it was a lot harder to get access to first rate creative materials. In that sense, "do it yourself" made a lot of sense and might have encouraged creativity.

You can see this as technology progresses. Consider live music and plays over time. In 1890, if you wanted to hear music or see a story acted out in your home town then you needed to get a local musician to play or go to a local community theater. In 2010 you downloaded the music to your iPod or a top film to your television set.

You see this phenomenon with lots of things. When my dad did weight lifting in the 1960's, the best you could do was a book on the topic. People competed to invent new techniques (and likely had a lot of injuries as a result). Today, I can find massive amounts of information on the topic sitting at home. In the 1970's, Gary Gygax and company could create a new type of game (role-playing games) as an extension of war gaming. Today the ability to create a new game is much harder given the development costs.

So is the lack of creativity a symptom of a richer environment where finding rhea optimal solution is better than creating a new (and likely sub-optimal one)?

I am not saying that this is the case and Felix Salmon brings up a lot of other good points. But it's another reason to wonder about what the implications of these claims would be, even if they were to prove to be correct.

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