Creativity – the gift that keeps on giving

I remember watching Gardner Campbell’s interview with Ted Nelson (YT). Along with a related interview with Alan Kay (YT), it made quite an impression on me. Even the edited, half-hour version (YT) is packed with information and insights. I started to take a few notes, but really couldn’t keep up with what he had to say, what I needed to look up, and what it inspired in me. So I will be coming back to it eventually.

The early part (YT), discussing his ideas on General Wrongfulness stood out to me. Our system of education “greatly reduces the human potential and the human spirit,” he says. This doesn’t exactly speak well of my chosen profession, although I like to think that as a librarian, I’m in a liberating sector of higher ed. But Nelson has a vision of open education, one shared by others at the time and worth remembering today, that involves making students empowered rather than compliant, by “mak[ing] the process and products of education more transparent, understandable, and available to all the people involved.” I think that this empowerment is what we are trying to do when we promote information literacy – to help people learn how to learn, to engage in informed learning.

Is your motivation to get a degree and a dumb job? Or is your motivation to be a learned person? (YT)

It’s that matter of motivation – bringing the students’ motivations into the system, and letting them guide and drive the learning activities -none of which is easy to do within the systems that we have.

That other thing I loved about it was Nelson’s Nothing magazine. There is a freedom in the simple technology – trailing edge technology – because it is not encumbered by complexity, because it is so physically manipulable. Perhaps we forget that sometimes.

I’m fascinated by handmade magazines anyway, because we had a pile of them in my house when I was growing up. My father made these things when he was ten years old or so, and somehow managed to hold on to them. I digitized them and used them as an excuse to play with Omeka. They may be child-like, but there is a sophistication in the humor they contain and in the commitment they represent. Maybe that’s why they were preserved for so long. I think they’re valuable anyway, as products of creativity, and I can try to make something out of them. Creativity – the gift that keeps on giving. That’s also one of the points of DoOO, in that it lets students document what they make and preserve their creations. The record makes learning and creativity persistent, so we can still learn from and build upon ideas from decades past.

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