Research theme #1: Platforms for creativity

This is part of a series of blog posts outlining my seven-year plan of work as Canada Research Chair in the Faculty of Communication and Design, Ryerson University. (You may want to start with the introduction).

The first of my three themes, ‘Platforms for creativity’, is concerned with the ways in which individual and group creativity can be developed and supported. This work will be organised across three strands:

#1.1: Designing Platforms for Creativity:

This strand explores the ideal design of ‘platforms’ – which may be events, tools, online or offline environments, or hybrids of the two, which enable individuals and groups to effectively self-organise and maximise their creativity. Note that these platforms can be valuable and innovative as both products and tools for the creative industries.

The research questions are:

→ What are the key features of an effective platform for creativity?

→ How can platforms best support convivial conversation, peer support and mutual inspiration, to encourage the unlocking of creative practices which otherwise would not have appeared? How can potential participants’ initial feelings of reluctance be overcome?

→ How can platforms for creativity reach across – or break down – gender, class, disability and ethnic divides so that participation in such platforms is broad and diverse?

#1.2: Maker cultures:

The entrepreneurial and DIY spirit of the maker movement is vital and exciting, but we need to work on ways in which it can appeal better to girls and young women, and people of all backgrounds, through different types of presentation, challenge, platform, and role models.

The research questions are:

→ What would be the primary characteristics of more inclusive maker environments and communities?

→ What are the processes by which one person inspires another, creatively, and how can this process be supported? Do visibly successful role models make a difference?

→ What alternatives to today’s mainstream ‘maker movement’ can encourage the same levels of self-initiated creativity but in different forms?

#1.3: Designing digital futures:

Inventing new ways to bridge the physical and the digital worlds, to get the best from the huge potential of online experiences without losing touch, hands-on thinking, and construction. This is a long-standing question often addressed by technologists, but by bringing insights from open design, performance, and play – each of them huge existing areas – we may be able to develop new innovations.

This work will also explore innovative and imaginative creative processes that connect the physical and digital in diverse fields. By examining practices across many different areas we can find new ways to generate ideas, implement them, and inspire others.

The research questions are:

→ How can we integrate the affordances of digital media and physical productive activity to generate meaningful and supportive ways of working and collaborating on creative projects?

→ By drawing on diverse areas of creative practice, can we produce new ideas and guidelines which will be useful for creative individuals, businesses and organisations?

→ Can these insights be implemented in public learning spaces such as libraries and museums?

This theme connects with several initiatives at Ryerson’s Faculty of Communication and Design (FCAD), including the FCAD Design Network, the Centre for Fashion Diversity & Social Change, Infoscape Research Lab, Media Innovation Research Lab, and the Synaesthetic Media Lab, and several courses including MA/PhD Communication and Culture, MA Fashion, and MA Media Production.

See also:
— CRC research overview;
— theme (2) Creative identities and leadership;
— theme (3) Public understanding of creative practice.

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