Limitations and Origins. Creativity and the feeling of starting from scratch.

IndieWeb, Creativity, Conversation

Bianca Kastl

This type of article is an experiment. Like a blogged mail conversation.

Tom Arnold today declared a thing called Tweetcast - which is kind of a conversation of blogs citing thoughts in other articles and creating a conversation. The conversation is made public on Twitter, so it's a Tweetcast.

Holger Bartel wrote a blog post about the fabulous beyond tellerand I also wrote about , Tom answered, and this is my thought to Holger's answer, which is an answer to Tom's and so on. (Maybe we make fancy visualizations for that one day, but as noted, this is an experiment still).

An interesting thought in Toms article is:

It is not that I, or we, always fall back to trusted solutions, no, but still, I have the feeling that while my work provides solid benefit for my clients, it kind of lacks the truly innovative and surprising moment. Interesting question is, and that's kind of what the conference planted, is it really that I'm not "allowed" the creative freedom in the bread-and-butter jobs or is it that I think that the truly creative ideas would be wasted anyway on these clients?
Tom Arnold in

Holger writes:

In a way, we can all blame frameworks. It’s been a great idea and has allowed many people to create and run websites. To learn and practice. It’s made the web a little more accessible to people who might have never had a chance to build a website otherwise. Yet, those frameworks have allowed their sameness to creep in, default designs to be seen for how websites “should” look like today. Even though frameworks were only meant for prototyping and as a starting point to build upon, they have made their mark in terms of design. With a lack of understanding of the craft and its underlying techniques, it’s difficult to change and modify the defaults, to be creative and unique.
Holger Bartel in

Which brings together thoughts that I had when I created this little website here. I started with almost nothing. A very simple CMS system (the wonderful Kirby) which does more or less nothing except the things you tell it to do.
The first online version of this website was built in about 2 hours - including writing the basic texts for it. But in a quite different approach than in my daily job as a professional webworker. I did not choose any framework at all for the frontend, didn't use fancy JavaScript frameworks or didn't stick to many design trends which seem so evanescent in these days.

Surprisingly this approach worked out quite well. I still like the way that this little website here does basic things. Fast, accessible, without any bloat. Focussed on the things that matter. I wanted a place to express thoughts. This place here perfectly does that. Nothing more needed. Let's call that approach "basics first design".

It's almost the way I created websites 20 years ago. But with experience and a level of wisdom. The wisdom to know that you could use prebuilt things that can do that. But the conscious decision not to use them. (I took that approach so seriously that this article still lacks a nice looking styling for quotes)

And the thing that brings me back to Holger and Tom is: by not falling back on conventions or frameworks I suddenly felt more creative than ever. I kind of feel like my 14 year old me that sticks together a small little web thing. Except the lousy graphics built in Corel Draw in old dark days.

In contrast to 20 years ago the creative potential comes from a different approach: not the lacking knowledge or lacking means to do things on the web with tech from 2019 – it would be easy to use them - but the limits you set for yourself: focusing on what is required, not using things that are known and convenient - it's heavy thinking, but worth it. Other people's solutions are built for their problems. You have to solve your own. And the deep thinking about your problem is an important part of the creative process.

Set yourself limits. Throw away conventions. Build things. And take back your web. Make it your creative playground.