By January 30, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

Constraint-based creativity

I was about five episodes in with my Electric Sky Podcast when I realized the charm of podcasting wouldn’t be realized by having no limits. That’s counterintuitive if you think about it; podcasting became popular because its lack of restrictions drew out our inner-anarchists.

Creativity can’t thrive in infinite freedom. It needs limits — money, time to create, parameters of the final product… — to inspire creative solutions. Why else would there be challenges to tell stories in six words, craft haikus, compose melodies with only three notes, reveal an idea in a single black and white image and to shoot films in sequence and edit them in-camera?

So, I imposed limits on myself. I decided each episode would be no more than 10 minutes, focusing on a single idea. I was so attached to my constraints that I sometimes spent hours editing out random words or padding my extro music to seemingly seamlessly hit the 10 minute, zero-second mark.

Sure. I grumbled at myself sometimes for my ridiculous self-imposed limits. In the end, though, I always had a better result.

Twitter drew a lot of criticism, and still does, for being steadfast about its 140 character limit. Say what you will about this brick wall, it forces us to be creative when we need to be and inspires us to be creative because we can be. Facebook and LinkedIn both impose slightly larger character limits on their updates. YouTube once imposed a 10-minute limit on videos.

The latest rage, also brought to us by Twitter, is Vine. I downloaded it today though haven’t had a chance to try it out. I’m looking forward to telling a story and communicating ideas in a six-second video clip.

The possibilities are limitless.

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About the Author:

Mark Blevis is a digital public affairs strategist and President of FullDuplex.ca, an integrated digital communications, public affairs and research company. His work focuses on the role of digital tools and culture on issues and reputation management. He also leads research into how Canadian opinions are shaped through online content and interactions.