Creative by Design

“Copying is the well spring of all creativity. This is where it all begins.”

This quote, by Kirby Ferguson in the video Everything is a Remix, brings interesting insight into a space that is so often dominated by claims of possession and ownership. I completely understand the basis for claims surrounding ownership, rights, and proper credit/payment- people want to be seen, recognized, and to make a living to support themselves. I in no way condone blatant copying or plagiarism nor promote improper attribution. But if you look beyond the day to day and think about creativity in light of this quote, these claims are detrimental to creatives and societal progress. Since the beginning of time we’ve been copying each other and building off of each other and that is the sole reason we have progressed at our current rate.

Gatekeeping is great hinderance to progress. Every person has time and unique talents that can be used to learn, grow, explore, create, and document. As we use our unique, or one could even say divine, gifts and talents we can contribute to the progression of whatever industry or interest we have chosen to pursue. Selfishness is often a large inhibitor to industry progress.

If great scientific minds had chosen to gatekeep their discoveries or if poeple had been unable to take aspects of the first computers and modify them we would be left clueless about our universe and decades behind the progress we have made today.

The “secret ingredient” that makes all of this work is our humanity. I love when Ferguson points out that “AI is derivative by design and creative by chance.” The beauty is that humans are consistently creative even when they don’t mean to be because they collect information and interpret, twist, and output it based on their experiences, talents, interests, and perspectives. As humans we are creative by design and often derivative by chance. When we remember both our humanity and collective interests, creativity thrives and humanity is able to come closer to our potential.

Image Source: Vlada Karpovich, Source

3 responses to “Creative by Design”

  1. Catherine Eyre Avatar
    Catherine Eyre

    I’m intrigued by what you’re saying about selfishness. We celebrate stories of sharing innovations without restriction, like with the seat belt, and get upset when things are ‘gatekept’ from us. But at the same time, should creators be forced to not be selfish? If they want something they made to be completely in their own control, or, for example, to not be in an AI dataset, should they be able to make that ‘selfish’ choice for themselves?

  2. Shaylyn Lawyer Avatar
    Shaylyn Lawyer

    I think you bring up some great points! I agree that progression is built on the willingness of people to share their talents, and that, in a lot of ways, selfishness can slow this progress. I also think this creative progress would be harmed if creators weren’t given some form of ownership and recognition of their work, for as you mention, people want to make a living. For this reason, I like your distinction that copying and plagiarism shouldn’t be condoned.

  3. Elijah Pearce Avatar
    Elijah Pearce

    I really liked the Ferguson quote you used: “AI is derivative by design and creative by chance.” I’ve been working with an AI image generator (or the term “remixer” might be a better word for it) and it definitely seems like I’m chasing chance half the time.

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