A place for creative collaboration – ideas?

We’re building a place for creative collaboration and we love ideas.  Here’s the thing:

Philosophers have spent centuries defining art and creativity.  Recently scientists and educators have taken to researching creativity.  But from a work standpoint, we don’t really need to understand the roots of the creative instinct, or how the mind works comes up with ideas and makes them real.

Importantly, creativity in the work environment is almost never a solo act.  We’re constantly creating with other people.  We’re doing what humans do:  interacting with other humans to change our world and add something to it. It’s really as simple as that for creativity in work: make something new together.

How that happens, the outcomes and the tools and processes we use however, vary widely. Maybe we use a white board, maybe draw on a piece of paper, or make a paper airplane. Maybe it’s a list of steps, or code, or a powerpoint deck or a business plan. If it’s electronic, we probably email it back and forth, we might share it online somehow. If it’s a physical object, we have to be in the same room typically.

At a conceptual level, two or more people arrive at a space in which they intend (premeditated or accidentally) to collaborate.  There is the genesis of what they are going to collaborate on (again, premeditated or accidental), a forum in which they will work and materials with which they will work. The participants put ideas into meaningful representations into the space that both can interact with such as audible sounds (words, music, noise), text (representations of language) or images and motion.  The space holds these items while the people manipulate, add, remove each item and form them to intersect with the other elements inside the space. The participants decide to stop the creative activity, and either clean up (where they space is formalized and fixed into the intended result), or leave it for another time (which may be the intended consequence).  The end result of the collaboration is ready to be used as intended by the collaborative participants.

That’s a rudimentary outline of the creative collaborative process.  Note that it does not indicate in any way the means by which people come up with creative ideas, or suggestions on how to best be creative. That’s something else entirely. What it does imply however, is that there needs to be collaborators, a space dedicated to the effort, material to work with and a way to have the final result of the collaboration fixed in some manner for further use.

Humans have been following this exact process for creative collaboration forever. It may have taken the form of working synchronously (typically in a room together, but recently over the phone), asynchronously (like sending a painting back and forth, or emailing a powerpoint deck), or jointly like a blog narrative.

But, we believe that while the human process will always remain the same for creative collaboration, that the tools we have available to us today are not adequate; particularly for synchronous collaboration, and most notably for distributed, real-time collaboration.  They are too defined in terms of their inputs and outputs, they don’t have enough interaction capabilities and they don’t allow for accidental synchronous collaboration with an end product.  Phew, that’s a mouthful.

We find that here’s what you need for real-time, online collaboration:

  1. A flexible, multi-person space where materials can be easily added from a wide range of sources that are apparently not-related and from multiple layers of human relation
  2. A flexible space in which to manipulate those materials as you see fit
  3. A space that allows for real-time, visually oriented human interaction
  4. A method to create new spaces as needed to enhance the creative activity
  5. A method to store the final products of the creative activity
  6. An low barrier way for participants to join (purposefully or accidentally) and leave the creative space


That’s what we’re building with the new version of Vusion.

Are there things you would like to see in it specifically?  We’re always looking for input on what to add to our products!


Posted on April 19, 2011 in Technology, Updates

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