Creative Communities

technoboy10 · Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The following was written as a foreword to the 2015 Scratch Conference in Amsterdam. It’s pretty similar to my post ‘Making vs Coding’, but I thought I’d post it here anyway. Enjoy!

I think if I had to narrow down a list of the most valuable things Scratch has taught me, I could pick two things: creativity and community. On Scratch the two ideas are intrinsically linked.

When I create a project on Scratch and then share it, I am inviting others to join in the process. Others suggestions help me refine or take the project further. Someone suggests a great piece of music to put behind my project or my younger sister volunteers to make an 8-bit character for me and it’s no longer just my project but our project. It’s not necessarily about what I can create but about what we, collectively can create. Creativity enhances community, and community enhances creativity.

The creative community has been a core element of Scratch. Creative collaboration over competition. We become better coders, create more interesting projects and learn when we work together in community. Scratch has had a vital role in teaching me to work and learn in community.

Largely because of my foundation with Scratch, computing has always been an inherently creative platform. I was introduced to Scratch by my Dad when I was eight and it almost immediately captured my imagination, not because of what I could program, but because of the worlds I could create.

I’ve always disliked the “get a better job” rationale as the sole reason for learning to code. Computing can, and should be so much more than just a tool. When I teach Scratch, I never do it because I expect my students to become computer scientists. I do it so that they have another outlet for creativity that they might not otherwise have access to.

Sometimes today’s computing culture feels like a battle of designer vs developer - art opposing logic. If anything, CS should bridge the gap between hard logic and creative art. Computers are strictly logical at their core, but as a tool they can be used for unique experiences that are more art than anything else.

See, Scratch has never really been about programming to me. It has always been about programming as a medium for creative expression. Creativity through programming. And not only that, but sharing your experiences with others, for them to build on and improve.

I don’t like coding, I like making.