Creativity Support Tools: A Grand Challenge


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About this Webcast:


08 June 2006


Professor Ben Shneiderman, CS, ISR, UMIACS; Founding Director HCIL


Creativity Support Tools is a research topic with high risk but potentially very high payoff. The goal is to develop improved software and user interfaces that empower users to be more productive, and more innovative. Potential users include software and other engineers, diverse scientists, product and graphic designers, architects, educators, students, new media artists, and many others. Enhanced interfaces could enable more effective searching of intellectual resources, improved collaboration among teams, and more rapid discovery processes. These advanced interfaces should also provide potent support in hypothesis formation, speedier generation of alternatives, deeper insights through visualization, and better dissemination of results. For creative endeavors that require composition of novel artifacts (computer programs, scientific papers, engineering diagrams, symphonies, artwork, poems, etc.), enhanced interfaces could facilitate evaluation of proposed designs, prevent unproductive choices, and enable easy backtracking.

A US National Science Foundation-sponsored workshop ( brought together 25 research leaders and graduate students to share experiences, identify opportunities, and formulate research challenges.

Two key outcomes emerged:

  • Formulation of guidelines for design of creativity support tools
  • Novel research methods emphasizing Multi-Dimensional Indepth Longitudinal Case Studies (MILCs)

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