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Is Being Creative and Being Technically Creative two different aspects?What are the usual traits we associated with being creative – moody, unconventional, cool, bend the rules, do the dont’s, ask why not, surprises, popular, gifted, need their space, explore, self driven, self charged… Well, all these attributes fit so well when picture a Creative Director of an Advertising Agency, a columnist, a script writer and so on. Well, it is so true that these professions require such traits. These traits are the key to their professional success, and in a way, their personal lives too. More often than not these individuals are good at their field and have made up their mind to devote the maximum time and energy in that field itself. When passion combines with skill, when drive combines with perseverance, the combination is lethal. As a by product of their contribution to their respective fields the perception and image of being ‘Creative’ is re-enforced. Being ‘Creative’ is connoted with certain traits, and everyone in that field is believed to have those traits.  Also, the kind of cult status these individuals possess, makes them popular and more desired. They make their jobs more enviable!!! 

Now lets shift to being really really ‘Creative Technically’. Does all that we had been talking about hold good still? Perhaps not all, perhaps not most of it. There is indeed high respect for the research, agility, and ease with technicalities which is admired by a lot. Still somewhere if we were peg it, it still has not reached a cult status, a status where it is put at par with the being creative in non technical fields.  Now, the Technically creative have a different set of traits associated – nerd, long working hours, non emotional, gifted, self driven, self charged, non with pronounced social skills, poor at communication with the public, not inclined on social networking, hooked to a virtual world… Well with all these traits, it does not achieve the stage where popularity and envy is associated. It is perceived to be laborious and not so cool. What is your experience on this subject. I would love to be proved wrong.

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  1. Thorsten Franz
    Hi Vinod,
    Being technically creative and successful doesn’t seem to be as prestigeous as being creative and successful in other fields, but IMHO in recent years geek prestige has been on the uprise — to the point where people are decorating themselves with perceived attributes of geekiness because they think it’s fashionable.
    Perception aside: I believe that the main difference between technically creative people and some other creatives is that a creative techie – the typical software builder – has be both a highly *analytical* and *synthetical* thinker.
    This means that she must be able to analytically break a domain or a problem down into small parts, and then synthecically build something entirely new (a solution) out of these technical or conceptual building blocks. Ideally, the process combines sharp thinking with intuition.
    Sometimes there seem to be strong parallels with scientific theory-building. Interestingly, many scientific thinkers, just like good software designers, find aesthetic criteria highly relevant when judging an idea.
    Cheers,
    Thorsten
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    1. Vinod Jose Post author
      Thorsten, I believe that its all in our mind and as you rightly put, it is a highly ‘analytical’ and ‘Synthetically’

      mind of the thinker.

      No matter what the role of a technically creative person, they need to architect solutions, simulate, think and

      conceptualize. The more you get into the depth of the subect, the more intersting it gets. As they say God lies in 

      details.

      Its just a perception that the ability to talk to a ‘machine’ I mean a computer and make it simulate what you want;

      for a lot of poeple it may not be a work of art. Philosophy is highly logical too, yet, being philosophical and

      being technical creative are weighed separately.

      Its also the perception created by the media of how the geek would look like – typing away as fast as lightning, big

      glasses. socially inept.

      Computation and thinking are comparable to for instance research economist or an author writing a book – fiction/non

      fiction. HOwever the images which flash are kind of quite different.

      Its just a matter of time that the whole paradigm of being technically creative would be at par with being

      technically creative otherwise.

      It was great discussing with you.

      -Vinod Jose

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  2. Vijay Vijayasankar
    Your blog brings to mind the new intel campaign that shows the guy who invented USB where the punch line is something like “our rockstars are not like your rockstars”.

    That being said – I have worked with a fair number of creative techies, and some had good social skills and some didn’t. I thought it was pretty evenly distributed. However – there is one serious difference between how the techie’s career gets groomed as opposed to say an “ad executive’s”. In their early years – techies do mostly behind the scenes work, with very little ability to influence the big picture, or to meet end users or make presentations etc. Although it is hard for ad-execs also in their early years to make big swings, my opinion is that they get more such chances early in their careers than our techie folks. So this could be a reason why the creative side of some techies don’t always bring good social skills with it.

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    1. Vinod Jose Post author
      Vijay, in essence ‘our rockstars’ are ‘rockstars’ but not like their ‘rockstars’.
      Which puts the technically creative @ par with the counterpart and I feel the by line is also an attempt to seek recognition at the platform.

      Anyways even all rockstars are not same, so as long the technically creative is labeled a rockstar, it serves the bill.

      -Vinod Jose

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    2. Thorsten Franz
      Vijay,
      Thank you for pointing out that social skills may be evenly distributed in techie and non-techie professions. I believe that the socially inept techie is a cliché and that accountants, insurance claim handlers, fast food cooks, and violinists are just as likely to be socially inept as programmers.

      Generally, highly successful people have better social skills than unsuccessful people because social skills help you succeed in many cases. This goes for techies as well as for non-techies. The higher the level you’re working on, the more you need your social skills to succeed (again, generally).

      However, there may exist professions where social skills are the only indispensible success factor and may substitute for lack of skill in the actual key area.
      For example, you can be a successful doctor with a full waiting room and happy patients if you’re a very nice person, even though you may be bad at healing people. When it’s hard to measure the quality of your work or the depth of your expertise, other factors such as your charisma become more important.
      But when you’re techie, it’s easier to measure your skill.
      * Press F8 and your program will run and perform the task or it won’t.
      * When you consistently solve problems all of your colleagues have failed to solve before even though they may have more years of experience, that is also a clear indicator that you’re skilled.
      So if you’re inarguably very good in key areas of your profession but not good with people, techie skills may substitute for social skills to a certain extent just as the charisma of the nice doctor may substitute for his lacking medical skills.
      Cheers,
      Thorsten

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