Tag Archives: creativity

Is ‘art’ still art if an AI makes it?

The picture above was generated by an AI [Futurism].

“The artwork, titled “Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,” depicts a scifi-inspired scene of an opera performance. But Jason Allen, who submitted the artwork, used AI image generator Midjourney to create it.”


Further along in the article, Jason Allen talks about how he set up the parameters for Midjourney [the software/AI] to use. Then he chose what he considered to be the best from three outcomes. And it won first prize at the Colorado State Fair.

When I first read this article, my initial reaction was horror. How could a piece of software, no matter how sophisticated, produce something this…beautiful? But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it was the parameters set by Jason Allen that had created an image of great beauty, so in that sense, Midjourney was simply another tool.

I admit an AI is a bit more high tech than a paintbrush, but the creativity still came from Allen.

What do you think? The beginning of the end for artists? Or just one more tool?


The craft of creation

As more and more of the world becomes automated, what will there be left for humans?

My answer: beauty and the creation of designs never conceived before. I can imagine a robot making this piece of glass, but I can’t imagine a robot conceiving of the design. That is our job.

Work has been using up a lot of my energy lately, but I’ll try and post lovely gems like these when I can. Enjoy.


A changing of the guard amongst my posts

top posts pic for 13 jan 2015 2

It’s 9.43am on January 13th, 2015, and for the first time in almost two years, the top post on my blog is not ‘How to use the USB cable to transfer photos from the Samsung Galaxy SII….’ [etc]. And I’m rapt!

That particular post has brought a grand total of 63,882 visitors to my blog, and well over 100 comments. It also catapulted me back into teaching/training, so I am grateful, very grateful, but I’m glad it’s on the way out.

The reason that post is on the way out is because the technological niche it served is getting out of date. In a word, the Samsung Galaxy SII phone has been superseded by newer phones, and users have upgraded away from the SII.

But why does this make me happy? Don’t I like having so many people coming to the blog? Isn’t it a great way to get my name out there?

Well, last things first – no, the people coming to read that particular, how-to post are not interested in my other posts on bushfires, or climate change, or… heavens forbid, science fiction. The search engine brings them in [thank you Google]. They read. They may leave a comment. And then they go. Which is exactly what I would do if I were simply looking for information.

That said, a few visitors may read one of my other how-to posts, or even one of my more general posts, but in terms of generating visibility, I don’t think that how-to post has done much to increase the awareness of my presence online.

Which brings me to the middle question : don’t I like having people come to the blog? The simple answer is YES! I have loved each any every person who left a comment about the Samsung Galaxy SII post. But… those lovely people have been like ships passing in the night; they didn’t stay.

And finally, the first question last : why am I happy that my single most popular post is on the way out?

That question is a little harder to answer. Part of it is a strange sort of jealousy. I began this blog because the pundits said I had to promote myself in order to promote my book[s]. As I did not, and still do not, like Facebook, or Twitter, a quiet blog was the obvious solution.

Of course, being the contrary little person that I am, I then spent far less time writing about my fiction than I did writing about my other passions. But that was okay. Those passions defined me, and the blog was supposed to be about me as well as my work.

But then I wrote an odd little post that harked back to my technical writing days. I expected it to die a quiet death within 24 hours, but instead it exploded …and kept on exploding for almost two years.

This was not why I had started my blog! This was something that belong to my past. Why was it coming back to haunt me?

I’m not religious, but sometimes I really do feel as if fate is trying to rub my nose in things, and this time it seemed that fate was trying to tell me I needed a day job, as a trainer.

This past year has seen my ponderous ship turn in mid-stream and head off down the teaching path again. I haven’t been wildly successful, but I have had some very satisfying personal successes. Unfortunately, those successes came at the cost of my creative writing. To put it bluntly, this last year has been a terrible year for my writing.

I did have a couple of stabs at writing during the year, but mostly my creativity just fizzled, until recently. I have been writing again since just before Christmas and I feel 20 years younger, and at least 50 years happier!

Even if this rush of creativity fizzles out once I start teaching again, at least I’ll know I’ve accomplished a couple of things :

1. I’ll know that I still have that ‘something’ in me that comes up with ideas, and is in love with words,

2. And I’ll know that I finished the first part of Innerscape exactly on my 62nd birthday this time. [I missed publishing Vokhtah on my 60th birthday by three days].

Innerscape Part One is not published, but I did send it off to one of my wonderful Alpha Readers [also on my birthday], so it is a milestone. Where Part One will go from here is a mystery. At a whisker under 50,000 words, it’s too short for a novel but way too long for a novella, so… -shrug-

For a while there I toyed with the idea of publishing Part One in serial form, but then I realised that people reading it would want to keep on reading it, and the rest of the story is still a long, long way from finished. It simply wouldn’t be fair to publish the start of something that could take me years to complete.

So this point in time is not an end-point, it’s just a milestone. But it’s a milestone that makes me happy, and the decline of the Samsung Galaxy SII post feels like a small, reluctant nod from fate.

I think 2015 is going to be a good year. 🙂



Creativity – the elephant in the room

As a writer, creativity is important to me because without it I would have nothing to say, nothing to write about, however I truly believe that creativity is rather over-rated and the emphasis placed on it is misguided.

To me, creativity is just the spark that ignites a process that may or may not result in the birth of something new. That something could be a piece of music, a painting, a story … or a new theory in the sciences. Yes, I include scientific theories as well as the arts because innovation in any form requires both imagination and the ability to think outside the box. It also requires hardwork, self-discipline, oodles of dedication and the courage to persist in the face of repeated setbacks. Elevating ‘creativity’ above all the other necessary ingredients is like trying to bake a cake with nothing but eggs. If you’re lucky you may end up with an omelette but you sure as hell won’t be eating sponge cake.

And let’s not forget those pesky tools of the trade. Just as cabinet makers need to know how to use hammers, chisels and saws, writers need to know how to spell, punctuate and write grammatically. These are not optional extras!  As a writer I may choose to mangle the language in order to give a character a certain kind of voice, or to create a mood etc but god help me if I do so unintentionally!

Style is another misused tool. Poetic licence should never be invoked to cover up poor writing. Styles in writing have changed a great deal since the time of Dickens but we can still tell good prose from bad. How? By looking at how well it does what it is meant to do. If it captures the reader’s attention and holds it from start to finish without any ‘what the..?’ moments then it is good prose. It may not be great prose but it is good nonetheless because it is doing the job of conveying the content without intruding.  It is neither bloated nor awkward and it rarely needs to be skimmed because none of it is superfluous. And good prose never makes you re-read a passage to tease meaning out of a sentences groaning with clauses.

What then is great prose?

To me, great prose is good prose that also happens to be lyrical and evocative,  or just plain beautiful. ‘A Postillion Struck by Lightning’ by the late Dirk Bogarde is one of those rare books that exemplify what great contemporary prose should be. I rarely read biographies much less autobiographies but… let’s just say that I made an exception for Dirk Bogarde the actor and fell in love with Dirk Bogarde the writer. The story he told was quite ordinary – I’m sure countless children of his day would have had similar experiences –  yet he made it special because he told it so well.

“The sun had been up only a little while and beside me, close to my face, so that it was actually all blurry and looked like an eagle, was a burnet-moth on a bit of grass, feeling the sun and waiting for the dusk to come.”

This complicated sentence should not work yet it does because the punctuation is perfect, as is the flow of imagery from boy lying in the grass to moth being watched by boy. It conjures images familiar from our own childhoods. And the creativity lies not in the content but in the telling.

I believe great prose can lift any content, even if it is not particularly imaginative or ‘creative’ but even the best content cannot make a book enjoyable if we are forever tripping over the writer’s more mundane inadequacies. So let the creativity take care of itself and focus on the telling. You may be surprised by how good the finished product becomes.

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