a manifesto of creative acts

making tools is a creative act
teaching is a creative act
curating is a creative act
criticism is a creative act
community building is a creative act
manifesto writing is a creative act
making games is a creative act
(there are many more creative acts than this)

the end result of all of these things is a change in the culture we’re making together. no work exists in a vacuum. think about what change you want to make in the cultures you exist in, then make the work that can best make that change.

different people are better at different things. that’s okay. we’re all working together, and no one way is more important than any other.

there’s not one culture. there’s many different cultures, and they look different from every different perspective. every culture is important and valuable to people within it. every culture is harmful to some people within it. every culture is harmful to some people outside of it. let’s try to make the cultures we’re part of better.

“The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

there are many reasons to perform a creative act. you could do it because of money. you could do it because you enjoy the process in itself. you could do it because it is a satisfying to see people using a thing you have made. you could do it for a sense of power. you could do it to find a sense of belonging within a community. you could do it to prove a point. you could do it because you wonder what would happen if you did. you could do as a gift to another. it’s good to know your reasons.

why do i stress “creative act”? the way you do these things will necessarily be inflected with your values & personality. that’s a good thing. there are problems to be solved, and no-one else would solve them the way you will. there are standards & best practices, and they’re often good ideas… but execution is never a case of just blindly following them.

related: there’s no such thing as a neutral stance, no way of approaching a problem that will let everyone be equally welcome. that’s okay; there are other people & other places. it’s unhealthy to think that any of these things are owed to you. but at the same time, it’s unhealthy to be arrogant about the things you’re creating. the work exists as a connection between people, and only has value because of that. technology allows this connection to be massively scaled up - but doesn’t change the essential fact of connection between people.

when you take an idea from someone else and execute on it honestly, it becomes your idea. i don’t mean that you have ownership over the original idea - i mean that by executing on it honestly, you will create an entirely new thing.

no-one makes a thing alone. we draw from our cultures just the same as we feed into it. someone made the tools you’re using, someone taught you, someone made the games you’re drawing from, someone organized the meetup where you met the person who is doing the sounds when the thing happens… our strength is not our individual strength, it is the strength we have together. and credit (or blame) should be apportioned that same way.

all of these creative acts change our cultures. different acts change them in different ways, but the mapping is not always clear at the start. it’s your responsibility to learn as best you can what change your acts will make.

what change do you want to make? what ways can you make that happen? how best to use your strength?

written for the 2018 manifesto jam

13 February 2018