Volume 3(1), 2007-02, 12—33

Creativity in amateur multimedia: Popular culture, critical theory, and HCI

Jeffrey Bardzell
Indiana University, Bloomington

The last decade has witnessed the emergence and aesthetic maturation of amateur multimedia on an unprecedented scale, from video podcasts to machinima, and Flash animations to user-created metaverses. Today, especially in academic circles, this pop culture phenomenon is little recognized and even less understood. This paper explores creativity in amateur multimedia using three theorizations of creativity—those of HCI, postructuralism, and technological determinism. These theorizations frame a semiotic analysis of numerous commonly used multimedia authoring platforms, which demonstrates a deep convergence of multimedia authoring tool strategies that collectively project a conceptualization and practice of digital creativity. This conceptualization of digital creativity in authoring tools is then compared with hundreds of amateur-created artifacts. These analyses reveal relationships among emerging amateur multimedia aesthetics, common software authoring tools, and the three theorizations of creativity discussed.

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