Beyond binary choices: Understanding and exploiting trade-offs to enhance creativity

Gerhard Fischer


Many research approaches are conceptualized as binary choices, representing endpoints of a spectrum (each of them providing important perspectives within their own discourses). Design and creativity are often conceptualized as being focused on one of these binary choices, thereby overlooking other possibilities. To better stimulate, enhance, and support creativity, our research has explored the middle ground between the endpoints defined by binary choices to identify “sweet spots” based on a careful trade–off analysis of specific goals, objectives, stakeholders, and socio–technical environments.
This paper illustrates some of the major trade–offs related to design and creativity that we have explored in our research over the last ten years, including prescriptive and permissive environments, individual and social creativity, communities of practice and communities of interest, and consumer and active contributor cultures. It briefly describes some of the socio–technical environments that we have developed to enhance creativity in specific contexts.

Full Text:



A Great Cities Initiative of the University of Illinois at Chicago University Library.

© First Monday, 1995-2019. ISSN 1396-0466.