Expressing creativity is an important part of many people’s lives. One way many humans express creativity is through crafts. What those crafts look like and how creativity is expressed has evolved over time. For my grandparents creativity was expressed gardening, collecting stamps/coins, knitting, crocheting, etc.. My parent’s version of creative expression might have included photography, scrapbooking, and painting on canvas. My wife and I customize photos on Instagram, share recipes on Pinterest, edit and update profiles on Facebook/Twitter and periodically mix in more traditional hobbies like gardening. All of these activities require a measure of creativity and provide for a sense of personal fulfillment and satisfaction and are an outlet/relief from stress (Dean, 2014). Electronics have become a viable addition to the crafting world with the increasing number of ways you can design, create and express yourself. It only causes me to wonder what new activities will exist for my children 10 years from now.
With the rapid growth of technology, older generations sometimes struggle to make sense or understand the value of digital activities. Entertainment and education are two areas that have undergone rapid alterations due to technological growth. Some traditional activities a generation ago, like reading a newspaper, have gone by the wayside in my family. My mother-in-law was frustrated when she visited earlier this summer and asked, “how do you get your news?” We seldom watch news shows, or read physical newspapers and her perception is that we are really uninformed. What she doesn’t realize is that I am not on my phone every morning playing games like Boom Beach/Clash of Clans (part of the time, but not all the time)… I read the news every morning (and throughout the day) when I review my Twitter feed and scroll through various news articles that I find interesting. Occasionally I comment on those news articles, and sometimes share them with others in my “social network”. My mother-in-law was also frustrated one evening as I was wildly thumbing away on my smartphone and her loud sigh seemed to indicate her annoyance with my device usage. While I think there is definitely a side conversation that could be had on the appropriate uses of digital devices…(Read: Even in a digital world, manners are important) what she didn’t understand was that I was in the middle of a class Twitter chat and needed to put my focus there (Adams, 2014). If I had a physical textbook out in front of my face she would have (perhaps) revered me as her proud academic son-in-law instead of her digitally detached and delinquent son-in-law.
Technology, education, and industry have all experienced tremendous changes as a result of rapid advances and future generations (digital natives) are going to gravitate towards the growing diverse methods of expressing themselves digitally. One example of this is with wearable e-textiles called Arduino projects. These smart textiles have grown over the last few years and many more advances are sure to happen as microcontrollers grow in power and shrink in size. “The diminutive microprocessor, designed to be incorporated into apparel or other soft goods, has easy connectors that integrate with a range of sensors and actuators with conductive thread. This combination opens a new platform for technology and fashion, allowing for easy projects like embedded LEDS, or more advanced projects like motorized, moving components that react from environmental conditions” (Einarson, 2013). From digital make-up to LED lit dresses, this technology will certainly catch the eye of both those in the industry hoping to market these products and also individuals who are inspired to create their own. Many of these are going to become more practical and certainly some can provide safety to the wearer. A bike turn signal jacket seems like a great development that may become standard in a few years. What was science fiction and utterly fantasy will rapidly be reality and affordable as advancements continue. In the movie Back to the Future II, actor Michael J. Fox got his futuristic clothing wet and they featured automatic dryers. After considering the landscape of Arduino technology one wonders how far away we are from that? Leah Buechley, creator of the LilyPad Arduino sees the applications of Arduino projects to currently be more specialized to specific items and feels we are still a long way from digital everything. “Do we want chips and batteries in every t-shirt? There have been some modest successes (blinky sneakers, heated winter wear, and body-sensing sports apparel), but the most compelling e-textiles work has taken place on smaller scales in the art and design worlds” (Mellis, 2014).
It is quite likely that traditional crafting will never go away. What I expect to see is the blending of traditional activities enhanced in some way by digital technology. Arduino projects are just one of the first larger scale examples of this. While some people don’t recognize the validity of digital crafting, its positive impacts are very real for the crafter. Digital crafts provide an enhancement to many people’s creative outlets of expression and are growing in popularity. One can only wonder what balance crafts and technology will strike as we look into the future.
Adams, J. (2014, August 10). Even in the digital world, manners are important. Retrieved July 21, 2015, from http://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/opinion/guest-columnists/2014/08/09/even-digital-world-manners-important/13824917/
Buechley, L. (2012, November 15). Leah Buechley: How to “sketch” with electronics. Retrieved July 15, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTBp0Z5GPeI
Dean, J. (2014, April 28). The Positive Effect of Creative Hobbies on Performance at Work – PsyBlog. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
Einarson, E. (2013, January 2). Go Bionic With These Wearable Arduino Projects. Retrieved July 16, 2015, from http://www.wired.com/2013/01/wearable-arduinos/
Mellis, D. (2014, February 4). Arduino Blog » Blog Archive » Sew electric with Leah Buechley – Interview. Retrieved July 16, 2015, from https://blog.arduino.cc/2014/02/04/sew-electric-with-leah-buechley-interview/
Naumann, J. (n.d.). Digital Scrapbooking vs. Traditional Scrapbooking. Retrieved July 16, 2015, from http://freecraftfair.com/digital-scrapbooking-vs-traditional-scrapbooking/