Creativity and Attention in the age of the Web


PARIS, MAY 1 2013



Many researchers have highlighted the connection between attention and creativity. The Web environment significantly affects the manner in which we allocate attention to information, tasks, and people.
This workshop addresses the question of what impact this has on creative pursuits. We look at creativity at many levels, from personal creativity (e.g. the different ways in which a student may solve a problem) to big-C creativity that generates new high impact findings. We concentrate on the effects that the Web environment has on on human attention and on all these types of creativity.
In particular, we will focus on empirical/experimental as well as conceptual research connecting topics such as: new types of creativity enabled by the web; the influence of Web-based environments on human attention; cognitive offload and its consequences; group creativity; creativity outsourcing.


We are living in the age defined by innovation driven economy. The ubiquity of the web in our lives (work and leisure time) forces us to reconsider our fundamental preconceptions regarding the creative and innovation processes. The complexity and the requirements of this new environment tell us that the age of the lone asocial romanticist genius is gone. Collaboration and collective creation is a must. Does the web facilitates these processes? And, if so,then in what way? What can we do to take advantage of what the web offers? How does it affect individuals? What are the consequences for education?

All these questions have prompted an unprecedented academic interest on creativity that is well represented by several academic meeting such as the International ACM Conference on Creativity and Cognition 2013 in Sydney, the AAAI 2013 Spring Symposium on Creativity and Cognitive Development in Stanford, the Mobile Learning and Creativity Workshop in Saarbrücken (September 2012), and the Creative Web Symposium: Computational Creativity as a Web‐Service in South Corea (December 2012). Our workshop, while aligning with the meetings above, aims at exploring more specific issues of creativity that are immediately related to the particular environment created by the Web.

Every new medium introduces new creative opportunities and shortens the path from the creator to the consumer: from the invention of writing, the printing process, photography, movies, to the radio and TV, the telephone, digital computer to the current era of hyper connectivity, always‐on, instant messaging, instant content producing and sharing. Unprecedented amount of all humane knowledge becomes easily available for many and our expectations of others (individuals and institutions) in terms of reactivity, productivity and efficiency is raised. Some researchers believe that the more constraints we have to overcome, the easier it becomes to create. Would then democratization of access to information and cheap communication actually lessen creativity, or reduce it to trivial creations?
On the other hand, creative behaviour has been connected with breath of attention (e.g. Kasof 1997, Friedman et al. 2003) and in general, wide attention deployment and defocused attention are considered to lead to greater creativity. Several researchers share the view that creativity requires variations in the field of attention (Gabora 2007, Vartanian 2009) and some experimental results hint that distractions improve creativity (Baird et al. 2012; Gallate et al. 2012). Based on these considerations one could expect that forced changes in attention focus such as those generated by many Web 2.0 applications, may actually improve creativity. However, previous research also tells us of other related factors that may intervene with a possible negative effect. For example it has been observed that stress or arousal, generated for example by time pressure or evaluation apprehension, may reduce breadth of attention and therefore hinder creativity (Karau and Kelly 1992; Smith, Michael, and Hocevar 1990); that interruptions are more likely to hinder, rather than improve, creativity, and that different types of interruptions may have varying degree of impact on different creative activities (Roda et al. 2013).


In this half‐day workshop we invite researchers and practitioners for an exploration of the influence of the Web environment on human attention and creativity. We welcome short papers reporting empirical/experimental as well as conceptual research connecting topics such as:

  • New types of creativity enabled by the web
  • The influence of Web based environments on human attention
  • Cognitive offload and its consequences
  • Group creativity
  • Creativity outsourcing

We invite full papers (8 pages), short / position papers (2-4 pages), and/or demonstrations to be submitted to by March 21

Demonstrations should be available online and be accompanied by a short description (no more than 2 pages).

All submissions will be reviewed by three members of the Program Committee.

We will pursue the possibility of publishing a selected number of papers in the special issue of a journal.


Papers/Demo due March 21 2013 - Extended March 29
Review feedback

starting April 5 March 29 (approx. one week after submissions)

Workshop May 1 2013


Organising committee

  • Georgi Stojanov - The American University of Paris (France)
  • Claudia Roda - The American University of Paris (France)
  • Bipin Indurkhya - International Institute of Technology, Hyderabad (India) and AGH University of Science and Technology, Cracow (Poland)

Program committee

  • Sandra Bruno, Université de Cergy‐Pontoise
  • Jayson P. Harsin, The American University of Paris
  • Thomas Kirste, University of Rostock
  • Mohammad Majid al‐Rifaie, Goldsmiths' College, University of London
  • Amitash Ohja International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad
  • Sebastian Pannasch, Technische Universitaet Dresden
  • Goran Trajkovski, Virginia International University
  • Giovanni Vincenti, Towson University
  • Sharon Wood, University of Sussex


Workshop registration is included in the conference registration fee. If you are not registered for the conference, the registration fee for the workshop is 84 Euros. Please see the conference registration page.


9h00 – 9h10 Welcome/Introduction
9h10 – 9h50 Keynote: Tony Veale
Divergent Thinking for Convergent Similarity Judgments: Harnessing The Diversity of Competing Viewpoints on the Web (PPT)

Session 1
9h50 – 10h05 Shiona Webster, Konstantinos Zachos, Neil Maiden
Web-Enabled Creativity: A Social Process(PPT and Paper)
10h05 – 10h15 Thierry Nabeth, Liana Razmerita, Kathrin Kirchner
Creativity and the management of attention with social media (PPT and Paper)
10h15 – 10h25 Burst session (5 min each – 1 slide, poster style):
Sonia Regina Soares da Cunha
We are your media: a study about participatory videographic practice and the Brazilian creative economy
Danco Davcev, Aleksandar Karadimce
Model for interactive, collaborative and creative Web and mCloud learning environment (PPT)
10h25 – 10h45 Discussion
10h45 – 11h00 Coffee break
Session 2
11h00 – 11h15 Bipin Indurkhya
Web and creative collaborations: Two approaches (PPT also available in PDF format)
11h15 – 11h30 Steven Dale
Parallels : a world to help you design, connect and share the evolution of your ideas
11h30 – 11h45 Julien Nelson & Todd Lubart
The World Wide Web as a tool for creative design: current issues and prospects for research (PPT)
11h45 – 12h00 Charlene Jennett et. Al.
Creativity in Citizen Cyber-Science: All for One and One for All (PPT, paper)
12h00 – 12h15 Claudia Roda, Georgi Stojanov, Dana Kianfar
Effects of Task Switching on Creativity Tests (PPT)
12h15 – 12h30 General discussion and conclusions


Abstracts (in order of presentation)


Divergent Thinking for Convergent Similarity Judgments: Harnessing The Diversity of Competing Viewpoints on the Web
Tony Veale
Web Science & Technology Division, KAIST, South Korea

Just as observing is more than merely seeing, comparing is far more than merely matching. It takes attention, understanding and even inventiveness to discern a useful basis for judging two ideas as similar in a particular context, especially when our perspective is shaped by an act of linguistic creativity such as metaphor, simile or analogy. Structured dictionary-like resources such as WordNet offer a convenient and frequently-used hierarchical means for converging on a common ground for comparison, but offer little support for the divergent thinking that is needed to creatively view one concept as another. WordNet -- and similar resources -- offer a traditionally convergent view of word/concept description, by focusing on just one narrow sliver of meaning. Rather than privileging this narrow normative viewpoint, a computational model of semantic similarity must embrace the many diverse (and competing) viewpoints that one can have on a topic from one context to another. In this talk I will show how the Web can be used to harvest many divergent viewpoints for many familiar ideas. These lateral perspectives complement the narrow vertical view offered by WordNet, and support a Web-based system for creative idea exploration called Thesaurus Rex. I will show how Thesaurus Rex is used to support a novel, generative similarity measure for WordNet that accords well with human intuitions about similarity. To computationally model the link between creativity and attention on the Web, our systems must embrace divergent thinking, and see ideas as humans see them: not through a narrow representational model, but in all their rich diversity.


WebWeb -Enabled Creativity: A Social Process
Shiona Webster, Konstantinos Zachos, Neil Maiden
Centre for Human Computer Interaction Design
City University London

This paper reports an emerging computational model of flow spaces in social creativity and learning that can be applied to guide human-centered creative cognition in social groups. In particular we are planning for the model to be applied to inform creative goal setting, creativity technique selection and adaptation, and guided social interaction during creative problem solving and learning. We will seek to take advantage of the wealth of information made available through the advancement of Web 2.0. to inspire creativity and idea generation in individuals and groups.

Creativity and the management of attention with social media
Authors: Thierry Nabeth*, Liana Razmerita**, Kathrin Kirchner***
* PESOR, University Paris Sud 11, Faculté Jean Monet, Sceaux, France
** Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, Denmark,
*** University Hospital Jena, Jena, Germany,

Social media has transformed the web into a hyper-connected social space that is inundated by a flood of social signals that reflects the activities of the members, and contributes to the dynamic of the interaction. In this context, the participants decode, process and emit information for making sense of this social world, and for acting upon it. The objective of this paper is to explore the implication of this setting for an application in the context of supporting creativity online. More specifically, we examine the effect of the massive circulation of this social information and its management on systems supporting the collective creative process online.

We are your media: a study about participatory videographic practice and the Brazilian creative economy
Sonia Regina Soares da Cunha
Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil

Abstract: This paper is based in an academic research which purpose has been studying the  participatory videographic practice that expresses the popular Brazilian culture (collective symbolic production) in a sociocultural context where the minorities are. The introduction presents the object of the investigation, the mediatic enviroment of the film and video workshops organized by “Cinema para Todos” (non-profitmaking institution). The next section introduces the process of learning and using of audiovisual resources (digital video) by the social actors of the investigated communities. Following, there is an analysis of creative economy group organized by these audiovisual culture producers. And finally, we present a consideration about the audiovisual production (auto ethnographic video) produced by the investigated communities that reflects the socio-cultural and technological change experienced by the social group.


Model for interactive, collaborative and creative Web and mCloud learning environment
Danco Davcev, Aleksandar Karadimce
University Ss Cyril and Methodius, Skopje, R. Macedonia

In this position paper we propose a model for interactive, collaborative and creative multimedia distance learning in mCloud which goes beyond the existing solutions and provides personalized delivery of multimedia learning content. In our approach, we provide a system with a high interaction, social group collaboration (for increased attention of self-created groups of students) and group creativity among the students by using the advantages of the Web and mobile Cloud (mCloud). The instructor is just an organizer and advisor on the group level, while the students, supported by the Web, are searching the learning multimedia content in high interactive, collaborative and creative way. In order to prepare customized learning material, the students are also supported by data mining algorithms applied on the large collection of multimedia learning objects (LOs) in the mCloud. Our empirical results would confirm the superiority of our approach with respect to other known learning concepts.


Web and creative collaborations: Two approaches
Bipin Indurkhya
Department of Computer Science, AGH University of Science and Technology, Cracow (Poland)
Cognitive Science Lab, International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad (India)

In recent years, creativity-as-a-collaborative-process view is gaining grounds, in which a number of independent agents interact together, and the creative insight emerges as a result of this interaction (John-Steiner 2006; Miell & Littleton 2004; Sawyer 2008, Ogawa, Indurkhya & Byrski 2012). In this paper, we present two approaches to incorporate collaborative interactions underlying creativity that take advantage of web-based connectivity. The first approach is based on the role of perceptual similarities in stimulating novel and creative conceptual associations (Corner 2010; Ewedemi 2011; Greenwood 2009; Indurkhya 2013b; Indurkhya et al. 2008). The idea here is to use WordNet to anchor conceptual associations based on the perceptual features of the source and the target (Bhatt, Ojha and Indurkhya 2011; Schwering et al. 2009). The other approach is aimed to quantify degree of creativity based on the feedback from a large number of users in a crowd-sourcing platform, and use this feedback to stimulate creativity of an individual user. In this approach, we elicit responses from the users on two different dimensions, namely degree of understandability and degree of novelty, combine these responses from a large number of users, and then display the combined response to an individual user in an intuitive way as a measure of their creativity. We use a number of standard creativity tests (Guilford 1967; Torrence 1974) to measure the effect of this feedback on stimulating the individual user’s creativity.


Open-source visual mapping and storytelling platform
Steven Dale

Our daily experience is fragmenting into increasingly smaller moments and more diverse modes of interaction. This trend, compounded with the shift towards collaborative versus individual models of work makes it difficult to holistically manage, connect and share the fragments of knowledge, or bits, which we create and consume. At the core of these changes are the phenomena of attention and distraction. Our current view of distraction is negative and myopic. I propose there is tremendous value in distraction that goes unacknowledged, as the tools, processes and awareness to trace its influence on the evolution of our ideas are woefully undeveloped.


The World Wide Web as a tool for creative design: current issues and prospects for research
Julien Nelson & Todd Lubart
Institut de PsychologieUniversité Paris Descartes

In this paper, we use Shneiderman’s genex framework to identify some of the main research issues related to the use of World Wide Web technology to assist creative work. Genex includes four main stages: collecting information, creating innovations, consulting peers and mentors, and disseminating creative productions. Many web-based systems have been devised to assist the work of creative teams. However, a review of the field and of the underlying issues in human factors shows that most systems only exploit one of the components of genex. We present CREATIVENESS, a research project which aims to assess the potential of Virtual Worlds such as Second Life to assist this kind of work. We argue that virtual worlds will make it possible to exert greater control over the creative work environment and take advantage of more components of the genex framework.


Creativity in Citizen Cyber-Science: All for One and One for All
Charlene Jennett, Alexandra Eveleigh, Kathleen Mathieu, Zoya Ajani, Anna L. Cox
University College London

We interviewed researchers and volunteers about their experiences of creativity in citizen cyber-science (CCS). Our preliminary results reveal two types of creativity – imaginative self-expression and solving project problems. We conclude that a good project community is important for encouraging creativity in CCS.


Effects of Task Switching on Creativity Tests
Claudia Roda, Georgi Stojanov, Dana Kianfar
The American University of Paris

We analyze the results of an experiment where participants were asked to complete a set of creativity tests under various interruption conditions. The results indicate that interruptions hinder creativity. However, the extent by which creativity is thwarted depends both on the creative activity considered and the quality of the task interrupting it. These results suggest that a better understanding of how different types of interruptions interact with specific creative activities may help preventing some of the undesired effects. Unexpectedly, we found no evidence that interruptions may improve creativity but we believe that this effect may be possible under conditions that were not reflected by our experiment.


Call for papers
Important dates
Program (with PPT)