Posted by: Liz Massey | July 14, 2008

Surf’s Up: Creativity Links for July 14, 2008

The cloud-a-riffic wonder of Wordle, planning for what becomes of our art once we’re gone, and a meditation on fascination, plus a cool little tool for online sketching, are what’s on tap for today’s creative link-fest.

1. It seems the creative blogosphere has discovered Wordle, which creates “clouds” from a given set of text, and fallen in love with it. And indeed, what’s not to like?

Here’s an article that I’ve written about the importance of persistence in creative success turned into a Wordle cloud.

Film editor Norman Hollyn has the right idea when he realizes Wordle is far more than a toy, as its creator Jonathan Feinberg calls it. The site’s ability to easily allow users to manipulate text, and to see which “keywords” stand out in terms of large type, provides wily Wordle-rs with a wealth of information about content. As he says,

“The possibilities are tremendous — as a way of visually representing the way people are thinking at any given moment….The holy grail of marketing on the Web is measuring its readers. The next step after that is making sense of what you measure. Wordle is an interesting way of making that “sense” more visible.”

Other Wordle devotees are using the tool to further their creative efforts. Over at The Struggling Writer, the blog’s author, an aspiring novelist, has used the tool to create a word portrait using all 50,000 words of his book. Web worker Michelle Thorne passes along a suggestion originally posted by Rebecca Froley on a blog that Wordle can make “design-tastic” business cards, if one is willing to import the image to Flickr, then print the cards using MOO.

I’m personally quite enamored with the possibilities that Wordle offers to visually map text-based information and create fabulous “word art” in a digital format, as well as the new and endlessly funky uses of the tool that people are coming up with daily. Wordle rules!

2. Nobody likes to think about it, but everyone dies, even artists. It may be easy enough for your executor to help your family decide how to divide up your house and furniture, but what about your sculptures? Your sketchbooks? Your writing journal or your experimental video projects?

Jana Bouc, over at The Illustrated Life blog, has compiled a concise guide to estate planning for artists. While the post isn’t intended to be comprehensive, it is a good starting point for creative folk who need to do this sort of preparation anyway, and it covers an issue few other estate planning materials that I’ve encountered even broach. If you care about what happens to your art once you pass on, please read this.

3. Finally, the good folks over at the Heart of Innovation blog have posted a right-on piece about the importance of fascination in the world of workplace innovation.

Mitch Ditkoff, the blog’s author, writes,

“In my experience, the origin of innovation is fascination — the state of being intensely interested in something. Enchanted. Captivated. Spellbound. Absorbed…. A person who is fascinated does not need to be motivated… or managed… or ‘incentivized.’ All that person needs is time, some resources, meaningful collaboration, and periodic reality checks from someone who understands what fascination is all about.”

Mitch also includes a nice exercise for igniting one’s fascination at work.


I have been meaning for weeks to blog about Sketchcast, a neat tool for broadcasting a drawing to your blog or website audience in real-time, with or without narration.

To use Sketchcast, you record your sketch, use a microphone to record audio to go with the drawing, then be embed your sketchcast on your blog or homepage for people to play-back. Would-be sketchcasters can also create a channel at the tool’s home page and allow people to view it there, or subscribe to a sketchcast RSS feed.

As the site owner says, “Sketchcasting is new but it’s based on an old principle: the whiteboard (or the napkin in a bar) on which you sketch something to get a concept across… or to just have some fun.”

Here’s a brief Sketchcast to show how the tool operates. I think it could provide all sorts of opportunities and creative options for artists!


  1. Thanks for linking to my blog and thanks for the information. That Sketchcast sounds very interesting.

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