Blog Pile

Story Told in Emoticons- and being creative inside the box…

I love this 3 minute TED clip of Rives telling a love (or not) story played out in emoticons:

(sideline complaint- I installed a new version flash and now about 20% of the web sites, including my own, cannot load the content, WTF?)

You know how the motivational thinkers trot out the “thinking outside of the box” phrase (nod nod nod)? For creativity, there are almost interesting things that happen when you are being “creative inside the box” (I made that one up) — when you find a creative way to tell a story in a limited expression form, say the keys on your keyboard.

Now the example above really does not fall into that, because what makes it work as much as anything is the live performance. I’m interested in collecting some more things like this, one might chalk ASCII art (now I am showing my generational colors).

The Flickr Tell a Story in Five Frames or Six Word Stories count (all of which nudged me to create the Five Card Stories site).

Help me out! Give me some more things that demonstrate creativity within a constrained tool set.

If this kind of stuff has value, please support me by tossing a one time PayPal kibble or monthly on Patreon
Become a patron at Patreon!
Profile Picture for CogDog The Blog
An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. I love this post. I get reamed so many times for telling people to do the best with what they have, even if it’s an LMS. In a world where our abundance is quickly shrinking, we all need to develop the skills to make the most with what we have. I love the idea of “creative inside the box.” It’s sticky. Let’s move it forward.

  2. Love this post, Alan and the idea of being creative with what we have. Too often, we want to “throw the baby out with the bath water” and dump a current system entirely in favor of something new and different. Great to see what people can do with the tools we have.

  3. @Jen: Thanks! and I agree. When I was at Maricopa I remembered the complaints about the CMS-es (there were 3 or 4 in use, another story), of which many were well placed, but I thought that someone creatively could subvert it with creative content. They were used rather shoddily as giant buckets of files rather than a linked environment.

    Hey, and thanks also for the link to Think Inside the Box – perfect! I am thus going to start tagging related things in delicious as insidethebox

    Will anyone play tag with me? I hate lonely tagging.

  4. (listen) There’s some interesting conversation in this SXSW podcast on design inspiration that echos the idea that restraints promote creativity.

    Not to be “that guy” but I wrote something about using 6 word stories and Dan Meyer’s 4 slide sales pitch that might be of interest to you.

    The SXSW idea of battledecks also really appeals to me. Jim Groom managed to get them to do it at the last UMW get together and it was great. I’d love to do it in a class. Oddly, I ended up finding out about battledecks from this image

    If I were to think old school, I’d say that most of the older poetic forms (haiku, sonnets, etc.) get at this same idea of restriction in a variety of ways.

  5. No worries, Tom, I fixed ’em. Thanks for the links. I was envious to not have seen the Battledecks at Faculty Academy… I am likely to steal that idea!

    I attended SXSW last year and got more ideas for conferences and creativity than any other event.

  6. I’m trying to decide if I can pull that off (the economy isn’t helping me).

    I’ve been wanting to go to SXSW for the last few years.

    I like the idea of being on the edge of interesting things outside of education and then thinking of ways to apply them. Rather than watching the rehash of things from w/in education or from vendors which is mainly what I see at conferences like NECC.

    I might have to call on you as a witness for the educational legitimacy of my plan! 🙂

  7. I have to say “hear, hear” to Jen’s comment. I am always working to find ways and help my faculty find ways to stretch their creativity within the confines of our given systems – content management, course management, what have you.

    This just fits right in line with Daniel Pink’s take in A Whole New Mind. As Jen says, we need to foster the skills of creativity, a healthy curiosity and willingness to explore then share our explorations with others.

    Sometimes putting a limit on yourself spurs a new fit of creativity. We are all familiar with the Project 365 of posting a photo a day. I completed that project a few years ago and found that it really did make me a much better photographer because I had to work within my rather small environment to find new and interesting photo subjects as opposed to being on vacation somewhere exotic where all was new and different and ready to a subject for my photography. I truly admire the fellow who limited himself even further and allowed himself to only take one photo a day while he was on an extensive hike…on the Appalachian Trail, I think. I cannot imagine how he was able to decide when to take that one shot and then not worry that he might have “wasted” it when something else comes along later that day. But, the limits he set were not confining in the art he created.

    Thinking outside, inside and with the box itself allows you to explore all the angles and find the best way to meet your goals – educational, artistic, productivity, and so on.

  8. Haiku, as mentioned by Tom springs to mind. Always suggested to my students that they keep their video projects within 2 to 3 minutes. Editing down that 10 or so minutes of footage down to 2 minutes generated some reasonably ruthless critical thinking and creativity. I always showed them some television advertisements to get them thinking.

    Twitter forces us to be creative at times.

  9. Pingback: Bookmarks (weekly)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *