Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 November 2005
Studies of creativity have tended to focus on isolated individuals, under the assumption that it can be defined as a characteristic of an extraordinary person, product, or process. Existing computational models of creative behavior have inherited this emphasis on independent generative processes. However, an increasing multidisciplinary consensus regards creativity as a systems property, and extends the focus of inquiry to include the interaction between generative individuals and evaluative social groups. To acknowledge the complementarity of evaluative processes by social groups, experts, and peers, this paper presents experimentation with a framework of design as a social activity. This model is used to inspect phenomena associated with creativity in the interaction between designers and their societies. In particular, this paper describes the strength of social ties as a mechanism of social organization, and explores its potential relation to creativity in a computational social simulation. These experiments illustrate ways in which the role of designers as change agents of their societies can be largely determined by how the evaluating group self-organizes over time. A key potential implication is that the isolated characteristics of designers may be insufficient to formulate conclusions about the nature and effects of their behavior. Instead, causality could be attributed to situational factors that define the relationship between designers and their evaluators.