Restrictions sprout creativity

Wednesday, 17 Mar 2004

I just came across the quote Limitations are the soil from which creativity grows by Jeffrey Zeldman.

I found it in an older article at the excellent A List Apart webdesign magazine, but it applies to everything which requires creativity. It is easily obvious in programming. The demo scenes for the C64 and Amiga did not reveal their true gems until the respective platform was dead in terms of vendor support, so the hardware stagnated and greater age was no longer an automatic disadvantage for a demo. Coders were forced to come up with new tricks on the existing hardware instead of just following along and utilizing new hardware in more or less obvious ways. On the PC, the development of anything-goes demos really reflects the growth of hardware more than that of those creating within the environment; the truly astonishing feats of new ground broken on the PC emerge from restrictive contests such as 4k and 64k intros. At which point we’ve come full circle, because the above Zeldman quote was a comment on the outcome of the 5k webdesign competition.

It wasn’t news to me, really. I enjoy Perl golf as much consciously as I enjoy it naturally like any hacker would, for this very reason. And that is just the most obvious example.

It is why I strive for minimalism in everything I do.