Computing As A Creative Activity and Computational Artifacts

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Chapter Overview

A computational artifact is anything created by a human using a computer. An artifact can be, but is not limited to, a program, image, audio, video, presentation, or web page file.

Computing enables people to use creative development processes when using computing tools and techniques to create computational artifacts for creative expression of ideas or to solve a problem. A creative process in the development of a computational artifact can include, but is not limited to, employing non-traditional, non-prescribed techniques, such as using programming to create art using random generation of color; the use of novel combinations of artifacts, tools and techniques - such as combining sounds from a synthesizer and animations from a program to create video; and the exploration of personal curiosities, such as creating a simulation of football play to test its effectiveness. Creating computational artifacts employs an iterative (trying things multiple times) and often exploratory process to translate ideas into tangible form. Creative expressions in a computational artifact can reflect personal expressions of ideas or interests, such as collecting images that you like to make a collage image.

Creating computational artifacts requires understanding and using software tools, such as video editing software, and services such as the Google Search Engine. Other computing tools and techniques that are used to create computational artifacts include, but are not limited to, programming Interactive Development Environments (IDEs), spreadsheets, 3D printers, and text editors/word processors.

A creative development process for creating computational artifacts can be used to solve problems when traditional or prescribed computing techniques are not effective. For instance, if a video editor cannot create the sound track that you have in mind, you can use better audio tools to create the sound and then import it into the video editor. As another example: if doing financial calculations for your company is too tedious using an Excel spreadsheet, you can program Excel using macros to perform the calculations that your company needs.

Computation facilitates the creation and modification of computational artifacts with enhanced detail and precision. For instance, you can important images from digital camera to a tool such as Photoshop or Pixlr to crop the image and apply filters to sharpen it.

Creating computational artifacts can be done by combining and modifying existing artifacts or by creating new artifacts. Combining or modifying existing artifacts can show personal expression of ideas. For instance, creating a web page typically involves combining text you've written, images, video, animation, links, etc. to create an artifact (the web page).

A collaboratively created computational artifact reflects effort by more than one person. Effective collaborative teams consider the use of online collaborative tools, such as Google Drive/Google Docs. Effective collaborative teams practice interpersonal communication, consensus building, conflict resolution, and negotiation. Effective collaboration strategies enhance performance. Collaboration facilitates multiple perspectives in developing computational artifacts, including diversity of social–cultural perspectives, talents, and skills that a partner or teammate can offer. For instance, a team collaborating on a web page design can utilize artists, programmers, and writers to lend different expertise. A collaboratively created computational artifact can reflect personal expressions of ideas.


The context in which an artifact is used determines the correctness, usability, functionality and suitability of the artifact. For instance, a beautiful soothing jazz audio file may not be a suitable audio track for a video about an exciting sports play. A computational artifact may have weaknesses, mistakes, or errors depending on the type of artifact. For instance, a spreadsheet may have incorrect mathematics employed in calculations. The functionality of a computational artifact may be related to how it is used or how it is perceived; for instance, the functionality of humor page for teenagers may not achieve humor when presented to elderly people. The suitability (or appropriateness) of a computational artifact may be related to how it is used or how it is perceived.

Computing can extend traditional forms of human expression and experience. Creating digital effects, images, audio, video, and animations has transformed industries, such as the movie industry which now includes animation in most movies, and teaching which is using more and more video and online resources.

Meta Data

Metadata (also Meta data) is data about data, that is information about other information. Computational artifacts such as documents, images, video, sound files, and web pages almost always contain meta data. That is, the bits that represent the artifact also include bits that represent information about the artifact. For instance, in addition to the displayed content of a Word document, Microsoft Word also includes in the document file the date it was last modified, the number of words, the number of characters, the owner of the software, and with certain features enabled even a history of all edits made to the document. A digital image usually contains EXIF or other standard meta data that has information about the type of camera used, when the image was recorded, and even the GPS coordinates of where it was recorded, among other things. Web page creators can place information in the head of the web page that isn't displayed on the page but is part of the web page file - information like copyright notices and search engine keywords. Although the meta data is typically not visible in normal use of the artifact, people can extract an artifact's meta data with tools For instance, Word allows you to view the meta data in a Word document as a menu feature in Word, and free online meta data viewers allow you to upload images and have the image's meta data displayed back you on the web site.


Parts of this page are based on information from: Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia