Creation in the digital world is justified

A lot of my own life’s energy goes into digital creation (not least of which is my career in software development). Much of my creations are also digital, such as a podcast, and the words you’re reading right now.

I’ve spoken with people before who more valued creating physical stuff (DIY, carpentry or gardening, just to give examples).

In my own view, it’s the creation process itself is the important aspect, and the fact that it’s shareable (as Seth Godin has said, art doesn’t mean much until you share it). If it’s shared digitally, it still interfaces with people’s eyeballs and minds.

In Good Business, author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, gives a “map of everyday experience” (chapter “Flow and Growth”). It’s a framework to understand why you might be bored in one case but in a “flow” in other cases. He contends that you reach flow state only when you’re both reasonably challenged and substantially using your skills, in equal parts. It’s the feeling of flow that’s important, not that you’re writing on paper or digitally.

Physical items might last longer. If there was a widespread war, I suspect much of our digital worlds would fall apart, because we could no longer access digital online assets in other countries. But what good is a piece of DIY you created if your house is bombed by drones, in any case? The argument for physical creations doesn’t win out so much, it’s the fact that you went through the pain and focus and effort of creating them in the first place is what “counts”.