Adam Savage @ #SXSW2014: Combining artistic and scientific skills for today’s digital world

With issues like information privacy and big data understanding featuring heavily on the SXSW conference agenda, it became increasingly clear that effective practitioners in today’s digital world need a mix of both artistic and scientific sensibilities. Adam Savage (from TV’s Mythbusters) delivered a passionate SXSW keynote, pushing against our frequent art and science fall-backs (e.g. art – I don’t know art, but I know what I like, science – I’m not that good with numbers) and asking us to discover the inherent complexities and creativity within both disciplines, to drive information discovery.

From his own experience “mythbusting”, he spoke of scientific method and design in an artistic framework – A platform where he uses scientific knowledge and understanding as the foundation for creative thinking.

“More scientists than artists understand how science is creative,” he said. Linking the lateral, big-picture thinking required to get the scientific method right in research or experimentation to creative exploration in art, Savage argued for the value of both disciplines (and their frequently unrecognised similarities).

Yet he also recognised the challenges of scientific “creativity”: “Seventy-five percent of the way into any project I’m doing, I will think, ‘this is total crap, I don’t know what I’m doing.’ I know I have to push past this,” he said.

He argued that we need to take this critical insight into our everyday lives, and challenge the information we consume: “We owe it ourselves to educate ourselves, instead of just reading the headlines on Reddit and thinking we understand, which I am totally guilty of,” he said. In an age where getting information first is seemingly more valuable than ensuring the facts are right, Savage’s thoughtful consideration of the way we find and uncover information was a necessary addition to the Interactive conference.

View Adam Savage’s keynote and share your thoughts in the comments below – Are the worlds of art and science in conflict or complimentary for you?

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