The Importance of Feedback for Creativity

Bret Victor focused his recent presentation at CUSEC on what he calls “inventing on principle.” Much of the early part of his presentation is fantastic walkthrough of a coding environment he has developed which allows programmers to see the result of code changes immediately and even interactively — in fact, what’s most fascinating is how his initial impulse to “close up” the feedback loop between the writing of code and its compilation actually led him to innovate the environment in really amazing ways.

His principle: “creators need to be able to see what they are doing.” It seems pretty straightforward, but realizing it, say, in how we might teach better, is harder. I’m especially struck by the importance of the tight feedback loop that Victor emphasizes and a recent conversation I had with Sarah Spell about things happening in UL’s Industrial Design department.