A formal descriptive theory of software-based creative practice
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Creative artefacts, from concert posters to architectural plans, are often created in entirely software-based workflows. Software tools can be easily made to record all user interactions, thereby capturing the observable part of creative practice. Although recording software-based creative practice is easy, analysing it is much harder. This is especially true if one wishes to analyse the cognitive process that underlies the recorded creative practice. There are currently no clear methods for the analysis of recorded creative practice, nor are there any suitable theories of the cognition underlying creative practice that can serve as the basis for the development of such methods. This thesis develops a formal descriptive theory of the cognition underlying software-based creative practice, with the aim of informing the development of analysis of recorded creative practice. The theory, called the Software-based Creative Practice Framework (SbCPF), fits with extended and predictive views of cognition. It characterises creative practice as a process of iteratively working from an abstract idea to a concrete artefact, whereby the required lowlevel detail to decide on action is imagined in flight, during practice. Furthermore, it argues that this iterative just-in-time imagination is necessary, because of the predictive nature of the mind. The SbCPF was developed through the use of a novel method for the analysis of creative practice displayed in video tutorials. This method is based on Grounded Theory, Rhetorical Structure Theory, Gesture Theory, Category Theory, and a novel taxonomy describing the relation of action to speech. The method is applied to produce a grounded theory of the creative practice of 3D modelling and animation with the Blender software. The grounded theory forms the basis of the aforementioned formal theory. Finally, the formal theory is further illustrated, evaluated, and explored by way of implementing a computational model.
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