Creative Scrape: An Inspiration Utility

I hate feed readers. The idea for creativescrape was midwifed by that hate (a fiery, passionate hate it is).

Like email, feed readers are almost exclusively uniform—and uniformly bad. They try to make everything in the world fit into the same mold, however cramped and unpleasant it may be.

As developers we naturally find this kind of pure, perfect abstract to be intellectually orgasmic, but as designers we must naturally find it impractical and even repugnant.

creative scrape

Thomas and I planned out creativescrape and it took us a longer than a day in terms of calendar days to finish it, but I doubt the time, thus divided, added up to more than two “man” days total.

(My belief in small projects? Still going strong. They’re a release valve, gratification, practice opportunity, test of theory and self-promotion all wrapped up in one. Just fucking ship, indeed.)


  1. Jake says:

    "As developers we naturally find this kind of pure, perfect abstract to be intellectually orgasmic, but as designers we must naturally find it impractical and even repugnant."

    I’m struggling to find a connection to RSS readers or e-mail. RSS and e-mail are both highly personal applications and thus much more ‘beautiful’ and ‘creative’ than a preselected bunch of cliche flickr images. I think your assumption that inspiration only comes from visual images is incorrect. I would be much more inspired by an e-mail from a friend or an interesting blog post in my feed reader than graphic muzak.

  2. Amy says:

    Hi Jake. You completely misunderstand me.

    For one, email clients and feed readers are not "highly personal." Every single email client and all feed reader software I have ever seen have the same exact set of functionality and overall design (email & feed reader clients also look remarkably like each other, and are sometimes one and the same).

    The content might be highly personal, but the software hasn’t advanced in the past 20, 25 years. See this article I wrote on this very topic for .net magazine. Your ability to create special rules does not custom software make.

    Now, for your other assertion: I’m not claiming only pictures are inspiring. I also find suboptimal ("crappy") software to be incredibly inspiring (among other things). Most things made do not fit the purpose for which they are made – most software doesn’t even look as if the underlying purpose is understood, much less attempted.

    I’m a designer (in every meaning of that overused word). I like pictures. I also read more books than anyone else I know, listen to and create music, and write words and code. I find software interesting for philosophical reasons.

    By building an application that does one thing really well, I’m proving that software that exploits a natural, given technology don’t have to suck.

    BTW, you should look at another small project of ours: Twistori

  3. Jake says:

    Twistori is really great.

    I agree with your points I just don’t see how creative scrape addresses or solves any of the problems with RSS or e-mail, that was the disconnect.

  4. Amy says:

    Jake, I suspect that if you had a bunch of design blog feeds in your regular feed reader, and tons of Flickr sets bookmarked (no way to favorite OR subscribe to them) as I do, you’d immediately get it 🙂 To each his or her own!

    Regular RSS readers barely manage to squeak by, functionally speaking, with content where the main focus is text. When it comes to highly graphical stuff they’re useless.

    Just like email is horrible for conducting business or transferring files.

  5. Amy says:

    I mean email clients. Email itself is just a medium.

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