Templates are the most efficient way to kill creativity in your organisation. Templates are not just the pro-formas of conformity, they are intended to provide creative boundaries in individual communication. In a world dominated by rapid change, templates offer languishing conformity. Office automation was the playground of templates. Powerpoint being the master template of all templates. You can buy thousands of templates from Office Works on CD-Rom (remember those) and when opening Word Processor documents you are prompted to choose a template. Before we offer up an new idea, we have to make a decision to use or not to use, to conform or rebel, to be guided or to be free. We create ‘visual’ templates, such as the one above. Blue and Yellow (the colours of friendly efficiency) mapped into a ‘global’ image of high-tech happy students, clutching knowledge. Our use of templates leads to constrained thinking. There are many ‘tools’ out there that promote new ways to organise information.
The corporate voice is giving way to the individual. The template is now ‘architecture’ – to create infrastucture and building tools that used to be the domain of expert programmers; web developers; engineers and media barons. They allow us to leap-frog the intellectual chasm between non-experts and experts. We don’t need our ‘amateur’ work graphically corporatised to speak with compliant tones or to remove our own identities in favour of the corporate persona. The templates of Web2.0 allow us to be individuals, using and adapting technologies to suit our own individual ideas and ways we like to communicate them.
Templates are allowing us to rapidly develop new information that are sharp and tasty ways to communicate in online spaces – they are ‘kick starters’ that we immediately customise and adapt. Spaces such as Second Life, where we un-template our avatar, a blog where we experiment with writing … all activities that are oppositional to template thinking which leads to tedious, uninspiring, unmotivating, congenial and unemotional ideas. When you think of educational communication in schools – think about the times that you have been most inspired … because of a tasty idea not a bland proposition? Templates are designed to de-flavour and de-individualise … yummy ideas presented in flavoursome ways are what we need in education I think.