This thesis is particularly concerned with everyday creativity as a social practice that is taking place within the digital environment. Web 2.0 made it much easier for laypersons to produce and publish digital content and to participate in online communities. Through participation community members can acquire domain-relevant knowledge as well as develop their digital competency. In some areas, online communities of highly motivated amateurs (Pro-Ams) work to professional standards and even achieve better results than their professional colleagues. Open Source software projects or Wikis are among areas that rely on committed amateurs and the strength of a community.
The empirical stage of the research comprises two studies that aim to investigate the role of ICT and the Internet in everyday creative activities and how the use of digital tools for creativity can be facilitated and improved. An exploratory online survey revealed that the majority of participants are involved in everyday creative activities many of which are performed with the use of digital tools. However, the lack of digital competency and skills has been proved to be among the main barriers to using software tools for everyday creativity and participation in the digital environment.
Taking into account the survey data that revealed digital photo-editing and manipulation to be the most popular creative activity among participants, a powerful, free, image-editing program - the GIMP - was chosen for the experiment. A group of people with no professional knowledge of using image editing programs participated in a single-day workshop where they learned how to do basic image processing with a free software editor, the GIMP. Data collection methods involved questionnaires, observation and follow-up telephone interviews. The GIMP tutorial and practice session proved to be successful in engaging non-professionals in image manipulation with the GIMP and facilitating further use and learning through individual effort.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.