maker | designer | educator

Oblique Strategies Deck

I made this javascript deck of Brian Eno & Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies I-IV (171 cards) as a web tool for my Proseminar I course for Educational Computing, Design, and Online Learning. It’s hosted on my home VPS. I wanted to make a tool that was portable (and didn’t rely on proprietary software), able to be easily viewed on any device, and lightweight. Since it’s only text based, it’s also fully accessible and readable using screenreaders. At some point in the future I’d like to have one that has audio read by a person when the card shows up, because even though screen reading tech has come a long way, it’s still not ideal.

Eno and Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies have been used by visual and performance artists of all varieties to help get them out of creative ruts, as prompts or limitations for new work, or as challenges for solving a specific problem. Furthermore they are not a static object, but have been added to by Eno and others for decades, and the original physical sets included blank cards for the user to write their own prompts on.

I find them useful any time where you are required to do something creative: whether that’s for writing in an English class, coming up with new ideas for research topics, or working on a sculpture/painting/drawing. It gives you some way to work around getting stuck.

This could be used in an online class to help spur creative thinking. It’s very open-ended, so it can be used in many different ways.

  • A teacher could instruct students to use it when they get stuck on an assignment.
  • A teacher could use it as a journaling or sketching prompt for process work.
  • The code is so simple that a teacher could have the class add to the one I’ve created and then upload it to a class website, or have the students make their own.

Basically, it’s a creativity tool that can be used or altered by anyone.

Here’s what Eno said about it:
“The Oblique Strategies evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation – particularly in studios – tended to make me quickly forget that there were others ways of working and that there were tangential ways of attacking problems that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach. If you’re in a panic, you tend to take the head-on approach because it seems to be the one that’s going to yield the best results Of course, that often isn’t the case – it’s just the most obvious and – apparently – reliable method. The function of the Oblique Strategies was, initially, to serve as a series of prompts which said, ‘Don’t forget that you could adopt *this* attitude,’ or ‘Don’t forget you could adopt *that* attitude.’”

I will say that it’s currently in a rough draft state. I have plans to improve how it looks and functions.

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