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"Make" vs. "Create"

Posted 01-14-2008 at 04:09 PM by Doug Nelson

This is not a semantic discussion, so negative brownie points to the first commenter who quotes a dictionary. This is philosophy, so get out your pointy hat.

Can you sense the difference in nuance between "make" and "create"?

I seem to regularly get into discussions about this, and they seem to be accelerating, so I thought I'd poke a pin in it and post this here for open discourse.

IMO, if you are responding to someone else's idea, synthesizing concepts you did not originate, or just in general offering a variation or improvement on something someone else has done, you are making something, not creating anything.

In my view, creating is a superset of making, where you make something without external reference.

Of course, some pedant will point out that there will always be some sort of external reference, as even the most creative writer will not invent paper, ink, or the language they write in. Ditto for pigment and canvas, bits and discs, etc. And I'll grant that, while simultaneously making covert rude gestures at said pedant.

But somewhere along a continuum comes a point where we stop merely decorating or elaborating upon something that came before and bring something new into existence. And that is the point where "making" becomes "creating".

I know lots of makers, I'm surrounded by them in fact, on several fronts. But I can count the creators I regularly interact with without resorting to double digits. And I'm thankful that I know so many makers, and the world would be a poorer place without even a single one of them, but every blessed one of them considers themself a creator, and that causes me pain.

I considered myself a creator at one time, but adding time's perspective shows me that I was simply shifting red to blue, or changing key, and thinking it was new. But it wasn't new, only different.
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  1. Old Comment
    CJ Swartz's Avatar
    I realized at an early age that I was an "adapter" rather than a creator. Creators amaze me, because I have no way of understanding how they do it. Adapting what someone else has created can take skill, and can be important, but is never as amazing to me as seeing a true creation.
    Posted 01-15-2008 at 12:26 AM by CJ Swartz CJ Swartz is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Janet Petty's Avatar
    Short and sweet comment. And coming from wordy ol' me, that's saying something.

    I make a loaf of bread. I make a batch of soap. I create (weave) a rug. I create the thread for that rug.

    The difference?

    I assemble ingredients for soap and bread then put them together in a specific manner so that their components are able to interact in a way so as to produce a finished, nature-defined product.

    With weaving and spinning, the components are waiting for the artist, me, to define the end product.

    Posted 01-16-2008 at 06:43 AM by Janet Petty Janet Petty is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Create, Make.


    Creating would be producing something out of total nothingness. We're all creators in many ways.

    And the definition of make is well explained by you. Over at my workplace in Marcus Evans, all of us are trying to be creators.
    Posted 05-25-2009 at 03:03 AM by nzhind nzhind is offline

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