In-the-know musicians and creative types have been singing the praises of Oblique Strategies since the original deck came out in the 1975 when Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt first collaborated on the unique set of inspiring, philosophical quotes with an initial edition of just 500 sets of business card sized notes.
The purpose of the quotes is to promote creativity — especially in situations of "worthwhile dilemma." Meaning if you feel creatively stuck in the sound studio or in front of a blank canvas, whip out a card and put the strategy to use.
The original editions are notoriously difficult (and expensive) to get your hands on. So creative technophiles have found ways to share the cards meaning in other ways. First, through applets and java script programs online and now, through an Oblique Strategy app for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
The Strategies are equal parts I-Ching, Inspirational Quotes and Yoda with a splash of Magic 8 Ball. Phrases include things like "Is it really a mistake?" "What would your closest friend do?" and "Make what's perfect more human." Depending on the user, the Strategies can be seen as a guide for living or fun motivational distraction.
The iPhone version of Oblique Strategies maintains the simplicity of the original cards, which were white with black text for the guiding text and black with white text on the back. The App features a black screen with author credits and plain black text on a white screen for the Strategy.
The Oblique Strategy app is also simple to use. 1) Tap to turn the card over and reveal the text. 2) Be Inspired. 3) Double Tap to reveal a new card. *Access the options through the information icon to switch between editions.
As happy as I am to have the Oblique Strategies available to take with me everywhere I go, there are few things I'd like to see in future updates. It would be nice to be able to swipe or shake to move onto the next card. I'd also like to be able to get strategies from all 5 versions at the same time rather than having to choose just one.
Also the original Oblique Strategies came with 4-5 blank cards so that the owner could add their own strategy thereby making the set more personal. I'd love to see something like that built into the app — perhaps with the ability to email strategies to a friend as well.
Oblique Strategies is a good virtual version of an existing tangible product. Anyone not lucky enough to have a copy of the first four editions — and that's most of us — can happily enjoy the creative stimulation provided by the strategies. And if you like the iphone app enough to want more, you can still buy the 5th edition for a reasonable price at Brian Eno's Official Store.