The myth of the creative class

As I near the end of writing my book, one lesson that has struck me is about the will of most people to create, and the new possibilities the Google age brings us.

One survey I quote says that 81 percent of us say we have a book in us. Another survey says that a coincidental 81 percent of young people think they have a business in them. We make tens of millions of blogs. We take hundreds of millions of Flickr photos. A few hundred thousand people write applications for Facebook. Paulo Coelho (see the post below) asks his readers to make a movie of his book and they eagerly do so. Stephen Colbert challenges his viewers to remix John McCain and they do. Howard Stern doesn’t even ask his listeners and they produce no end of song parodies and anthems to Baba Booey. The art and entertainment of Lonely Girl 15 becomes not just the videos they make but the videos viewers make. Every minute, 10 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. People create T-shirt designs on Threadless and sneaker designs on Ryz and things of all descriptions on Etsy. BMW invites drivers to color a car and 9,000 people do. And on and on.

This has surely always been the case. The internet doesn’t make us more creative, I don’t think. But it does enable what we create to be seen, heard, and used. It enables every creator to find a public, the public he or she merits. And that takes creation out of the proprietary hands of the supposed creative class.

Internet curmudgeons argue that Google et al are bringing society to ruin precisely because they rob the creative class of its financial support and exclusivity: its pedestal. But internet triumphalists, like me, argue that the internet opens up creativity past one-size-fits-all mass measurements and priestly definitions and lets us not only find what we like but find people who like what we do. The internet kills the mass, once and for all. With it comes the death of mass economics and mass media, but I don’t lament that, not for a moment.

The curmudgeons also argue that this level playing field is flooded with crap: a loss of taste and discrimination. I’ll argue just the opposite: Only the playing field is flat and to stand out one must now do so on merit – as defined by the public rather than the priests – which will be rewarded with links and attention. This is our link economy, our culture of links. It is a meritocracy, only now there are many definitions of merit and each must be earned.

We have believed – I have been taught – that there are two scarcities in society: talent and attention. There are only so many people with talent and we give their talent only so much attention – not enough of either.

But we are shifting, too, from a culture of scarcity to one of abundance. That is the essence of the Google worldview: managing abundance. So let’s assume that instead of a scarcity there is an abundance of talent and a limitless will to create but it has been tamped down by an educational system that insists on sameness; starved by a mass economic system that rewarded only a few giants; and discouraged by a critical system that anointed a closed, small creative class. Now talent of many descriptions and levels can express itself and grow. We want to create and we want to be generous with our creations. And we will get the attention we deserve. That means that crap will be ignored. It just depends on your definition of crap.

This link ecology does potentially change the nature of creativity. It makes it more collaborative, not just in the act but in the inspiration. Coelho’s Witch of Portobello is the spark that leads to a movie made by its readers. Same with Stern, LonelyGirl, Colbert. Perhaps the role of the creative class is not so much to make finished products but to inspire more to be made. It is the flint of creativity. It’s the internet – Google, Flickr, YouTube, and old, mass media as their accessories – that bring flint and spark together.

I’ve long disagreed with those who say that copyright kills creativity, for I do believe that there is no scarcity of inspiration. But I now understand their position better. I also have learned that when creations are restricted it is the creator who suffers more because his creation won’t find its full and true public, its spark finds no kindling, and the fire dies. The creative class, copyright, mass media, and curmudgeonly critics stop what should be a continuing process of creation; like reverse alchemists, they turn abundance into scarcity, gold into lead.

When we talk about the Google age, then, we do talk about a new society and the rules I explore in my book are the rules of that society, built on connections, links, transparency, openness, publicness, listening, trust, wisdom, generosity, efficiency, markets, niches, platforms, networks, speed, and abundance.

I start by talking about business: how all this affects company, industries, and then institutions and how to react and find advantage in this change. But it will also affect life, and that is what I am writing in the last section of the book. I’m doing that starting today so, as always, I’d be grateful for your generous, wise, open, and abundant thoughts on the topic. Thanks.

: Other categories of ideas I think I’m dealing with in this ending on the impact of Google on society: its impact on our relations; on our attitudes, ethics, and skills; on our institutions and organization.

: LATER: In the comments, Sean says I should link to Richard Florida’s books on the creative class. I have to confess that I bought one of them but never got through it. Books are such an echo chamber.

  • Good list:

    “transparency, openness, publicness, listening, trust, wisdom, generosity, efficiency, markets, niches, platforms, networks, speed, and abundance”

    But equally –

    “oligopolies (ISPs), monopolies (Google), destruction of value, vanity, ignoring views that don’t agree with your own, fragmentation, Balkanisation, false hopes, stupidity”

    You get both in the real world. Why do you only mention one?

    Or as I learned on Wikipedia today:

    “Outopia derived from the Greek ‘ou’ for “no” and ‘-topos’ for “place,” a … for “no place” and “good place”

    Oh, and “Publicness” isn’t a word, Jeff.

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  • Steve,

    Yes, I’m choosing to make publicness a word. It’s quite in purpose.

    Sure, there are bad things and I mention those in the book but I see little purpose in focusing on them. The point of my book is to see and take advantage of new opportunities.

    The internet doesn’t cause stupidity. It has been here as long as we have. Vanity? Ditto. Destruction of value? Well, I think it’s often just shifted or left in pockets rather than shared with middlemen; one tends to look at it that was if one is a middleman. Ologopolies? Yes, bad. Google as a monopoly? I fear we’ve allowed them to do that and it’s up to us to compete. Ignoring views that don’t agree with my own? Not me. Thus this.

  • Jeff, I believe that a core concept for understanding the future is “Digital Destroys Scarcity”.

    If true, businesses that relied on scarcity as a source of value must watch their pricing power decline over time. Nearly all content businesses — print media, audio, video, and even the web — fit into this category.

    For most of human history, human beings lived without clocks and without scheduled entertainment. No one talked about “life/work balance” because there was no real separation between the two.

    One could argue that the mass media are an anomaly, created by factory work. The invention of clocks and factories led us to view our life as compartmentalized into scheduled work and scheduled leisure: “it is now prime time. Put down your hammer and watch Ozzie and Harriet”.

    Equally, one could argue that the natural state of human beings is to talk, think, work and creative collaboratively and spontaneously, as the mood strikes us. Perhaps the Internet enables us to work and play the way that’s most natural for us.

    I’m a card-carrying member of the “creative class” — an advertising writer. In my more than 20 years in the business, I have never seen a single powerful idea be generated in a “brainstorming” session. I’ve heard far more stimulating ideas in a single day on Twitter.

    Disciplined processes are essential for most business functions. But they are a disaster for creativity — almost entirely anti-productive.

    Radically opening the marketplace of ideas to everyone on the planet may lower the marketplace value of an individual idea. But the benefits are enormous. What “The Google Age” enables is a massive super-collider for ideas that will generate heat, energy and illumination for the next century.

    I’m an optimist on this subject. I believe human beings are essentially creative creatures: if we can get everybody’s ideas out there we’ll see fantastic things happen.

  • A minor point, but “that bring flint and spark together” doesn’t make sense, and “that bring flint and fuel together” seems more like what you mean.

    A more important point: since the Internet is mainly crap, then “managing abundance” is mainly crap-filtering. And there is still going to be an elite, whether appointed meritoriously or not, that we’ll trust to filter crap for us. I think this represents a tremendous opportunity for the old guard, the MSM.

    The MSM like to think that their stock-in-trade is trust and credibility. Now’s the time to parlay that into something useful for crap-filtering. If they would reprinting AP press releases, which does nothing but plug up Google news results, and link to the original reporting and other good reporting, we would all be better served – including the AP, as I argue here. And we might continue to trust what we find on MSM websites.

    On the other hand if they continue to be nothing but content whores, rushing to be first paste up press releases and newswire copy, without doing their own fact-checking, causing duplicate content all over the place, adding nothing original to the story and multiplying errors, they will get what they deserve.

    Never mind copyright issues. Even when copyright is freely granted or sold, it should be a cardinal sin to duplicate content without adding anything new – even comment or opinion or clarification or minor correction. AP and any other press service should not be permitted to sell the rights to duplicate content. It just bungs things up, and is antiquated. Instead of copyright, let’s worry about anti-copy obligation.

  • jef


    the dark side of the long tail of attention is the balkanization – even pulverization – of counterculture. the status quo gets to anoint a few talented amateurs as their heirs apparent, playing the same roles they played as major labels cherrypicking indie rock in 1994.

    this is a society stupid enough to forget that their democracy is a sham because everyone has shiny new digital media devices plugged into all of their friends. and so we march obliviously into war with iran because the tyranny that approaches isn’t as INTERESTING as all of these microcelebrities our friends are turning into, and basically no one can be bothered until it’s INTERESTING, which means we say “whatever” just as we always have, only this time we’re distracted by internet entrepreneurs and wannabe talents instead of “professionals in hollywood”. we’re paying attention RANDOMLY and what hope is there for a serious counterculture under these circumstances ?

  • Typo above…the old guard should STOP reprinting AP press releases, of course.

  • Tom,
    Wonderfully said. Yes, that idea of the scarcity economy yielding to the abundance economy is central to what I”m writing, especially around media. I’d be curious what you think the Google age does to advertising – beyond the obvious of Google’s own advertising business. When direct connections can be made, isn’t advertising a middleman (and the internet abhors middlemen)? With every direct connection to the information we want about a product or a customer who tells us what we need to know, doesn’t that eliminate another dollar of advertising?

  • Tim,

    Yeah, I knew I was heading into metaphoric trouble. Couldn’t let me slide, could you…

    I think you’re looking at this in a somewhat glass-half-full way. It’s the old-media conceit that we could package the world and make it look done and pretty with a bow on top. That makes anything that isn’t packaged and pretty crap. So I’d counsel turning that view around and say that the value we can add is not just crap filtering – and, yes, that is a role and a value – but also being a platform to help creation, to help make it better, to educate, the provide better tools that turn out better whittling. We pretty much agree, I think, but I say there is a need to look at the positive acts of helping creation over just the acts of curation and filtering.

  • Jef,

    I’d say you sound more like the hippy, just a grumpy one.

  • Crawford

    Andy Warhol would be proud.

  • Jeff, thanks for responding to my response. :)

    Sure, I understand that there’s two sides to it, that MSMs should become enablers (by opening up APIs, e.g., that’s what you mean by platforms) but I am focusing on the other half: MSMs can make room for themselves in the link economy by getting jiggy with the Internet and how it works – by being responsible, proficient, and trustworthy in their handling of non-original content. Even Google depends on other sites to do this properly so their own curation and trust-ranking can have some value. As yet, MSM’s failure to do so indicates a lack of the fundamentals.

    I find it irksome that newspapers are concentrating on fancy crap like video when they don’t even have the basics down.

  • First off, “publicness” is a great word, and I’m going to start using it this morning. (With attribution….)

    The tension really is about scarcity/abundance –I’m a writer and producer in Hollywood, and the old model of scarcity kept my fees nicely stratospheric. Movies and TV shows made their money by controlling access — even in reruns, you had to watch channel 5 (or 11 or 13 or whatever) to watch a “The Simpsons” rerun. But with instant access to everything, all the time, where-ever you live, those big fat margins have been squeezed pretty tight. You can’t sell a movie or a TV show 200 times to 200 TV markets. It’s just there, on the web. I have friends in the music business, and what they say is that the real implosion in their profits came when storewidth zoomed up: if you can have instant access to everything in your collection, anytime, easily — without having to get up and search through the CD rack, or refill the changer — well, then all of your music competes with all of your other music for playing.

    And that spells opportunity. Which — and full disclosure: I’m an optimist, firmly — is extremely cool and will result (is resulting now!) in a full-scale disruption of the old way of doing business: the gatekeepers have a lot less power (they’re tasked now with finding talent, sourcing projects from places like the web, rather than coming up with them) and people like me simply have to do better and better — after all, we’re competing with everyone now. Not just our little clique in the 310 area code.

    I gave a speech last week to some aspiring writers and producers. I told them that there has never been a better time to get into the entertainment business: opportunity and possibilities are everywhere. And it’s a great time to have been in the entertainment business for a while, to have some money in the bank, to be able to explore what the web has to offer. But it’s a lousy, nasty time to be in the middle: to have been working for 10 years, enough time to buy an expensive house and have kids in private school, and to be suddenly facing a margin squeeze.

  • Rob,

    Well put and I say the same thing to journalism students (and to those who say I’m corrupting them by luring them into what appears to be – but, of course, is not – a dying business).

    Yes, the internet abhors middlemen.

    (So were you at cheers at the same time with friend Graver? And how come your blog’s empty? Or is that the joke: Thoughts on media above an empty white box?)

  • I was indeed at Cheers with Fred. He and I are still in touch, after all those years…..

    And the blog, well, that’s a bit of a saga. It was attacked by some kind of virus (thanks, WordPress!) and so I had to call in some help. It’s been swept clean, and redesigned, and I’ll begin posting in 36 hours…

    (Although I like your idea: lots of empty space under a giant heading that reads, “My Big Thoughts…)

  • Jeff,

    Really interesting post / chapter! Looking forward to the full book.

    Small point, I think you should reference Richard Florida if you are actually going to use the term “creative class.” (disclosure: we used to do a lot of work together when we were at CMU) I think referencing his work will give this some context for readers and potentially also help you set the stage a little more.

    – Sean

  • Oh, and I got publicness – like interestingness – from Caterina Fake, ex of Flickr. She talked about defaulting to public and its impact on the service and the behavior of its members.

  • Jeff,

    Great post.

    In your vision of everybody creating stuff and the good stuff becoming popular, I think there is a need for universal subject based and people based organization of content.

    Such a system would make it easier to identify the good stuff from the crap and free the creative talent from the limits and constraints of big sites. These big sites have all the power in the google based economy. E.g. users can comment on an NYT page but because the site happens to be NYT which has a great Page Rank in the google world, the users comment made in text only would get more views than anything else that a user has done. On the other hand a crappy comment likely gets the same number of views without consideration to who the commenter is, what their reputation is. These flaws in the current system disincentives the right kind of participation and creativity.

    We need a better way to provide all the tools and incentives to individuals to be as creative as possible and a people based organization is a way to achieve that…Perhaps web 3.0 :-) ?

    Thanks, Jitendra

  • jmohr

    …as long as your ISP is wicked fast and that server has space

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  • it is all just consciousness in action …

  • I use this variation of Warhol: On the internet everyone will be famous to 15 people.

    Right now having your work seen by others is still a novelty. I wonder what will happen when it becomes routine? The blogosphere is still predicated on the idea that many will contribute to discussions (or create their own web sites) for free. If one knows that hardly any of your efforts will be seen by anyone will this continue?

    Alternatively, everyone will try to pile in to the most popular spots since the audience is there. One can see what this may turn into at a site like DailyKos. There are so many comments and diaries posted that most don’t get much traffic even though the site as a whole does.

    Sunday painters haven’t disappeared but their expectations are rather modest. Perhaps most of the internet will turn into personalized chat groups, the modern equivalent of the coffee klatch or gossiping over the back fence. People’s capacity to chat with friends seems unlimited.

  • I’m sure you’ll have this but just in case:

    Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

    Whilst we shouldn’t rely upon schools to ‘teach’ creativity, it’s important rules, regulations and systems don’t strangle creative thoughts and ideas.

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  • Jeff this is a great post. Happily, thanks to the forces you are describing, content folks don’t even have to *convince* anybody that you are right about the forces of change sweeping through the creative ecosystem.

    Old models are – usually a bit too slowly for me – breaking up and drifting away, replaced by oceans of new content that for the most part will be sorted out by far more democratic processes than old content, and more importantly by *niche based* processing which will lead to far more information “win win” arrangements.

  • Really good post Jeff. I’ve been researching trends in communications and media for some years now and I view the Social Web as the most significant social development since urbanisation.

    Here is a link to my last blog post – I wonder if it will help re your last chapter

    Best wishes

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  • Curious to see “Books are such an echo chamber” in a post that’s all about the book you’re writing.

    Anyway, yes, agreed, that creativity is not limited to a creative class. But there’s a certain luxury in being able to think this this way, one borne of class and context and education. Doing these “creative” things are influenced class / education / context / exposure / community and so on. All are not equal in these areas — let alone talent, inspiration and drive (which you allude to) .

  • It seems to me that, while scarcity of attention hasn’t changed (and can’t change), we are in the midst of a struggle over how that attention is divvied up. The early technology of mass media and globalization gave this zero-sum game a winner-take-all flavor–and it’s still the case that our attention is concentrated on the work of very few creators.

    But the possibility for change is there now. We are seeing lots more people expressing their creativity. But will the attention follow? That is the question of our era, and I hope you answer it in the book. :-)

  • Most people are stupid, and the Googlenet hasn’t changed that. The wisdom of crowds isn’t wise, it tends to the lowest common denominator. You don’t get popularity in the Googlenet by saying things that are intelligent or insightful, you do by showing naked women in various states of compromise and by inflaming the emotions in other equally manipulative ways. So when you say:

    “The curmudgeons also argue that this level playing field is flooded with crap: a loss of taste and discrimination. I’ll argue just the opposite: Only the playing field is flat and to stand out one must now do so on merit – as defined by the public rather than the priests – which will be rewarded with links and attention. This is our link economy, our culture of links. It is a meritocracy, only now there are many definitions of merit and each must be earned.”

    …you’re simply ignoring these truths of human nature. The link economy isn’t about “merit;” people link indiscriminately to things that made them laugh, get sexually aroused, pissed off, or confused.

    You know better, but you’re thinking “Richard is just being a curmudgeon again.” Maybe I am, but that doesn’t mean I’m not speaking truth to conformity.

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  • Hi Jeff,

    Regarding your comment to Mssr Cunniff: “When direct connections can be made, isn’t advertising a middleman (and the internet abhors middlemen)? With every direct connection to the information we want about a product or a customer who tells us what we need to know, doesn’t that eliminate another dollar of advertising?”

    I think you’re giving an awful lot of credit to companies in general to absorb and react to customers telling them what they need to know. Customers for years have been telling companies what they need to know; it’s only recently that companies have started to set-up ‘listening departments’ or ‘conversation departments,’ etc., to constructively listen and respond (or develop innovative products as a result). But as Damon Wayans said at this year’s AdAge Digital conference: “if you take too much feedback you’ll wind up with feathered fish” (paraphrased, but feathered fish comment was definitely his).

    When group of people A (the talkers) tell companies what they want (the listeners), and companies produce what group A wants, there will be a whole set of other people (group A’) who may have attributes (be they demographic, psychographic or the like) like the people in group A who told the company what they wanted. Advertising then becomes a way in which the masses are informed of what the classes participated in the creation of.

    The Internet is the information superhighway, but that doesn’t mean that the highway doesn’t need occasional rest stops to be exposed to new things (re: advertising…advertainment) or a way to change wheels (re: online sponsored utilities).

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  • Pretty much have to agree with Bennett. Here on the lands surrounding my farm there are mounds left by paleolithic people. Stone points turn up in my field that were crafted when mastodons walked beside the receding glaciers. The mounds often signify some cultural intention… some are shaped like animals, some are hemispheric burial sites, skeletons and artifacts have been found in these mounds dating back 10,000 years.

    But there are also middens. You can tell a lot about people by their garbage, of course; but the fact that they dumped all their shells, table scraps and camp detritus in a pile downwind from the campsite doesn’t make those midden piles any more than garbage dumps.

    I leave it to you to distinguish between the mounds and the middens on the net.

    I’m not denying that we’re in the midst of a media revolution. I recognize that old models have been disrupted and there are a lot more points of entry for media creation and distribution. But the opportunity of the net doesn’t bequeath talent. It simply provides broader access.

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  • Yeah, we know, Bennett and grumpy friends- you had to hike over both Everest AND K2 to and from school every day.

    Yep – people ARE human and often fail at what they do, like Dell, Jobs and Woz, and Bill Gates in their first companies. But, that doesn’t keep the Internet from lowering barriers. Yep, some people STILL won’t make it doing fun things they want to do and plenty of enterprises will continue to fail. BUT! MORE people do try and succeed or fail faster and more easily. That also allows faster learning how to it right. And more fun is had along the way.

    You don’t get popularity in the Googlenet by saying things that are intelligent or insightful, you do by showing naked women in various states of compromise

    Not QUITE right. You get popularity by being a woman in a sexy pose, saying intelligent things. Just like your generation used those sexy dinosaur poses for marketing (I notice you survived). Or be a smart or controversial blogger (just like the newspapers and TV, eh?). Where’s the problem?

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  • Vada

    Please choose a publisher for your book that shares your digital enlightenment. The way Free Press handled Matt Mason’s “The Pirate’s Dilemma” is evidence they “get it”.

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  • Richard,

    If I go to Google and search “Central Casting curmudgeon,” who comes up higher: Nick Carr, Andrew Keen, or you?

  • “Sure, there are bad things and I mention those in the book but I see little purpose in focusing on them. The point of my book is to see and take advantage of new opportunities. ”

    You can’t truly take advantage of new opportunities unless you also understand the pitfalls, Jeff. By not focusing on the pitfalls as was the positives, you’re in danger of not presenting a true picture to your audience.

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  • And, of course, by not responding to Richard’s susbtantive points, and once again rolling out the “you’re just a curmudgeon” excuse for not doing so, you’re doing yourself and your readers a disservice. Come on, Jeff – you’re better than that.

  • I find your views to be beautifully liberating. If it is like you say, the forces against this development will be strong. Maybe the resistance from the privileged few will increase?

    Anyway, a great post and I’am looking forward to reading the book.

  • fantastic post jeff. I am squarely in your camp. i realize that there is a strong and growing chorus of naysayers. I think this will be a debate that is going to get louder in the coming years. and i am seeing some suggest the economic downturn we are in is a result of the damage google and the “freetards” have done to the economy.

  • I actually did google that phrase, Jeff, and you came up higher than any of us. Try it yourself: That’s the wisdom of the crowd.

    But seriously, dude, I get your populist, man-of-the-people, “everything I know I learned from watching TV” schtick, but you’re trying to have it both ways. The Googlenet makes it possible for every Tom, Dick, and Harriet to have a voice, but it doesn’t make them any smarter, just louder. Googlenet doesn’t separate the wheat from the chaff, it gives us a little more wheat at the expense of a lot more chaff.

    Until the link economy can develop the ability to discriminate, our culture will be no better off than it was in bad old days before Larry and Sergey hired Eric to schmooze with Vernon and get their way with Kevin.

    That’s reality.

  • great piece … we too often ignore *luck* (even that which we make ourselves) trust, confidence & hindsight … even creativity rests on the shoulders of giants …

  • oh forgot, look forward to reading the book!

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  • Let me try restating my point in light of the later comments. As Richard said, “Googlenet” makes it possible for every Tom, Dick, and Harriet to have a voice. It also makes it possible, in principle, for us to listen to a far greater variety of voices than ever before.

    But will we? Despite the millions of creators out there, it’s hardly clear that they are significantly diversifying the way people distribute attention. This doesn’t necessarily imply a scarcity of creativity, but it may mean that we’re simply not ready to support an attention economy that leverages the abundance of creativity.

  • Crawford

    My kids don’t know from the old rules of gatekeeping and tastemaking.
    To them the web is just all content. What’s good use consumed and appreciated.
    What isn’t, is rejected. They are smarter, better read, more worldly than I was at their age. Their kids will continue the evolution.
    Where’s my sweater?

  • Ian,
    There are plenty of people — Keen, Carr, et al — focusing on the curmudgeonly warnings about Google.
    The focus of my book is to accept the critical presence of Google and then to ask what a wise company, institution, or individual should do about that to take advantage of it. My book is about action, not fawning or hand-wringing, though it is clearly positive.
    As for Richard… well, I knew that he — unlike perhaps some others around here (cough) — has a sense of humor.

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  • I think another way of looking at this is Editorial Creativity and Media Literacy. People who do journalism need to be encouraged to be as diverse as possible in their working lives to match the diverse interests of the public. And the public needs greater media literacy: the ability to understand and create their own journalism. This won’t just happen through the market. It needs business investment and state educational support.
    As you know, Jeff, it’s all in that book Supermedia!
    Charlie Beckett (LSE)

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  • Jeff, you might find this interview with the CEO of Itsy interesting. Rob talks about marketplaces as communities — in the olden days you went to the marketplace to see things you’ve never seen before, to find a wife, to get the news of the day. It was the place to trade and barter.

    The concept is not far off from what I’ve written before about digital enabling a return to “campfire media” — media on a very human scale, personal and as much about community and communication.

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  • Yes we live in an an age of abundance – but surely also an age of scarcity of time, energy, water, healthcare, good education?

    The true test of the Google age will be whether it can produce solutions to those fundamental issues rather than the crowdsourcing of a car colour.

  • John,
    Amen, but I wouldn’t say it is either/or. Google itself is working on energy and health care and I’d say they help with education. Time? Even they can’t do much about that. But they do make us more efficient, no?

  • SecondSelf

    The “crap will be ignored” and the good stuff will be copied…

    Ignoring the crap is only half the problem. The other half of the problem is making sure there are enough people motivated to do the hard work of writing the good stuff.

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  • I too, thought the headline was misleading. Expecting you to debate the theories and models presented in Richard Florida’s books on the rise and fall of The Creative Class. Maybe you should have snuck the phrase “Long tail” in there too. Might help the old SEO a bit.

    “Hildi, get me rewrite!”

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  • Meghan

    “books are such an echo chamber”…

    That’s really unfortunate view. And it shows in your writing, as it is quite difficult to have an intelligent conversation on the Creative Class when you don’t know who you are referencing- Richard Florida, the man who came up with the concept.

    Interestingly enough, Florida may not totally disagree with some of your views, but too bad you did not take into account a person whose done decades of research on the subject before forming an opinion.

    That’s the problem with the internet- its a dearth of unfounded opinion, lack of actual information. The echo chamber is actually this posting- someone talking just to hear themselves speak.

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  • Creativity and the creative ones amongst us have always been considered of a frivilous nature. Creating is a luxury really. Who has the time for such hare-brained ideas when one has to work. I’ve seen all the TED talks listed here by the commenters about the lack of creativity in our American school system. The best line repeated in the TED talks to come out of a kids mouth was about the picture she was drawing of God. The teacher says “But nobody knows what God looks like” and the child replies “They will when I’m done this drawing this” just about says it all. It’s hilarious! Out of the mouths of kids.
    It’s the abstract that we create in. Therein lies the key to the new Media, The Creative Class and hopefully making some righteous from our creations. In any case, sometimes it is just the passion that makes us do what we do. If only money was the by-product of the Creative Class I think we’d all be happier campers.

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  • Mmm. Interesting stuff. I realize I’m a bit late to the party but I thought I’d toss in my two cents:

    If you make something, but anyone can copy it, means you’re gonna have a really tough time making any money from it, and since you still need money to buy food, shelter, clothing, etc, it’s going to destroy all sorts of economies. I fear that going forward, people/micro celebrities will have to stay below a certain size otherwise they could become a target of piracy and lose much of their ability to make money from their creations, when they can be replicated for very little.

    What that means is that people who want to make money have to enforce some sort of artificial sort of scarcity so that they can still profit from their work. That’s where copyright comes in, it gives people who’s work has a physical value of very little (even Sheakespeare’s writings are nothing by scratches on paper).

    It reminds me of one of the earliest film makers, Melies I think, he made A Trip to the Moon, and never made much from it because pirates copied his film (including Edison–famous man but really quite a jerk).

    All in all, I’d say that while very cool: mating a world of abundance with a world of scarcity is and will remain a challenge. Artists may get to share their works with teh world for very little, but they still need to eat. If/when technology further reduces the costs of physical needs, then we’ll really see an amazing world.

  • Betti

    Dear Jeff, I think I will get your book and hope to have time to read it. You see, I spend 10 hours a day working in front of a screen. I work in the business of communication. The clients I deal with are mostly fashion and accessories brand. I also work for the entertaining business and all this means that all they long I spend my time creating visuals that inspire desire for unnecessary objects, or hype around pop songs and their ego maniac performers. My day is completely absorbed by the job of being creative (another word for selling) for people who create themselves. Your article on the subject of pop (popular) creative drive is both fascinating and at the same time minifying. That everybody has art in themselves and they have a damn right to express it anyway they can, I agree with you. Is there any better way than Internet to touch as many people as possible? My question is: When do I find the time to read your book (or any book) if I am so busy with the digital landscape out there? Do I need to sacrify my sleeping hours in order to be part of this marvelous opportunity out there? How many hours do we spend working (and I mean working, not browsing), how many hours do we spend enjoying other people creativity? How many hours do we spend surfing the net for information? Don’t you think that alongside talking about all this wonderful, amazing digital opportunities, we should also spend a little time thinking about the effects of all this on our brain, meaning sanity? Dont’ take me wrong, I love google generation, I don’t even remember how life and friendship and love affairs, and information, and entertainment, and research, used to happen anymore. I consult the web even for recipes on stuffed zucchini or where moth come from or how to get rid of them. It’s instant, it’s amazingly useful. But don’t you think that alongside the business side of internet, the social usefulness, the blah blah amzingness of it all, some words should be spent on how faster is the technology compared to how we adapt to it. I mean as people. I feel the need of wise words on this subject, I hope your book will touch this issue. Hopefully I can schedule to read it by year 2010.

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  • I absolutely agree. i.e. I post my illustrations on Flickr, as do tons of others, and while there are sub-par works galore, there are so many illustrators/artiss whose works are just astonishingly novel or beautiful or both. It is inspiring. And yes, the elite emerge with their devoted comment-ers and favorite’rs.

  • Perhaps everyone is making too much of this.

    We are all “creative.” Just witness a child at play — every single one of them is creative and imaginative.

    A question: What happens to that creativity and imagination as we grow up? One answer: it is repressed, first by our parents, then by our schools, and finally by our work-a-day lives. Your answer?

    Another question: Is every creative act worth saving? An answer: history, not us, will show whether our creative acts today are worth considering tomorrow. Your answer?

    There is nothing we can do about history — it is littered with the forgotten and unrecorded. That doesn’t mean that our creative acts today are meaningless, it only fulfills the aphorism, “Time edits with a heavy hand.”

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  • Phillius Thomas

    I felt that the creative class gave us custom vinyl decal in Minnesota, did they not?

  • Dane Kimball

    I wish that I were a creative person. I really admire artists because they create things that I could never create. I have tried to create cool things but they don’t come out as I plan.

  • Jason Knight

    I haven’t actually made anything cool in quite a while. I will have to look into app building to see if it is something that I can do. It would be awesome to make some camping/outdoors apps.


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