“Why I write. I write becauseI can not. I write because I can. I write because of what I see and feel around me. I write because of the people I meet, the stories I hear. I write to understand. I write to relive. I write because there are stories that need to be told. Stories that matter. Stories getting lost in the rapid pace of our everyday. Lost between the real and surreal. The tweets, the updates, the comments, and likes; the videos, images and sound bytes — all immersed in story, yours and mine. Stories not captured or shared. Stories lost to the archive of now. I write to remember. I write to share, to frame the world in words. The precious moments lost in our everyday rush for more now. I write to hold back time. To freeze it. I write to press the stop button on the Internet. The button no one has invented yet. I write to remember. I write to create. I write so we can learn from ourselves and each other. So we can relearn the beauty of lives lived in story.Our lives. I write so I can deconstruct lives lost to technology, stories sidelined to statistics. I write to share, to open eyes, both yours and mine. I write to find. I write to discover. I write to uncover the stages we each stand on and the roles we each play. I write so I can see through the eyes of another and you mine. I write because in writing I am bare down to my soul. I am vulnerable. I write to let go, to change and be changed. I write to unlearn, learn and relearn. I write where I am. I write where I have been. I write so we can see. I write so I can be me.“
Not so long ago, in the mid-2000s, many conversations in offices, schools, and even parties centered around the exciting concept of radical openness made possible by then-new social media. But now, as the 2010s are in full swing and social media are established, dominant platforms, how can we—as designers, strategists, organizations, consumers, and individuals—best harness the widespread acceptance of radical openness? The recent TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, offered a fascinating and widely varied lineup of speakers who, collectively, helped to answer this question. Or at least will help propel the discussion forward, long after the conference ended on June 29.
Four main themes emerged across five days of talks both on the TED stage and impromptu conversations around Edinburgh, among speakers and attendees. From the lips and minds of neuroscientists to educators, artists to activists, musicians to political theorists, the key points to emerge were:
- The act of making is a powerful learning process—for individuals and organizations. Making—as practiced in the truly do-it-yourself sense—can encourage people to better understand how the world works and consequently articulate their needs. (…) Passion is essential, and that’s always been the fuel for the most exciting new objects and ideas.
- Play is a key ingredient to achieve success across nearly any discipline. (…) Educational researcher Beau Lotto said in his talk that the best psychological and other experiments “are games,” essentially. (…)
- The ability to successfully manage change is one of the most valuable new skills for human beings, nations, and businesses to master in coming years. In a world with rapidly changing rules and a dramatically bumpy economy, not merely acknowledging change but learning to practically deal with it will become ever more important. (…) Organizations and individuals reluctant to change from yesterday’s model of protecting intellectual property or keeping information private will struggle, unable to embrace the power of crowds and collective thinking, as Don Tapscott discussed in his talk. - Openness is a starting point, not an end point. While the conference celebrated the promise of radical openness, many speakers discussed that it shouldn’t be merely a noble final goal, but the beginning of an era of constantly improving communication, governance, science, medicine, culture, and business. Openness, many speakers suggested, has always been a human pursuit throughout history, and it has to be carefully analyzed and executed to be fruitful.
“Openness alone can’t drive change,” as Margaret Heffernan, management expert, said. “Constructive conflict is necessary…we must be willing to change our minds.” (…) Opacity, he [design curator Deyan Sudjic] stated, offers a “sense of possibility, with some ambiguity.” Social media guru Clay Shirky weaved in and out of media history to discuss how radically open platforms, including Gutenberg’s printing press, give new voice to the masses—but it’s not always immediately a constructive phenomenon. (…) “More media means more argument,” Shirky also observed, acknowledging that instead of the “world peace” that the telegraph, the radio, and TV promised, the opposite (at least in terms of heated debate) followed nearly every new communications medium of the last century or so. And in a talk that’s likely to be argued in lively debates, filmmaker Kirby Fergusonlikened copying to the act of invention itself, suggesting ideas are meant to be shared, and those that are borrowed often are dubbed the best. Bob Dylan and Steve Jobs, he pointed out, were masters of re-interpreting the ideas of others. “Our creativity comes from without, not from within,” he said—implying creation may just be a team sport.
Here’s a short transcript of Johnson’s ideas on the importance of ‘connectivity’ and ‘creative innovation’.
When you look at the problem of innovation from this perspective, it sheds a lot of important light on the debate we’ve been having recently about what the Internet is doing to our brains. Are we getting overwhelmed with an always connected multitasking lifestyle? And is that going to lead to less sophisticated thoughts as we move away from the slower, deeper, contemplative state of reading for instance? Obviously, I’m a big fan of reading, but I think it’s important to remember that the great driver of scientific innovation and technological innovation has been the historic increase in connectivity. And our ability to reach out and exchange ideas with other people. And to borrow other people’s hunches and combine them with our hunches and turn them in something new. That really has, I think, been - more than anything else - the primary engine of creativity and innovation over the last six hundred years. And so yeas, it’s true we’re more distracted, but what has happened that is really miraculous and marvellous over the last fifteen years is that we have so many new ways to connect and so many new ways to reach out and find other people who have that missing piece that will complete the idea we’re working on. Or to stumble serendipitously across some amazing new piece of information that we can use to build and improve our own ideas. That’s the real lesson of where good ideas come from: the chance favors the connected mind.
The digital revolution of the last decade has unleashed creativity and talent in an unprecedented way, with unlimited opportunities.
But does democratized culture mean better art or is true talent instead drowned out? This is the question addressed by PressPausePlay, a documentary film containing interviews with some of the world’s most influential creators of the digital era.
For once the summary is provided and presented by the author himself…
Central issue: ”Making is connecting. I mean this in three principle ways: (1) Making is connecting because you have to connect things together (materials, ideas, or both) to make something new; (2) Making is connecting because acts of creativity usually involve, at some point, a social dimension and connect us with other people; (3) And making is connecting because through making things and sharing them in the world, we increase our engagement and connection with our social and physical environments.” (DG, p.2) > Everything is … a remix … an experiment… “Typically, people mess around with materials, select things, experimentally put parts together, rearrange, play, throw bits away, and generally manipulate the thing in question until it approaches something that seems to communicate meanings in a satisfying manner.” (DG, p.4)
Observation: ”Thankfully, the World Wide Web soared in popularity, becoming mainstream in itself, and opened up a world of diversity and imagination where the content itself is created by everyday users (as well as a growing number of professionals ). This opportunity to make media and, in particular, share it easily, making connections with others, was unprecedented in both character and scale, and therefore a much more exciting thing to study.” (DG, p.3) > “Instead of individuals tending their own gardens, they come together to work collaboratively in a shared space. This is actually what Tim Berners-Lee had meant his World Wide Web to be like, when he invented it in 1990. He imagined that browsing the Web would be matter of writing and editing, not just searching and reading.” (DG, p.5-6) > Social Media… “Sites such as YouTube, eBay, Facebook, Flickr, Craigslist, and Wikipedia only exist and have value because people use and contribute to them (…).” (DG, p.7)
“Since the historical point at which education became institutionalized in a system of schools, learning has become a process directed by a teacher, whose task is to transfer nuggets of knowledge into young people’s minds. (…) school education has tended to settle around a model where a body of knowledge is input into students, who are tested on their grasp of it at a later point.” (DG, p.8-9)
On creativity: (Csikszentmihalyi) “Rather than being a lightning-bolt of unexpected inspiration, he argues, creative ouputs appear from individuals who have worked hard over many years to master a particular ‘symbolic domain’ (…) and are encouraged by other supportive individuals, groups, and organizations.” (DG, p.14) (DEF) “Creativity, (…) is a process by which a symbolic domain in the culture is changed. (…) creativity results from the interaction of a system composed of three elements: a culture that contains symbolic rules, a person who brings novelty into the symbolic domain, and a field of experts who recognise and validate the innovation. (…) so creative ideas vanish unless there is a receptive audience to record and implement them.” (DG, p.14-15)
… Amongst other things, Gauntlett continues to talk about the benefits for citizenship, social cohesion and social capital.
 Remark: Perhaps it is the other way around, first the uploaders were mainly professionals or semi-professionals… and now with the rise of social media we see more ‘everyday users’ that are becoming uploaders.