Creativity for the Connected Age

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Tools of the Creative Class

Historically, each wave of technological innovation has provided new, empowering tools for creative expression. These innovations typically disrupt the market in tow major ways: they provide new ways to create and also help advance the dissemination of creative ideas and materials. 

The current digital era provides an array of creative tools, unleashing a generation of creative entrepreneurs capable of making and marketing nearly anything — all on their own.

We live in an era where an answer to any question is a simple Google search away. YouTube videos, Khan Academy tutorials, and Skillshare classes give individuals access to a wealth of free or inexpensive information. These platforms create a DIY ethos, empowering individuals to teach themselves rather than rely on formalized institutions.

Free online services, creative suites, open APIs, and 3D printing also empower individuals, giving them the education, knowledge, and tools needed to disrupt existing industries. Thanks to these new tools, individuals can do the work entire agencies and businesses used to do—in less time and capital and with more creativity. These tools create new efficiencies and capabilities: online services like Google Docs enable collaboration, creative suites like Adobe Creative Cloud enable anyone to design, open APIs enable users to connect to various services, and 3D printers allow anyone to create a prototype in hours rather than wait weeks for a model from an outside organization.

The basic building blocks for digital services and physical products have become so evolved, ubiquitous, and cheap that they can be easily combined and recombined. Google’s Chief Economist Hal Varian calls this “combinatorial innovation.”

These creative entrepreneurs, known as the creative class, have been heralded for their potential to change the operation of businesses and even cities. The idea, introduced by Richard Florida, was that rather than peddle to Wall Street, cities that appealed to the creative class could trigger a widespread urban revival.

 

HOW NEW TECHNOLOGY DISRUPTS OLD INDUSTRIES

I need to create my product…

Publishing:
From using paid tools like Microsoft Office to create word documents, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations to performing the same actions collaboratively in Google Docs.

Designing:
From buying creative suites on CDs to paying for a subscription-based digital services like Adobe Creative Cloud.

Coding:
From studying complex programming languages at a university to quickly learning the basics with Code Academy or Scratch—or copying short snippets with Ruby on Rails.

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I need to develop my business…

Raising Capital:
From raising funds for an idea with a VC firm or getting a bank loan to crowdsourcing funds through Kickstarter.

Forming Partnerships:
From forming strategic alliances with complementary companies to leveraging open APIs to connect one service to another.

Developing Products:
From contracting a design agency to concept a product to simply pressing print for a working prototype with a MakerBot 3D printer.

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I need to sell my idea…
Distribution:
From hiring a developer who can create a website for selling my product or service to creating one personally in minutes with Squarespace.

Marketing:
From hiring an advertising agency to promote my product or service to marketing them myself on social networks like Facebook or Twitter.

Payments:
From using an expensive credit card processing machine to taking payments easily with Square.