Being creative

The discussion started with a tweet:

From that tweet, Jeremy and I had a brief twitter-chat about what he meant by creativity? I said the proliferation of photos, tweets, blogs and other things showed a huge outpouring of creativity. He took the view that this type of output wasn’t really creative.

(I hope I haven’t put false words into Jeremy’s tweets here. You can follow the trail of the conversation to see if I’ve represented him fairly.)

The debate boils down to what can be considered creative? And what does ‘creativity’ really mean in the modern social media world?

Is every Instagram-filtered photograph an example of creativity? If not, then which, if any, are? Does it have to use certain filters, be perfectly framed, and taken by someone already with a photographic reputation?

Or does using Instagram as a platform instantly mean a work can be dismissed as non-creative?

Thinking about this leads onto another question: Who gets to decide what is creative, and what is not?

In some ways it reminds me of the arguments over high culture, and low culture. Is Mozart objectively better than One Direction? Ask someone of 41 and they may say Mozart. Ask a 14-year old girl and it’s probably One Direction every time.

For me, the decision of whether something is great or not, or even creative or not, comes down to the individual. That which I find derivative, another may consider to have climbed the heights of culture.

We shouldn’t sit in judgement on others. We shouldn’t make decisions on what constitutes creativity. Everything can be creative to someone.

The internet has removed many barriers of entry for people. Deciding who gets to create things is no longer down to who went to art school, or film school, or studied creative writing.

Those of us with access to the technology, can create what we wish. And those without access will hopefully become part of this fabulous creative democracy as technology extends across the globe.

As for who decides what is creative and what is not, here too, we see the democratisation of culture. In the past it was reviewers and the press who raised particular creative works above others, now we all get a vote.

Currently we do it through ‘likes’, retweets, or other forms of social sharing. With what our own little enclaves of society choose to reward rising to the top.

This review process will evolve with technology. I know enough about social-tech predictions not to predict what it will evolve into, I’m just looking forward to finding out.


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