We Think: Why Mass Creativity is the Next Big Thing

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We Think: Why Mass Creativity is the Next Big Thing es un libro de Charles Leadbeater. Edición digital en http://www.wethinkthebook.net/

In his book ‘We Think: why mass creativity is the next big thing’ Charles Leadbeater argues that networked groups of citizens working together in the development of products and services are able to profoundly alter current modes of organization and by doing so will alter (media) culture forever.

Before delving deeper into this claim let me make clear that I agree with Leadbeater on two counts. Firstly, mass collaboration involving both mass creativity and mass participation has proven itself, at very least, to be a powerful force behind online information sharing. Wikipedia for instance is in my opinion the best invention since sliced bread.

The collective and altruistic input of thousands of users who add to the popular online encyclopedia is astonishing but singling out Wikipedia as an example makes it seem as if every initiative involving mass creativity is in line with this encyclopedia’s non-profit, highly disciplined structure. As a researcher, Wikipedia has become an extremely valuable tool. Many entries may be far from perfect, biased or plain erroneous, however I could not envision my academic life without it as a tool for cultural research. Secondly, it is undeniable that the web has fundamentally changed the way information is produced, distributed and consumed. Leadbeater lectures and writes about mass creativity as integral to his vision of the future.

A vision and that is largely, if not solely, based on observations drawn from today’s digital culture. In this essay I will draw on those same examples to arrive at a slightly different vision of the future.

So far mass creativity is shaping up to be the proverbial exception to the rule. It seems that actually only a small minority of people, whether they dig(g) a story on Digg.com or write an entry for Wikipedia.com, are actively participating. The few (academic) studies written on this subject all point towards largely idle groups watching the efforts of a few enthusiasts. Those that do become ‘users’ or ‘creators’ rather than ‘consumers’, participate in varying degrees. Consider Digg.com.

According to the English Wikipedia entry Digg.com is, ‘a community-based popularity website on technology and science articles, recently expanding to a broader range of categories such as politics and entertainment. It combines social bookmarking, blogging, and syndication with a form of non-hierarchical, democratic editorial control.’ Looking at Digg.com the variation of creativity and activity occurs between the minor act of ‘digging’ a story, digging a comment (on a ‘digged’ story) or actually producing a story to add to Digg.com.