Elon University

The 2004 Survey: Prediction on creativity

Responses in reaction to the following statement were assembled from a select group of 1,286 Internet stakeholders in the fall 2004 Pew Internet & American Life Predictions Survey. The survey allowed respondents to select from the choices “agree,” “disagree” or “I challenge” the predictive statement. Some respondents chose to expand on their answer, writing an explanation of their position; many did not. Some respondents chose to identify themselves with each answer; many did not. We share some – not all – of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents whose reactions are listed below are attributed here only for the purpose of indicating a level of internet expertise; the statements reflect personal viewpoints and do not represent their companies’ or government agencies’ policies or positions. Some answers have been edited in order to share more respondents’ replies. Below is a selection of the many carefully considered responses to the following statement.

Pervasive high-speed information networks will usher in an age of creativity in which people use the internet to collaborate with others and take advantage of digital libraries to make more music, art and literature. A large body of independently-produced creative works will be freely circulated online and will command widespread attention from the public.

Compiled reactions from the 1,286 respondents:
  54% of internet experts agreed
  18% disagreed
  9% challenged the prediction
  20% did not respond

That’s a nice way of putting it. I don’t know that we’ll have a “creativity society,” but there will be more opportunity for bottom-up media creations. – Douglas Rushkoff, author/ New York University Interactive Telecommunications Program

I agree, but there is a serious risk from over-protection of intellectual property. – Peter Levine, University of Maryland

Only if we can resolve the current differences between those who wish a return (including academic recognition) from past creativity and those who wish to build on the creativity of the past. – Philip Virgo, secretary general for EURIM – UK-based Parliament Industry Group/IMIS – UK-based professional body for management of information systems

I don’t think the internet helps art that much. Great art tends to be the product of individuals rather than groups, even when people are in immediate proximity. The one exception, here, is computer gaming; some of which will begin to deserve the term art by 2014. – Gordon Strause, Judy’s Book, a social-networking website

This is a “should” that probably won’t happen for reasons I outline in my book “Future Shop” (St. Martin’s Press). – J.H. Snider, author of “Future Shop” and a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation

The creative already create. There might be some more collaboration in certain areas, but the Internet cannot change a person’s native talents and interests. – Jonathan Band, partner, Morrison and Foerster LLP (law firm)

The standards of accuracy are under assult from the opinion-based nature of blogs and chat. In a new Internet version of Gresham’s Law, interesting assertions are driving out informed assertions. A review of my recent book had six factual errors in one page: the reviewer had only written for blogs before. – Barry Wellman, University of Toronto

The digital medium simply allows far more creative collaboration because manipulation of bits and bytes, as well as their dissemination is far easier. – Jonathan Peizer, CTO, Open Society Institute

The more there is out there, the more important “branded” things become. There is no way for an individual to sift through millions of songs or art files, as a result we will increasingly rely on the “critics” as gatekeepers, or less appealingly, the record labels and TV moguls as gatekeepers. While there will undoubtedly be an increase in independent works, most of this will be “vanity work, and command little public attention. After all, what good is watching television if you can’t talk about it at the water cooler the next day. Part of the purpose of arts and entertainment is to provide a common cultural bond. – Vikram Mangalmurti, Carnegie Mellon University

Predictions of a new age of creativity driven by the Internet are no more likely to come to pass, then similar predictions made in the early years of television. – Jorge Reina Schement, Penn State University

I do think this will happen. Applications like Garage Band, when networked, will make artistic collaboration as commonplace as literary collaboration became with the advent of email. – Kevin Featherly, news editor, Healthcare Informatics, McGraw-Hill

I have great faith in the creative spirit, but art is ultimately a product in our society, and what we have is a dis-integrating marketplace (one that actually militates against integration). The proliferation of media is also a fragmentation of taste and interest, one we already see in the music market, the TV audience, and so on. – George Otte, technology expert

More and more searchable pools of amateur music and art and writing will emerge. But it will still be hard to get attention – the desire for a shared, numbing, pulsing branded experience will continue to overwhelm. – Susan Crawford, fellow with the Center for Democracy & Technology and also with the Yale Law School Information Society Project

Mainstream publishers will decline in importance. – David M. Scott, Freshspot Marketing/EContent Magazine

I do not believe that a large public will attend to the new art. Rather, the Internet will function like a big city in which avant-garde and strange arts and events can do well because the large population produces the critical mass necessary to sustain them. – Stanley Chodorow, University of California at San Diego/Council on Library and Information Resources

Strongly agree here. The greatest effect the internet will have is similar to the effect the printing press had. That is, it will be the secondary and self-perpetuating changes in culture. We are used to seeing tinkerers and amateurs playing an important role at the outset of new technologies, but the internet has enabled this kind of amateurism at a much broader and later stage of development. Along with new forms of work and social organization that favor individual creativity, I think we are on the cusp of a new creative renaissance. – A. Halavais, State University of New York at Buffalo

This is already happening, with greater opportunities for collaboration and sharing of information. – Gary Kreps, George Mason University

I could agree to this prediction with caveats or disagree with reservations. The tools will make this possible and many will take advantage of it, just as they already are with digital photos, making collages, etc. and sending them around to family and friends. But very little will get the key “widespread” attention from the public. Creativity at that level is not a common attribute. Materials that will attract a mass audience will still be quite finite, due to time and cost. These networks will remove some institutional barriers, but it will be analogous to authors today who self-publish – a few get attention and “break out.”But most stay obscure not due to inability to publish but because they are not of mass-market (widespread) caliber. – Benjamin M. Compaine, communications policy expert, editor of “The Digital Divide: Facing a Crisis or Creating a Myth?” and co-author of “Who Owns the Media?”

Creative people will be creative on this medium; some others may find it who would not have – others will just use it the way they are using it now. – Cynthia Samuels, Center for American Progress (think tank)

Not in ten years. I also note that the sciences are not included in the prediction. Creativity is not solely confined to people that call themselves artists. – Robert Lunn, FocalPoint Analytics/USC Digital Future Project

I don’t think that the Internet will prompt more individuals to be creative. Rather, it provides a new medium and outlet for those already bent on creative expression. – Michelle Manafy, editor, Information Today Inc./EContent magazine and Intranets newsletter

Independent works will be freely circulated, but I don’t think they will command widespread attention from the public. – Joo-Young Jung, University of Tokyo

Certainly, my own work celebrates the explosion of grassroots creativity we are seeing as a result of new media tools, new channels of distribution, new modes of expression, and new communities for collaboration. Yet, I can’t overlook the serious legal battles over copyright that are taking place, which seem to be working desperately to contain grassroots creativity. People are fighting for their right to participate in their culture and to make use of the core materials of their heritage. The outcome of those struggles will define the kind of culture we live in much more than technological changes will. – Harry Jenkins, MIT Comparative Media Studies, author of “Convergence Culture”

Collaboration will be widespread but not universal. The biggest challenge is the business model: creativity for its own sake or for money? Social values will affect this process. Also production values! Will viewers want to see homemade programs that look or sound less slick? Yes, some will want such authenticity. – Gary Arlen, Arlen Communications

It’s all true, except to say that the ”body of independently-produced creative works” will comand widespread attention, but only a small proportion of the individual works within that body will break through to the masses of people the way that the most popular of mass media regularly hits tens of millions of people today. – Peter Eckart, Hull House Association

I think the ”age of creativity” is already upon us, in the sense of a flood of a huge variety of material of hugely varying quality. Things will still be like that ten years from now. What and where the really good and/or popular stuff is coming from will depend on other factors besides technology. – Tom Streeter, University of Vermont

Most people are just busy living their lives and wont have the time to either produce or consume this ”creativity.” – Rob Atkinson, Progressive Policy Institute (think tank)

Unless you solve the fair use aspects of online copyright this prediction will not happen. Today Big Media owns the debate, the lawmakers, and the technology companies. Until someone champions fair use online with equal ferocity so that solutions can be worked out to benefit all parties, there will not be enough material online to make your prediction happen. The other issue is cost. If Big Media wins the argument, even the incremental cost to buy access to materials needed to foster creativity will be a barrier to your prediction. Money will limit things, not the creativity of the creators. – Tim Slavin, ReachCustomersOnline.com

Technology doesn’t automatically create creative works, although it will enable more individuals to create. The largest portion will be experimental and considered sub-standard, much as today’s blogs and personal websites are today. Still, there will be an incremental increase. – Dan Ness, MetaFacts

Unfortunately a lot of work that is termed creative really isn’t. It will be easier to bad work and good work. The amount of good creative work produced by human beings has held a relatively even output over the course of history. It’s about people’s brains and spirits, not about the tools. – Oren Schlieman, InfoGrafik Inc.

This is true today. In literature, the blog has recreated the old French salon. But more intriguing to me, representational art is also benefitting. Some years ago I made a strong and heartfelt prediction that online, 3D virtual-reality, shared spaces would be slow to be adopted because almost no one in our society grows up with the sort of artistic training needed to build attractive spaces. Then “Second Life” came along, and brother, was I wrong. Even though public art education is so bad that it makes those who complain about education in the sciences look like a bunch of whiners, the stuff built by ”the commons” in “Second Life” is a complete knockout. “Snow Crash”, here we come. – Mike O’Brien, The Aerospace Corporation

Look at all the creative, high-impact, citizen produced stuff that is coming out of this 2004 Presidential Election. It’s enlightening, funny, maddening. Everything creative work should be. – Leonard Witt, PJNet.org

Creativity is a function of inspiration and ability. Most folk will not become more creative b/c they have faster networks. They will become more informed though. And may virtually visit places where creative outputs are stored. – B. Keith Fulton, Verizon Communications

The loss of the intellectual commons has been sped by the growth of the nets, though not driven by it. The increasing legal standing of corporations as persons has been far more significant. However, I think it is more likely that these corporate forces will figure out how to inhibit and profit from the flow of information than that it will become freer. The last line of the prediction is especially problematic. Iterativity is the essential ingredient for a creative product to command widespread attention. Corporations are likely to continue to be the ones with the capacity to bombard the citizenship with repeated exposure to a cultural product. – Alec MacLeod, California Institute of Integral Studies

Oh well, everyone will be creative and nobody will read it or watch it. If freely available work gets the kind of distribution that challenges media company profits, then it will probably be crushed in some way. How do the freely available people raise the money for their projects, how do they get the projects out from the morass of other projects? – Jon Marshall, University of Technology, Sydney

And the following are from predictors who chose to remain anonymous: [Workplaces of respondents whose reactions are listed below include RAND, Microsoft, Internet2, MIT, University of San Diego, University of Minnesota, United Kingdom Department of Trade & Industry, Columbia Law School, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Carnegie Mellon, Penn State, Proteus Foundation, Northwestern University, University of California at Berkeley, Hewlett Packard, Knight Foundation, North Carolina State University, AT&T, American University, Gartner, University of Southern California, Consumer Reports WebWatch, France Telecom, University of York and others.]

Much as the word-processor made it possible for anyone to make crap look good, so the Internet makes it easy to distribute crap. Widespread attention will continue to be given to quality, and the internet will not create talent. If anything it will make the good stuff harder to find in the sea of crap.

The barrier will be copyright issues. Much creativity comes by building on prior work. The current trend in technology and law is to make that increasingly difficult. I see that as seriously impeding this vision.

I think people will have more access to other works, but I question whether that necessarily leads to greater creativity (or merely more highly derivative and not very imaginative work).

The playground will be open. This is one of the most exciting aspects of the network space.

An “Age of creativity” is too much to hope for.

The internet lowers the threshold for participation in these activities and unlocks creativity that people never knew existed, or had access to.

Don’t expect human behavior to change fundamentally. More people will take advantage of digital libraries and online cultural resources, but the increase will not be dramatic.

It happened with the printing press and the PC and is already happening online. New literacies and new means of distribution mean new outlets for the boundless human urge to create and share creations. Business models are another question.

I think that most people will still consume media in a largely passive way (or interactive only in form of playing videogames).

Maybe. In the end the creative process still requires money (funding) to cycle through it. It remains to be seen whether or not artists would be willing to contribute their independent works to a collaborative commons without a mechanism to be paid. Moreover, the copyright law is still relevant and would need to be addressed in some way.

As governments cut back on expenditures, libraries will be defunded. Media conglomerates will extend copyrights to preclude their property moving into the public domain. The public will spend more and more of its time consuming media experiences, rather than creating their own.

I agree with much of the statement until the last phrase. Widespread attention is less likely because there will be more works in circulation.

Creativity does not depend upon the Internet. It depends upon creative people.

Creativity won’t be changed by more people and groups spending more time together.

Modern art was largely spurred by a reaction to photography. Artists adapt to new media, and will adapt to the Internet.

It all depends on the IP laws and how they change (or not).

I agree with this as long as we keep our expectations in check with respect to how many people will be creating inventive works and how many will be paying attention. There is little evidence that the public at large, en masse, is likely to be attracted to “creative works.” Look at “reality TV.” There will be strong subcultures of gifted artists and probably larger audiences for the work, but the public in general is not likely to be much more enlightened than it is now.

We simply cannot predict trends in creativity. I think new forms of creativity will emerge, but will there be “more” or “less” of it or will it be “better” than what’s been done in the past? I think there will be more opportunities for marginalized artists (and non-professionals) to promote their work, but that doesn’t mean anyone will want it.

Zipf’s law indicates that only a small percentage of material created will be of widespread interest. All societies have more readers than writers.

These products, while likely, will not compete with corporate-generated content. That is a shame, but I think it is true.

The prediction is part correct. The creativity will flourish and there will be collaborative creative products that will circulate widely, but they will not command widespread attention of the public, which will still focus on the products of large studios/conglomerates who will dominate through advertising and marketing power.

It won’t make people more creative, or give them more time to be creative.

There will be several high-profile activities like this, and lots of people who find ways to take what they find around the internet and bring it to their worlds of action. Some of what they bring will be fallacious, hurtful and dangerous, much will be benign, some will be truly wondrous, but all on a local scale.

The library and the museum become worldwide as access to these continues to go on line. I do wonder, though, who is going to pay for the museum itself.

I agree with everything except the digital libraries part; because of increased lock down of copyrighted images it is very dangerous to assume that the creativity though possible will be legal. The Gray album proved to us that technology can not shut down distribution of this type of creativity, nor can it ensure that creators are compensated for their labor. It did ensure that the works created and desired by the public to be created were illegal.

The technology will be there, and a few people will use it in the way described; but most will remain relatively passive consumers.

Lots will get created, but most will be ignored. Production values (as in today’s games and movies) will continue to escalate so as to keep most such creations in the realm of “folk art.”

I don’t think we have any evidence of this right now and fears about copyright issues with stifle innovation and creativity.

I wish. You wish. But people tend to collaborate on more banal things – games, listening to music. The creative process is still often very private. Maybe by 2024.

Sorry, this just seems too pie-in-the-sky. Some people will utilize the creative potential of the internet in these ways, but the general public is unlikely to be elevated to a more creative level, or to appreciate independent work.

Humanity has had books for hundreds of years, but does not have universal literacy. Creativity may bloom but that does not mean it will be seen or appreciated by all.

This is already happening. – The response of many anonymous participants

Music, art and literature. Yeah, right. The only thing broadband will bring to the public is uncensored reality schlock shows and porn.

The internet contributes to a high level of conformity, shared images, shared information, and does not promote novelty or creativity in the manner suggested.

Copyright law will squash many attempts to do this. And most Americans won’t use these technologies to be creative, but to make money and sell useless crap.

Absolutely. Already in play and more will evolve…one of the greatest legacy of the Internet. We just have to use it wisely.

It’s happening now, and will only increase as kids who have grown up with technology naturally make it part of their creative work.

The sheer volume of data on the Internet creates too much information overload. Ushering in an age of creativity? No, just providing new avenues for some to do independent productions.

These exist now and haven’t stimulated creativity, as we know it. It is the sensory visualization of things, e.g., theatre, architecture, etc., that still remain real and in need of human interaction. The Internet is a secondary surrogate used when you can’t be there in person.

This presupposes that digital libraries will be created to support art, music, and literature. That is NOT where the money is going for digital libraries. In fact, the money for digital libraries has largely dried up in the wake of funding for ”security.” Moreover, if ”a large body of independently-produced creative works” is present in the Internet, then tools will need to be created to provide better organization for the Internet or the public will not be able to locate such works quickly or easily. Getting 30,000 hits doesn’t make it easy to find something that interests you.

It will be free and fee. Creativity (if we can get out of our own way). Distribution (circulated online and off). Attention (increasingly fragmented – lots of small audiences). Emergence (memes will travel from the edge to the center of culture and society quicker). Public attention will be a distraction. Everything but news. Me, me, me. The commercial becomes personal. The personal becomes cultural. We keep spiraling. The age of creativity is required across all disciplines and especially among art, science and culture. If not, we are doomed as a civilization. The technical must become human. Techne should be understood as the act of bringing something into the world: a human process. Creativity, e.g. adaptation and survival of the species, is dependant on the linkage of art and science and culture. Religion: not too sure what to say about that. I studied with Gilder and West and Chapman at Discovery.org. Intelligent Design?

Again, while the means are available, you cannot influence a person’s creativity or intent. In some ways, technology may inhibit those who are not comfortable with it.

There has always been, in every medium, a body of independently produced creative work. It gets public attention to the extent anyone knows about it. The Internet overcomes the simple problem of disseminating information, but it vastly increases the problem of overcoming information clutter and overload. Marketing and publicity remain critical, whether provided by today’s record labels, by a completely altruistic co-op of like-minded artists, or anything in between.

More works created hardly means the same thing as more creativity.

I sit on the board of a cable TV station and this is the focus of our current strategic planning. We envision interaction and incubation of digital artists and entrepreneurs.

If the idea is that the age-old formula can somehow be modified so that people don’t need a profit and promotional incentive to create works that achieve real distribution, then this prediction is wrong. There will always be financial struggle in producing something that requires artistic investment. The idea that improved networks will somehow lick this divide is not necessarily the case. However it will probably make the overall market a little better for independents. Remains to be seen … How long did it take for publishing to go from Gutenberg to Random House (corporate consolidation)? That’s the question you ought to consider.

Already happening. The success of the movie ”Sky Captain” based on a Mac-made prototype e-mailed around Hollywood … people making small films with home software and putting them on iMovie, etc.

Creativity yields little interest from normal people only to intellectuals. The center of the population is driven to fashionnable products and sports.

Enclaves of artists will collaborate and their work will command attention from the small group of people who follow highbrow arts.