BitDepth 757 - November 16

Notes on the creative process as it flourishes on the Internet. View a vidcast of the presentation here...
Creatively coding for new networks

In the end, bits are fundamentally different from atoms and creative professionals must approach them differently. Image by Mark Lyndersay.

Where do creative minds find purchase in today’s landscape of fracturing consumption? What’s digital thinking in a digital age?
It begins, I think, with a review of first principles and understanding just what creative people do.
Mankind has built modern civilisation on the ability to not just think, but to be able to encode the knowledge created by the best of that thought into media that can be transferred from generation to generation.
In the last century, the cost of sharing that knowledge has dropped precipitously. 

The explosion of information in the last ten years was fuelled not just by the accessibility but also by an intuitive understanding of the possibilities that the open structure of the web enabled.
Virtually from the beginning of the world wide web, ingrained in its DNA was the idea of making information freely available to as many people as possible.
But information on its own isn’t enough. Knowledge improves through interaction and testing, and networks that allow not just access but interaction, comment and review of that information become critical to the process of enhancing the knowledge that constitutes common understanding.

The networks that make access to information so revolutionary have driven a fundamental change in the way we now consider knowledge. At no other time in history was it possible to not just find out virtually anything, but it’s now possible to compare information from multiple sources and review contrary opinions with equal speed.
Any theory or assertion made in the world is now subject to the depth of review formerly reserved for both scholarly dissertations and the passion of rumshop arguments. The result is a plurality of world views that challenge any tendencies toward the insular. The essential democracy of the search engine also makes it difficult for anyone to find what they’re looking for without encountering something that fundamentally disagrees with it.

An abundance of information and ready access to it all creates new challenges for the recipients of all this data. At the crux of the growing issue of new media versus traditional media is the disappearance of the old filters, editors and programme directors that managed the flow of information from source to consumer.
Add to that the death of the cultural campfire, the shared experiences of common reference points such as hit music and televised fiction that provided conversation points in the past.

Increasingly, we no longer listen to the same music, programming our own playlists on iPods or view the same television, with an abundance of channel options and torrent files.
What’s replaced those traditional funnels of information is a curious mix of popularity indicators and instinct. We either look at what’s attracting all the buzz or we find sources of information that seem authentic and real to us. Neither indicator is one that traditional media has proven particularly adept at mining.

The most successful brands on the Internet are those that either provide the outlook of a single person or do the next best thing, create an identity that aggregates enough like minded contributors that they read like the output of a singular outlook.
That’s the straight line connection between popular websites like Rotten Tomatoes and Lifehacker. They manage to curate and present information with a singular focus on their subject area with the kind of clarity that might normally be found in a popular blog.

Creative professionals working in this expanded environment of consumption must be ready to rethink traditional market programming of the past, which essentially discharged media buckshot in the hope of scoring a hit in favour of the patience and meticulous care of the digital sniper.

Related: A vidcast of the somewhat different
Abovegroup presentation is here...
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