Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Wed Aug 13th 2008 at 1:21pm UTC

Will the Internet Kill the Creative Class?

Buzz Machine’s Jeff Jarvis thinks so:

Internet curmudgeons argue that Google et al are bringing society to ruin precisely because they rob the creative class of its financial support and exclusivity: its pedestal. But internet triumphalists, like me, argue that the internet opens up creativity past one-size-fits-all mass measurements and priestly definitions and lets us not only find what we like but find people who like what we do. The internet kills the mass, once and for all. With it comes the death of mass economics and mass media, but I don’t lament that, not for a moment.

Shades of the long tail, don’t ya think …

Pop Matters’ Bob Horning says no way: It’s still, and always will be, about ownership and control. Traffick says it’s time to stop setting up ludicrous “straw men” and get on with the real task of building new and more democratic models. I agree, and add – before it’s too late.

People, the world is not flat. In fact, the Internet is making it spikier all the time. Google’s huge main campus is in Silicon Valley for a reason, and its outposts tend toward spiky centers as well, like say downtown NYC.

The key question of our time, as I argued in Rise, is the battle between creativity and control. Creativity is a social, well, inter-subjective process: We do it together and we all learn from history. We are in the midst of a huge, unfolding battle over who will own and control the fruits of this social creativity. The Internet does nothing to solve this problem. That’s what politics – or what one old bearded fellow used to call class struggle – is all about.

Could it be that the creative class is “unconscious”? What say you?

4 Responses to “Will the Internet Kill the Creative Class?”

  1. Elizabeth M Says:

    It’s a double-edged sword. So many creatives get more exposure through the glory of the Internet. I can’t imagine conducting my writing business without it. But I do also feel like I’m a slave to the Internet and my computer (a workaholic in denial, no doubt… totally self-inflicted). The Internet lets everyone own the world — small pieces, big pieces. It also allows the world to see how creative people can be — could the Internet folk be a class of creatives inside the creative class?

  2. Phil Says:

    I am all for the internet. With the power of the internet I’ve learned the skills that have gotten me a full-time job, learned how to DJ, to produce music and so many other things.
    To answer the question Elizabeth M posed I have to say a resounding “yes”. Internet creatives are a group all to themselves. Because we have access to creative happenings around the world it further fuels our creative pursuits. The internet gives us the confidence to try to push new ideas in our own communities. We can create an idea then see if anyone else is doing something similar around the world. Once you see that an idea you have can work it drives you to go ahead and try it yourself.
    I’m involved in a lot of worldwide underground music scenes. With the power of the Internet I’ve been able to connect with people around the world in the scenes. I even know several people that have been booked to play shows in Europe just because of the connections they’ve made online.
    To sum it up the Internet and people in it are an incredible source of inspiration that goes against the mainstream. So if people hold on to their archaic models they will simply be left behind.

  3. Blazze Says:

    The internet is a result of creativity. Control is an illusion. Creative control is the responsiblity of said creative person. The internet is interactive, compared to previous where all was spoon fed through television and radio and newspapers. Good ideas are like gossip, copy and pasted, mass e-mailed, forumed, blogged and bulletin’d. Freedom to participate and create, and or sit and wait for things to get better will take you nowhere fast.
    Online lives, connect us all to a planet wide society, and has given me a source to practice creative writing, and to share knowledge in a general way that I have learned over many years. If I help just one or inspire another in anyway than I feel I have made an impact on making thier live just a little better. I work in the music biz you’de be amazed how hand shakes kind words and pats on the back make a persons day, and it takes what. a few seconds?

    We are all connected, we are all creative, we are all in control. or depending on your personal attitude you could put : We are NOT…etc. in front of the above 3 statments.
    Either be a part of the solution or part of the problem. Again that is the freedon of choice we have to make in order to live an effective life. Or you can sit and complain, which often you’ll find: Misery loves company, (not mine for long LOL) & small minds run in small circles, or …
    my preference: Great Minds Think Alike. Thought is energy. It is faster that the speed of light. So what type of energy you put into your thoughts will most likely be your end results. To copyright and control and own your intellectual property check out on line LOL the Library of Congress & Copyrights.
    I’m just sayin’ LOL
    Blazze ……

  4. Michael R. Bernstein Says:

    The creative class is largely unconscious, at least in the ‘class consciousness’ sense.

    Without having most of your oeuvre to hand (I just moved to Albuquerque, and much of my library is still boxed up), I am not sure whether you’ve previously identified economic issues that are most relevant to the CC, but I suspect that (for example) Creatives are more likely to be self-employed, and therefore obtaining adequate health insurance coverage is probably a bigger problem for them.

    There are other issues that resonate with the CC that pertain to equality of economic and creative opportunity, such as telecommunications policy (ie. Net Neutrality) and the various intellectual property regimes (retroactive copyright extensions, software patents, DRM, etc.), but many journalists still largely frame these as disputes between sets of corporations, especially Google (ie. Google vs. the book publishers, Google vs. the telecoms, etc.).

    There are organizations that tackle these issues and promote the positions that directly benefit the CC (such as the FSF, EFF, EPIC, Public Knowledge, Free Press, etc.), but NONE of them frame their arguments in terms of a class-struggle, or even class-consciousness (FSF comes closest, but the class they are concerned with is ‘computer users’).