CYBER DISCOURSE: IMAGINING & ENLIGHTENING?

By PATRICK M. COVERT

Trending on Twitter @twitter right now: “Is the digital world killing creativity?”  Thank you Pete Cashmore @mashable for this enlightened statement.  Adobe Systems Incorporated @adobe commissioned the survey which spawned this question.  Of course Adobe likely intended this, because their latest product, “Creative Suite 6,” just hit the shelves. 

This simple survey has people thinking about creativity.  Is this an innocent trend survey or brilliant marketing strategy?

Mashable.com displays the info-graphic results of this survey.  In a nutshell, more than half of Americans surveyed believe themselves creative, yet one in four doubts that he/she is achieving their creative potential.  We also believe our institutions are stifling creativity. 

More Americans believe themselves more creative in contrast with a global population, yet we believe Tokyo, Japan, to be more creative than New York City.  Keep in mind, this study was simply a survey of 5,000 global residents, and was not based on any other empirical evidence.

Americans feel employers value productivity over creativity, according to the survey.  I would have thought this to be obvious. 

Who pays the bills?  I @crashwny know that if I do not perform the “billable tasks” expected of me, I am no longer of value to my employer.  My company @ruralmetro needs to have revenue to pay me.  Therefore, if I produce, I am valuable and I continue to get a paycheck. 

Most of my time at work involves repetitive tasks which allow me to be ready for that five percent of the time when I have to come up with creative solutions.  Do I feel my creativity is stifled at work? No, not when working at the core objective of my profession, although I also realize that my creative solutions to operational problems are completely ignored. 

When management is notified about an operational problem of which they already are aware, they tend to turn “off,” no matter what the non-management employee has to say.  It is cubicle farming 101, and that’s what MBA’s are for.

 Oscar Wilde @wit_of_wilde said, “Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.” We Americans have been discontent since the 1600’s when our ancestors started leaving their homelands to come to these shores.  Surveys like this prove we are still discontent. 

Discontentment in our workplace drives individuals to innovate from within, or leave and start their own businesses.  Discontentment within our educational institutions should drive students to become educators and advance schools to higher standards. 

A college underclassman’s discomfiture with his social atmosphere at a university became Facebook.

So what does all of this have to do with the digital revolution which surrounds us? 

Adobe doesn’t reveal the answer.  Business and Legal Resources, hr.blr.com – not on Twitter, published results from a 2007 survey, which gives a similar picture.  Eighty-five percent of respondents reported themselves as creative and only 63 percent of those said their jobs tap into their creativity. 

The gap between the creative and those who are allowed to be creative is still over/under 25 percent.  The digital revolution had less hold on society in 2007. Could I make a conclusion about digital media and creativity based on this data? 

Mashable has no historical evidence to support its hypothesis that the digital age is to blame.  Adobe says nothing about technology being to blame.  And I cannot find a similar study done prior to widespread use of the Internet.

I check my three social media sites every day;  Twitter™, Facebook™, and Google™.  One of my favorite “people” is Karine (@artsoholic). She is primarily on Google and fills my data stream with new art every day.  We think and discuss the meaning behind the art, sometimes with the artist themselves joining the discourse. 

Kevin Smith @thatkevinsmith is one of my not-so-favorites.  I look past his constant shameless self promotion to see his constant shameless productivity, which spans all available media.  He is a prolific filmmaker, writer, actor, and producer.  He has a web-based radio station, releases daily podcasts and tours North America doing live shows. 

Finally, and soon to be on Twitter is The Covert Letter www.thecovertletter.com . This sporadic release blog is my inspiration and my outlet for the written word.  It aids and abets broadcast of my opinions, thoughts, and ideas to the world at large.

I say to Mashable and Adobe: In the future please do actual research and compare with research by others to at least pretend to back up a statement, which millions of Twitter users are “tweeting” about worldwide.  The new digital age, in my mind, gives us a broadcast outlet for our creativity and it is up to us whether we use it wisely.

Or we can be like @julianastrong1, who uses current trends along with an attractive profile picture to spam Twitter users, which I suppose is also a creative way to advertise.—©2012 Patrick M. Covert

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Patrick M. Covert writes from Buffalo, N.Y.