The Web Science Trust

Cultural Science and Creativity

Hartley, John (2009) Cultural Science and Creativity. In: Proceedings of the WebSci'09: Society On-Line, 18-20 March 2009, Athens, Greece. (In Press)

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And evolutionary theory focuses on the dynamics of change in the growth of knowledge. All of these developments are assisting those coming from anthropology, cultural studies and creative arts to rethink creativity as a property of agency in dynamic systems, not of heroic individuals. Cultural science identifies patterns of action in complex social networks; their past evolution and possible future scenarios, including paying attention to unintended consequences of choices at any given moment. Researchers in Australia are active in developing this new cultural science. A high level international workshop was held in Brisbane in 2008 to plan future research. The meeting attracted thought leaders from Europe, the USA and Australia, in complexity and network studies, evolutionary economics, anthropology and creative innovation, both historical and contemporary. The event, called ‘Creative Destruction,’ was hosted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries & Innovation at QUT, and supported by FEAST (the Forum for Australian-EU Science & Technology cooperation), the British Arts & Humanities Research Council and the State Library of Queensland. Its purpose was not only to develop an interdisciplinary manifesto for cultural science but to link it with innovation and research policy formation. The cultural science initiative resulting from this meeting can be sampled at the Cultural Science website: The future-oriented view of this group is that creativity – both expert and amateur – is driving change in the nature of markets as well as dynamic growth in creative sectors like digital content. More fundamentally, reflexive creativity is what enables human culture to adapt and change, a process that – despite some ‘mass extinctions’ throughout the millennia – has resulted in an exponential growth in knowledge and in the creation of new values, both economic and cultural. Culture can no longer be seen as the preserve of artists. It is made up of the activities and productivity of the millions who interact in the social networks that are now dispersed among whole populations. With the growing ubiquity of digital media these are becoming a more dynamic source of productivity than industrial innovation. The social network ‘swarm’ outperforms the IP-protected ‘lab,’ and at twice the speed. One of the best examples of how that sort of innovation works is in science itself; astronomers and physicists use digital networks to increase the scale and speed of their calculations. But the same model works in fashion, where constant innovation is equally imperative and a complex social network market determines individual choices. Such systems can be analysed using both in-close contextual techniques from the humanities and computational power to map social networks of choice and change in the way that people perform their cultural identity and relationships, a process that is well under way in internet and network studies. Theory-building is also vital to model how such actions are patterned in complex adaptive systems, and how agents and enterprises navigate those systems. This provides the evidential basis for what creative entrepreneurs know intuitively – that despite their wealth of creative talent many countries are not pulling their weight internationally in distributed, creative, networked, crowd-sourced innovation.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Uncontrolled Keywords:cultural science, creativity, social networks, innovation, distributed expertise
Subjects:Web Science Events > Web Science 2009
ID Code:144
Deposited By: W S T Administrator
Deposited On:24 Jan 2009 08:45
Last Modified:16 Mar 2009 23:42

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