A concept timeline of culture evolution: from Culture to Culture 3.0

Culture 1.0: classical patronage
• Technological conditions for cheap reproducibility and circulation not existing yet: no structured cultural markets;
• Limited audience, coinciding with the patron’s acquaintances;
• Patronage choices determined by the patron’s tastes and interests, mainly for spiritual cultivation and social promotion;
• Culture does not generate value added, but only absorbs value produced elsewhere in the economy.

Culture 1.1: strategic patronage
• The target expands strategically beyond the patron’s acquaintances to pursue more ambitious consensus policies (civil or religious audiences);
• Patronage choices determined by ideological objectives, in a potentially conflicting dialectics with artists;
• Culture is economically non‐productive, but can generate a huge political and social payoff, and even economic insofar as it increases the patron’s image and bargaining power in economic trade or banking relationships.

Culture 1.2: public patronage
• Culture becomes a more and more universal human right as a basic component of human development;
• The State chooses what deserves to be patronized and what not, thereby fixing the dyadic categories of high‐(brow) vs. low‐(brow) culture;
• Audience significantly expands, with outside the market context;
• Culture absorbs relatively huge resources, and implies a redistribution from the citizens who don’t attend to those who attend;
• Access to high‐brow culture becomes a sign of bourgeois distinction.

The 1.0‐2.0 transition
• Modern cultural markets are created by the concurrent emergence of a wave of technological innovation at the edge between XIX and XX century: modern printing, radio, music recording, photography, cinema;
• The fact that for more than one century through the industrial revolution culture is not industrialized, however, creates a permanent frame of mind in Europe according to which culture is un‐economical and needs to be subsidized anyway;
• The high‐brow stigma of patronage makes commercialization of culture problematic to many cultural players and to part of the audiences.

culture3-0-evolution-scheme-by-pier-luigi-sacco
Culture 3.0 evolution scheme by Pier Luigi Sacco

Culture 2.0: CCIs
• Builds and reaches very large audiences;
• Is based on the virtually unlimited reproducibility of creative contents once the matrix has been produced;
• Generates significant turnover and profits;
• Is a distinct sector of the economy, and a part of the entertainment meta‐sector;
• Generates leisure experiences and occupies (part of) free time of people;
• Needs intellectual protection (copyright);
• May also increasingly extend the creative element to functional domains (CIs)

The 2.0‐3.0 transition
• We are now witnessing a new regime transition that is driven by two concurrent streams of innovation: digital content production + digital connectivity;
• Standard digital suites provide people with semiprofessional packages that are cheap and easy to learn; with a modest investment they can be upgraded at the professional level;
• The same packages less than 2 decades ago would have been expensive, would have required bulky hardware and would have been difficult to use;
• Contents can be distributed almost without mediators to highly segmented and profiled audiences by means of increasingly specialized social media.

Culture 3.0: Communities of practice and open platforms
• Blurred distinction between producers and users of content: cultural access and production of new contents are two phases of the same process;
• Culture can be massively produced and distributed also outside market channels;
• Economic and social value is produced not only through priced content, but also through generic participation;
Culture becomes increasingly a precondition of all kinds of economic value generation processes (‘culturalization’ of the economy);
• Culture is no longer an aspect of free time use but is entrenched in the fabric of daily life.

The Culture 3.0 paradigm
• Culture 1.0 (Patronage): Highbrow vs. lowbrow, culture as spiritual cultivation, no industrial organization;
• Culture 2.0 (CCIs): copyright, culture as entertainment, market organization;
• Culture 3.0 (open communities of practice): blurred distinction producers/users, culture as collective sense-making, networks organization.

Culture 3.0 is itself a transitional model. Like in all transitions, we tend to focus mainly on what is more familiar, i.e., on the 2.x remnants of the 3.0 scenario. But the momentum goes elsewhere:
•Imitating the business leaders of today in creative industry is very myopic. We have a major revolution ahead, and things will change radically;
•The real disruptive innovation lies in community participation and in the social organization models that unleash the potential of collective co-creation;
•If you want to build a long-term culture-led development model, go for them and prioritize participation. This is the crucial asset that makes the difference, not technology in itself.

Challenges ahead: Culture 3.1
•The persisting logic of Culture 2.x makes people think that an economy of collective content making can still be organized into XIX-XX century profit maximizing companies;
•It will become quickly clear that a socially unfair economic model generating growing inequality is simply not sustainable, as the Silicon Valley Dilemma is beginning to demonstrate;
•This could make the currently dominating Big 4 business models quickly obsolete
•Collective content making requires true inclusive participation and massive capability building;
•Therefore if we want to understand the cultural industries of the future we have to focus upon processes of culture-led development and public cultural participation.

Main Photo Credits (Creative Commons): click here.

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