The physical matter we are dealing with today is exactly the same that was available to our hominid Palaeolithic ancestors. What makes the difference between now and then is the way in which matter is arranged, and thus its information content. Starting from this simple but far from obvious remark, César Hidalgo’s Why Information Grows offers a fresh approach to the understanding of the functioning of economic systems which is at the same time pragmatic, conceptually elegant and innovative. Continue reading The essence of smart specialization: local economies as computational platforms (review essay)→
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.
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.
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