The diversity of participants in online co-creation

Photo and book covers
Richard Florida is professor at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto and authos of numerous books about creative professionnals (image via www.joeydevilla.com)

 

In a previous post about today’s amateurs, we talked about the Creative Class (Florida, 2002) and the fact that there is a lot of unexploited creativity in the world that can be leveraged to increased global well-being. Co-creation platform like eYeka allow people to invest their creative energy in concrete projects on a global scale. But during a research seminar I recently attended in Paris, I was asked a simple yet interesting question: « isn’t there a bias by which these participants are mainly part of this Creative Class, thus leading to a homogeneization of creative output? » Good question. Let’s look at two popular stereotypes about creative people.

 

1) Creative types come from cities

 

« Urban agglomerations are the primary engines of economic development because they are locations where knowledge, creativity and innovation flourish » (Michael Porter, 1990)

 

What Michael Porter noted in The Competitive Advantage of Nations, Richard Florida repeated it in his book Cities and the Creative Class in 2005. What is the Creative Class? He describes it by saying that « if you use your creativity as a key in your work in business, education, health care,  law or some other profession, you are a member« . These people are attracted by cities because they are places where there is talent, technology and tolerance (the 3T’s). Florida indeed says that « creativity cannot flourish without a creative climate characterised by ‘a culture that’s open-minded and diverse’« . Very recent research even shows that living in cities impacts someone’s mental processing abilities!

So, does a majority of active people live in cities? Recently, a platform called Quirky released an infographic which showed where in the United States their inventors come from. A glance on the map seems to show a concentration of inventors in the big American cities: Los Angeles, New York City, Houston… However, as Cliff Kuang from Fast.Co.Design notes, « doing a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, about half of America’s 300 million people live in those [sates with big cities]. In other words, the innovations seem to be flowing at a steady per capita rate; cities are not over-represented » . Take a look at the following two maps:

maps

The first map shows the density of the Creative Class, the second shows Quirky's invetors' origin (sources: triangleartworks.org and fastcodesign.com)

As you can see, inventors of Quirky don’t only come from Boston of Washington, where the Creative Class density is very high. Look at the most obvious outlier state: Montana (one of the most sparsely populated in the country), accounts for nearly 7% of all the submissions to the website. Cliff Kuang notes that « this is precisely the opposite of what most studies of innovation would tell you« , studies like Florida’s work about the Creative Class or Glaeser’s investigation of cities’ role in human achievement.

 

2) Creative people are hipsters!

 

iphone-app-screenshots

This is typically a cliché of creativity (image via designhey.com)

Creativity is much more than what the above iPhone application shows. In an article called Creative Types and Personality, two researchers from the University of New Hampshire find that people can be creative in very different ways: They identified « the Conventional Person, the Everyday Creative Person, the Scholar, the Artist, and the Renaissance Person » and showed that each have different lifestyles and attitudes towards achievement! In his work about the Creative Class, Richard Florida, talks about scientists, poets, architects, designers or musicians; people who « set their own hours and dress codes in the workplace, often reverting to more relaxed, casual attire instead of business suits and ties« .

 

The web allows to leverage the world’s creativity, regardless of where it comes from

 

The advantage of the internet, is that you can reach people all over the world. With increasing broadband coverag and multimedia use, people can not only be reached but the most motivated and skilled people can also create rich content to upload on the web. A quick look at some of eYeka’s last co-creation contests shows the potential of such a global participation.Participants indeed come from both cities and rural locations, and co-creation contest winners too.

In Hyundai’s co-creation contest, for example, winners came from cities in India, Switzerland, Singapore, Ireland and China. Another example is Actimel’s co-creation contest, whose winners also came from cities, in France and the UK. However, it’s quite common to have winners from very different locations: In BMW’s co-creation contest, a winner came from Armenia, in Tag Heuer’s co-creation contest a winner came from rural Hungary. Or have a look at the winners of Lenovo’s co-creation contest, where a winner comes from a small city in Nigeria, and another one from a small town in Portugal.

 

Bottom line is…

 

As we have seen, creative people don’t all live in cities or wear the latest designer items. Creativity comes in various packages and this diversity is also represented on online co-creation platforms, like eYeka.

About Yannig

Yannig was Marketing Manager at eYeka, responsible for PR, communication and research. Interested in marketing, innovation and design-related topics, he also loves to free his head by cycling, running, reading or drawing. Yannig, who holds an MSc from ESSCA School of Management and a PhD from University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, tweets under @YannigRoth and blogs at www.yannigroth.com
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