“Vision requires execution…execution requires relationships…relationships require trust” – Steve Case
Co-creating is a term we’re starting to hear very often, and perhaps too often too soon. I think it might cheapen and mis-direct the important process of making deep changes to the ‘colonization’ (due to the rampant corporatism of today) of the exchanges between people that are necessary to create almost anything that finds form and expression.
But clearly it’s important (generally) as a widespread new way of creating things and services, and getting things done by and with people.
The growth and spread of the term “co-creating” has led to significant interest in more open people processes, both in workplaces as well as other forms of organizations. And more and more processes both conceptual and practical in nature from the domains of art, theatre, ludic play, improv, circus, farce and pantomime are being drawn together and applied to why and how people interact and create.
Participative processes like Open Space, World Cafes, Unconferences, Peer Circles and so on are beginning to appear in a range of hybrid forms wherever people are meeting and interacting to advance an interest, a topic or subject, a project, etc.
At the same time, in the wide-ranging realms of art and culture-making activities we’re witnessing the advanced stage of a long-term wrestling match between commercial forces and the various main forms of funding the expression of creative endeavours.
The explosions of creative technology we’ve been experiencing have spawned a series of sociological responses, in the form(s) of Barcamps, Wordcamps, Govcamps, Foo Camps, Unconferences, high-end celebrity-and-marketing-and venture-capital ‘experience’ markets, new cultural and artistic festivals with technology-and-culture-making themes. There’s also a rapidly-increasing range of maker faires, many and various configurations of online education (viz. the recent explosion of interest in MOOCs), community-and-consensus building, organizing for activism and fundraising, and other similar events and happenings.
The impetus behind this explosion is both technological and sociological.
Technological … There has been an historical evolution of various kinds of technology over the past three decades, but for the purposes of this essay we are referring to information technology and the creation and evolution of the Internet and the Web. When we speak of ‘co-creating”, most often we’re interested in the appearance, development and evolution of social tools, web services, massive storage, and the ongoing development of computer-and-smart-devices development. The changes have been massive and fast, and touch virtually all areas of human activity. And … it’s not going away. As Stowe Boyd has said, “welcome to the post-normal world”.
Sociological … People are searching for ways to find others with similar interests and motivations so that they can engage in activities that help them learn, find work, grow capabilities and skills, and tackle vexing social and economic problems. As awareness spreads and experience grows, more and more of these types of events and purposeful gatherings occur. Thus, the “get informed and take action” aspects of general culture are strengthened and reinforced, leading to yet more of these types of activities.
Developing familiarity and practice with open and collaborative processes are ways people can prepare for a messy and uncertain (post-normal) future. These processes invite us to play and work together. They occur in spaces in which people can 1) learn more about themselves and the courageous act of finding and using one’s voice, 2) show and see how useful and positive it is to expose and discuss various ideas, 3) demonstrate how effectively they can operate together in a small temporary community of ideas and energy about an issue. It can be seen as “practicing for the future”.
The orientation to open and participative is now regularly taking form in the arenas of education, learning and organizational change. The processes outlined above, and others using the same principles, are cheap, easy for people to apply with a few simple rules about self-management, operate democratically, and produce results grounded in ownership and the responsibilities that have been agreed upon by the ‘community’. The relationships and flows of information can be transferred to online spaces and often benefit from wider connectivity.
Today, our culture-making activities are well engaged in the early stages of cultural mutation. These processes are for these times.
What’s coming along next ? ………
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