In the information economy, creative content is a nation’s most important natural resource. “The wealth creation in an economy of ideas is dependent on the capacity of a nation to continually create content or new forms of widely distributed expression, for which they will need to invest in creative human capital throughout the economy and not merely gadgets and hardware.” (Venturelli 14). We may assume then that in the 21st century, artists will finally be able to earn a living.
Industrial Age à Information Age
As in all philosophical shifts much of the 20th century was spent applying the ideas of the industrial age onto the increasingly visible information age. At the dawning of the 21st century we are still relying on the Research and Development model of the industrial revolution which asserts that artists are valuable because they are involved in unorthodox activities which lead to innovations in the cultural sector and can sometimes even be applied to other sectors. This model values the artists’ final products, or “deliverables”, if it generates change and growth in the marketplace of ideas.
In the information economy innovation is still celebrated but the process itself of investigation and creation is valued in its own right because it adds to the cultural capital of a people. It is the content with which we do business. People participating in unorthodox activities is revered not because it may lead to something, but because it is something in its own right, a natural resource, it adds to the stockpile. Documenting these investigations and releasing them into the environment is the duty of anybody who wants to contribute.
Since humans will spend increasing amounts of time consuming information “Nations that fail to meet this challenge will simply become passive consumers of ideas emanating from societies that are in fact creatively dynamic and able to commercially exploit the new creative forms” (Venturelli 12).
Successful societies will draw on as many citizens as possible to participate, demystifying the notion of artist as a creative genius who works independently in an art laboratory, and then gives his gift to the world. This will cause growing pains and ego-smashing at first, but once the creative class has digested this idea, they will begin to see themselves working in an interdependent environmental infosphere that has the same requirements as the natural environment of balance, diversity, and interaction. Of course every sector of society can contribute to the growth of the creative sector.
Some Important Terms: The Marketplace of Ideas v. The Mental Environment
In order to understand the Information Economy more clearly we need a new set of terms. Instead of referring to “The Marketplace of Ideas” with its foundation in Adam Smith’s economic philosophy we should instead be moving towards the concept of the “Mental Environment”. The former is a remnant of the industrial revolution, where...