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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity 7 Institutional Issues and Public Policy Many of the opportunities and challenges associated with work in information technology and creative practices (ITCP) are presented in the preceding chapters. Chapters 3 and 4 focus on substance—the subject areas that merit attention—whereas Chapters 2, 5, and 6 focus on the processes and places that directly support ITCP work. There are also global factors that can indirectly promote or deter ITCP work that extend beyond the intellectual agenda and specific mechanisms and support structures previously described. Attention is focused here on the four relevant global issues on which committee members have informed commentary to offer: digital copyright, digital archiving and preservation, validation and recognition structures, and the geography of ITCP. In these four areas, ITCP work could benefit from some type of concerted action—by government agencies; legislatures; courts; industries; colleges and universities; professional, scholarly, and trade associations; and other interest groups. First, the ongoing copyright debates on the use and re-use of digital information have important immediate and future consequences for the conduct of ITCP work. Second, the archiving and preservation of digital content for the benefit of future generations—to support both future enjoyment and to serve as a baseline for future ITCP work—requires action now before many digital works become lost. Third, new recognition and validation structures may be needed to evaluate and reward ITCP work that is notably different from mainstream information technology (IT) or arts and design work. And fourth, regional development policies and practices can encourage or discourage the evolution of environments
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity conducive to ITCP work. The issue of funding from governments and private philanthropy is discussed in Chapter 8.1 DIGITAL COPYRIGHT ITCP work builds on the cumulative record of social and cultural discourse, scholarship, and scientific debate and discovery. Simple and direct access to this record can greatly facilitate the production of creative work. Governments recognize the importance of this dependence in cultural, artistic, technical, and/or scholarly accomplishment. Intellectual property laws are fashioned with a careful balance of interests in mind—a balance that includes the interests of those who produce creative and intellectual work, those who wish access to it, and those who mediate between the producers and the users. However, the advent of digital content and networks has upset this balance, which was crafted substantially for a world of physical artifacts, not electronic bits (see Box 7.1). Some suggest that the balance is skewed, and, in particular, that the balance has shifted in favor of commercial interests. Whether this shift has indeed taken hold can be debated,2 but no one can deny that the interests of commercial content producers and distributors are well represented and highly visible in the public debate. Recently, however, other viewpoints are gaining prominence, through the work of scholars such as Lawrence Lessig.3 Capability in the creative use of IT needs to be understood as growing from the fertile soil of a common culture containing past creativity, ever more encoded in digital artifacts, and the nurturing of social processes, ever more mediated through IT networks, that make deep knowledge of this past creativity possible. The real choices available to individual ITCP practitioners in defining how their work circulates socially constitute an effective dimension of their creative freedom.4 However, the mediation by networks raises new questions 1 There are, of course, other public policy issues that have varying impact on ITCP work, such as the concentration of the mass-media industries and the role and impact of international organizations (some of which is discussed in Chapter 8 under the rubric of funding). The committee focused its attention on the set of public policy issues that it sees as most important to ITCP work and for which the committee is capable of providing specific commentary. 2 See Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB), National Research Council (NRC), 2000, The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 3 See, for example, Lawrence Lessig, 2001, The Future of Ideas, Random House, New York. 4 Michael Shapiro makes the important argument that while Americans usually do not think of their nation as having a cultural policy (since it prefers private over public funding models), in fact intellectual property regulation is precisely that—a politically
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity BOX 7.1 What Changed in the Balance of Copyright Protections? Deterioration in the effectiveness of the natural inhibitors to copying. Magazines, oil paintings, and most other physical objects involve non-trivial costs to copy, and in some instances, the costs can be prohibitive. Digital information largely overcomes these natural physical deterrents; copying bits is very inexpensive and typically only requires access to commonplace computer systems. The proliferation of digital information and networks makes it possible to produce and distribute many exact copies rapidly for nearly zero cost. Deterioration in the effectiveness of the natural inhibitors to modification. Similarly, modifying physically based objects often involves non-trivial costs (e.g., modifying a copy of a book), and the modifications may often be obvious once made. Modifications of digital information can usually be accomplished at very low cost and often are virtually undetectable. Use of information technology to lock up digital information in ways that were previously impractical. Information contained within physical objects (e.g., books) could not be reasonably controlled once distributed; by contrast, content-protection technologies could control access to some digital information indefinitely. From display to publication? The use of the Web to make work accessible can raise questions that did not arise previously. For example, consider a physical work of art that incorporates ordinary household items that are protected under copyright.1 Copyright permission is not required to incorporate a soup can or soft drink container into an artwork. However, developing the comparable work for access on the Web may constitute publication and may therefore necessitate permission from the copyright holder (which also may involve the payment of a fee) before such work can be made publicly available. Digital archiving and preservation involves copyright law in an intimate way. As described in the section “Digital Archiving and Preservation,” archiving and preserving digital works often involves making a copy of the original (and possibly modifying it) and providing access to the copied work. Archiving of physical objects such as sculpture or books rarely involved such concerns. Technology facilitates reuse of information, but the legal and economic infrastructure does not. Networks and digital information can enable the development of extraordinary information technology (IT) and creative practices (ITCP) work that draws on many other works from around the world. IT facilitates integrative, improvisational approaches. However, the infrastructure to secure the legal rights to use other works is a long way from supporting many such projects and is a deterrent to the creative process. Increasing use of contract law (licenses) instead of some provisions of copyright law. One provision of particular importance in the conduct of ITCP work, especially work that incorporates small portions of other works, is the fair use doctrine.2 If licensing increasingly replaces fair use, ITCP work can be inhibited because of difficulties in securing permissions, as discussed above. Cost is also an issue. The fair use doctrine was included in the copyright law as a part of the deal in copyright protection in support of the public interest—that is, protection is granted, but the copyright holder agrees to limited free access. Insofar as the increasing use of licenses implies increased cost, ITCP work is deterred. NOTE: The content of this box is derived from (1) two commissioned papers of the Art, Technology, and Intellectual Property Project of the American Assembly: “Looking Backward and Forward” by Michael Shapiro, 2001, and “Public Policy at the Intersection of the Arts” by Margaret Wyszomirski, 2001, available online at <http://www.americanassembly.org/ac/atip_p_cp.htm>; (2) the final report of the Art, Technology, and Intellectual Property Project of the American Assembly, 2002, available online at <http://www.americanassembly.org/ac/atip_na_fr.htm>; and (3) Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council, 2000, The Digital Dilemma: Intellectual Property in the Information Age, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 1 For some items, trademark law might be more applicable. Nevertheless, the basic point still applies. 2 The fair use doctrine relates to a provision in U.S. copyright law that permits limited copying and use of works protected by copyright to be undertaken without the explicit permission of the copyright holder. The scope of “limited” is too complex to be addressed here; see Chapter 4 of The Digital Dilemma.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity about rights and responsibilities that, depending on how law and norms evolve, could chill some explorations.5 Thus, future stakes include access to and protection of content as well as the shaping of platforms for cultural expression. The openness of some software communities to the free exchange of software-code components and the designation of digital art objects as common property for reuse have become a contentious aspect of digital culture in the past decade. Code sharing, especially for research and education, characterized the early years of computer science; restrictions on sharing grew with proprietary, commercial interests; and the “open source” (for open access to source code) movement arose as an attempt to reset the balance and foster alternatives to closed, commercial systems. Notwithstanding the partial origins of the open-source movement in the quest for highly reliable generic computing resources, like operating systems or file transfer services,6 there are similar incentives for individual creators to contribute to a common art or design platform.7 Such a platform can permit a rising tide of community performance in particular domains, such as computer animation or interactive art, while still preserving the ability of individuals to create their own works. Similarly, an open-source approach may enable development of tools specialized for art or design uses that would not themselves justify commercial development. Thus, as the case of the Max programming language8 shows on a small scale, ecologically diverse mixtures of proprietary and free components have appeared with growing frequency in large, industrial-strength applications offered by vendors such as AliasWavefront, SoftImage, and AutoDesk. This phenomenon, and the interest in ITCP communities in open source, illustrate how creativity is a process combining cooperation and competition. More thoughtful approaches are needed than shaped framework for cultural development. In this framework, citizens’ knowledge of their creative rights and responsibilities becomes a core capability within an information society. By analogy to the rise of environmental consciousness, public policy defining such capabilities should no more be delegated to private media corporation special interests than should the setting of environmental policy be dominated by either the Sierra Club or General Motors. See Michael Shapiro, 2001, “Copyright as Cultural Policy,” Center for Arts and Culture, Washington, D.C. 5 For a concrete example, consider the robotic plants of Ken Goldberg (described in Chapter 6), or any other participatory work that is enabled by the Internet. Who retains the copyright for each individual contribution? If the answer is “each individual,” then use of the work and the collective individual contributions could require copyright approval (or a licensing agreement) from each participant. 6 For further information, see <http://www.gnu.org/>. 7 Emblematic was the organizing of the “International Conference on Collaboration and Ownership in the Digital Economy” (known as CODE) held in Cambridge, England, in April 2001. See <http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/CODE/>. 8 See the discussion in Chapter 3.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity Copyright issues greatly influence the nature of ITCP work, and such issues deserve further examination and action. simply to discourage or criminalize the copying of digital content.9 And (longitudinal) study is needed to understand what, in fact, is the impact of open source on creativity. Creators of all types, from economically marginal or folk producers to professional commercial artists, need to become aware of the range of licensing options and permissions already available to them within current legal frameworks. One of these is, of course, to choose to place works in the public domain to facilitate reuse, or to pool them as part of intellectual property conservancies.10 There are initiatives to assess the options available for balancing individual creative incentives with the legitimate needs of citizens to share and cooperate in the building of a common digital culture.11 For example, the American Assembly’s Art, Technology and Intellectual Property (ATIP) project is a national effort by a non-partisan, public policy institution to address the impacts, challenges, and opportunities resulting from technological advances that are confronting the arts.12 Case Western Reserve University has established the new Center for Law, Technology, and the Arts.13 Continuing efforts are needed, particularly those that can offer new and bold ideas that are commensurate with the effects on copyright law and practice attributable to the shift from analog to digital information. The development of specific proposals that could be implemented deserves priority over general philosophical and conceptual discussions of the impact of copyright law on the conduct of ITCP work. The brief discussion above on this very complex and important topic can only begin to outline the many facets of digital copyright and especially those facets that have the most impact on ITCP, which embrace the use, control, distribution, ownership, and creation of ITCP work. A more complete examination would extend to other aspects of intellectual property rights—patents and trademarks. Thus, the purpose of this section is not to provide a comprehensive analysis 9 The Digital Dilemma (CSTB, NRC, 2000) documents the debates about how to frame the commonly agreed upon importance of public education about intellectual property. The Future of Ideas (Lessig, 2001) leads the charge in articulating the counter-productive effects on the public welfare from imposing stringent intellectual property protection by making copyright valid for longer periods. 10 Based on a presentation by Rick Prelinger, Prelinger Archives, at the committee’s January 2001 meeting at Stanford University. 11 CreativeCommons.org has launched a set of tools and templates for guiding creators in the “specialized” licensing of their work—suggesting intermediate solutions between the monopoly status of copyright and the uncertain and sometimes inappropriate status of general public licenses and other comparable mechanisms. “The project will make use of one of the techniques employed by digital rights management systems—specifically, the concept of a rights expression language—but with the primary goal of releasing (rather than reserving and enforcing) intellectual property rights” (private communication, Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, University of Michigan Law School, April 15, 2002). 12 See <http://www.americanassembly.org/ac>. 13 See <http://lawwww.cwru.edu/academic/lta/introduction.htm>.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity of the copyright issues relevant to ITCP work, but to convey to the reader the message that copyright issues greatly influence the nature of ITCP work and that such issues deserve further examination and action. For detailed discussions, the reader is advised to review the works referred to in this section. DIGITAL ARCHIVING AND PRESERVATION In theory, digital information is perfectly reproducible and therefore potentially eternal—but practically speaking, this is far from the case. Instead, art and memories that are committed to digital media put the cultural heritage of the nation and the world at risk. Collection and exhibition must necessarily evolve into something that looks and feels like stewardship, not mere storage. As concluded in previous Computer Science and Telecommunications Board reports, new technical infrastructures are required to archive and preserve digital content,14 or when feasible, to incorporate provisions for long-term preservation into ITCP work as an integral component of initial design. The challenge of digital archiving and preservation is formidable and cannot be addressed fully in this report. There are no easy answers. However, some of the most pressing problems can be outlined here, underscored by the committee’s sense that urgent action is needed.15 Physical artifacts, although they require environmental controls and secure storage, can be preserved more easily than digital information because their formats do not become obsolete over time—a painting or sculpture remains “readable” for centuries into the future. Digital content, on the other hand, can become difficult to read in a matter of a decade (or even less) as formats and systems for digital content evolve.16 14 For detailed treatments on digital archiving in general, see Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council, 2001, LC21: A Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.; CSTB, NRC, 2000, The Digital Dilemma; and the forthcoming report of the Committee on Digital Archiving and the National Archives and Records Administration (for further information, see <http://www.cstb.org/project_nara.html>). 15 The next three paragraphs are based largely on Howard Besser’s “Longevity of Electronic Art,” February 2001, available online at <http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/~howard/Papers/elect-art-longevity.html>. 16 Try to find the hardware to read a Multimate (word processor) file on a 5.25-inch floppy disk saved using the CP/M operating system. Howard Besser characterizes this situation as “the viewing problem”—that is, “the default for electronic objects is to become inaccessible unless someone takes an immediate pro-active role to save them.” See Besser, 2001, “Longevity of Electronic Art.”
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity Files can be moved from one physical medium to another (called refreshing) in an effort to avoid ending up with files that are increasingly difficult to read because of technological obsolescence or physical decay of the medium. Refreshing does help, but it does not address the problem of evolving file formats. Refreshing files in obsolete formats (e.g., Wordstar word processing files) still leaves the problem of being able to read the obsolete format. The problem of obsolete formats becomes more difficult with multimedia information, as the different modes (sound, text, images, and so on) are represented using different formats. As a file of bits, the physical rendition of an electronic work is not fixed. ITCP works may be viewed on a personal computer with an Internet Explorer or Netscape browser today, but might be viewed using very different hardware in the future (or even the present)— with each configuration of hardware and software offering a different user experience, though based on the “same work.” For example, faster hardware and networks can cause works to operate at a more rapid pace than intended by their creators and, ultimately, as hardware and networks become orders of magnitude faster, the user’s experience could change markedly. Curators and conservators will need to identify those characteristics of the enabling information technology that are integral to a work. Even the definition of a work can be problematic. A work may link to other works (that may belong to the same creator or not), and those other works may be live works themselves, that is, changing over time in response to users’ actions, be they descriptive or structural in effect. Capturing everything necessary to preserve works that link to other works can be quite difficult—in a technological and institutional sense.17 Determining whether a work is authentic also becomes more challenging: The changing of a few bits within a work (whether by accident or design) can alter a work in a substantial way and can be extremely difficult to detect.18 Some ITCP works are created to interact with people—such works are alive in the sense that a sculpture or painting is not—and therefore these works can change over time by intent, presenting the problem of how to archive and preserve multiple versions of ostensibly the same work. In this way, ITCP work can be more challenging to archive and preserve than some other forms of digital content that are, for instance, fixed (e.g., electronic versions of printed scholarly journals). 17 There are also legal questions. Although one may link to the work of another, copying another work as an integral step in the preservation of a given work (which presumably will be made accessible to various people in the future) may well violate copyright law (for works under copyright protection), at least in the United States. See the section “Digital Copyright” above in this chapter for further discussion. 18 For example, consider a computer game in which several key parameters are changed. In terms of how the game looks and plays, all may seem as usual, except to an enthusiast who has played the game many times and can detect that “something does not feel right” or that it seems a lot harder to achieve some particular goal than previously.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity It is not uncommon for ITCP-based work to end its life with the close of the original project and exhibition, much before the challenges of obsolete hardware, software, and file formats become relevant. Therefore, archiving and preservation of ITCP work depend at least in part on the status of new-media art within curatorial institutions. For example, digital works that enter a permanent collection presumably will be properly maintained and migrated to new digital formats as necessary to ensure that the work remains accessible using reasonably available information technology. Jon Ippolito, associate curator of media art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, said, “The objective is both to demonstrate our conviction that these forms of cultural expression deserve to be safeguarded for the future and also to demonstrate a method for doing it,” when commenting on the Guggenheim’s acquisition of its first two works of Internet-based art for its permanent collection19 in the beginning of 2002.20 Another recent initiative is the project Archiving the Avant Garde, which intends to establish guidelines for museums, galleries, and artists for preserving art that incorporates information technology in significant ways.21 Other notable archiving initiatives include the Conceptual and Intermedia Arts Online project (CIAO)22 and the Variable Media Network.23 The Daniel Langlois Foundation houses the Centre for Research and Documentation, which has created an online database of artifacts that documents the history, artworks, and practices associated with digital media arts and then makes the information available to researchers and the general public.24 Electronic literature provides a good example of the problems and possibilities. The practice of literature and literary criticism would be almost unthinkable without the rich resources of the codex archive, stretching back to early print books and beyond that to manuscript culture. Recognizing its crucial importance, major institutions have devoted significant resources to the preservation and accessibility of this archive, including great public and private libraries such as the British Museum Library, the Getty Research Library, and the Beinecke 19 The works are net.flag by Mark Napier and Unfolding Object by John F. Simon, Jr., available online at <http://www.guggenheim.org/internetart>. 20 Derived from Matthew Mirapaul, 2002, “Getting Tangible Dollars for an Intangible Creation,” New York Times, February 18, p. B2. 21 Participants in the Archiving the Avant Garde project include the Walker Art Center, Cleveland Performance Art Festival and Archive, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Franklin Furnace Archive, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and Rhizome.org; see <http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/ciao/avant_garde.html>. Also see Scott Carlson, 2002, “Museums Seek Methods for Preserving Digital Art,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 28, available online at <http://chronicle.com/free/2002/05/2002052802t.htm>; and Kendra Mayfield, 2002, “How to Preserve Digital Art,” Wired, July 23, available online at <http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,53712,00.html>. 22 See <http://www.bampfa.berkeley.edu/ciao/>. 23 See <http://www.guggenheim.org/press_releases/newmedia_pr.html>. 24 See <http://www.fondation-langlois.org/>.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity There is as yet no national program for the archiving and preservation of electronic literature and art. Rare Rook and Manuscript Library at Yale University. But there is as yet no national program for the archiving and preservation of electronic literature and art. As indicated above, the Guggenheim has begun to explore the problem as it applies to electronic art, but there is as yet no consensus on what and how to archive these works. Solutions include a migration strategy, which would require periodic updating and translation of works to ensure that they can be implemented on contemporary software and hardware. Emulation focuses on the development of software that can read and interpret files in older formats. Another possibility is archiving of the machines and software on which the works run, an approach that would require continuing maintenance that becomes increasingly problematic as the machines age, as well as increasing amounts of storage room and accessibility. Yet another possibility is to identify an extensible coding language, such as the extensible markup language (XML), and publish standards that writers and artists would be encouraged to follow if they wanted to make their works as accessible as possible for archiving. In this case, concerns include securing the equivalent of electronic museums on the Web, where works could continue to be updated and made accessible to users as the coding languages continue to evolve. The Electronic Literature Organization25 is exploring all these possibilities, but again no consensus has yet emerged that is likely to win support from the relevant stakeholders. VALIDATION AND RECOGNITION STRUCTURES Validation and recognition structures are needed to encourage the production of good work in ITCP, to offer reliable indications of quality to users, the public, and funders, and in academia, to support decisions on hiring, tenure, and promotion.26 The nature of the output (consider the cliché, “but is it art?”) and the nature of the methodology (i.e., the actions taken to integrate IT into art or art into computer science) may raise questions among reviewers. A successful artist must satisfy two audiences: a public audience and the elite circle of critics, theorists, dealers, curators, and collec 25 The mission of the Electronic Literature Organization is to “facilitate and promote the writing, publishing, and reading of literature in electronic media.” See <http://www.eliterature.org>. 26 As one reviewer put it: “The new media—and simulations of the old—that computers can create allow immense novelty. But it would be surprising if the ideas on these fringes are less mediocre than most ideas elsewhere. In fact, one might expect the opposite: that it will be very difficult for most who are trying to express through the computer to find and invent genres that can carry real content expressed in new and important ways.”
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity tors.27 If an art piece gets into juried competitions because jurors like it, and then gets into galleries where many viewers see it and like it, then a verbal and written discourse is generated that renders a judgment. Critical acclaim is a strong motivator and criterion for success for much cultural production.28 More prosaic criteria are also applicable: access measurements such as exhibition attendance or Web site hits or commercial success of artists. Designers engaged in ITCP represent a kind of hybrid of artists and information technologists—market appeal is a criterion of success, but so is positive feedback from the circle of elites. Although there may be a discrepancy between popular and elite appraisal at any time, either or both may become more positive well after a work has been made public, even after the creator has died. Computer scientists (information technologists) who are employed by industry—or leverage their results by starting up a new business— may rely on market feedback. The late-1990s surge in entrepreneurial activity by computer science faculty suggests a swing toward market acceptance as a validating factor in that time period, although computer scientists continue to view academia as the locus of fundamental research and idea generation and industry (the dot-coms and other businesses) as the locus of the application of these ideas—the implementers. Market acceptance may generate professional recognition in retrospect, as is clear in the history of both computer science and the arts. On the arts side, analysts and critics—such as art historians—have long contributed to deeper understanding than mere access to artistic artifacts provides. There appears to be a lag, however, in analytical appreciation for ITCP. One reason is the prominence of fast-moving popular culture, although the history of art shows that forms must be stable for at least a while before they yield profound expression. Another reason is the slow embrace in the arts-analytical community;29 and a third reason is the undocumented nature of ITCP, which confounds scholarship. (As noted in the previous section, it may well be that humanistic scholarship in this arena will be stalled until strong, enduring alliances can be made with information scientists and com 27 A reviewer explained this challenge, a kind of double standard, as follows: “In the popular imagination (and in the popular press) the work is no good unless it is accessible to the general public. But professional advancement is the result of approval among the elite circle of critics, theorists, curators, dealers, and collectors. Imagine if a condition for the Nobel Prize for physics was that, in addition to being groundbreaking science, Joe-on-the-street must understand and like it!” 28 A practical challenge for all parties addressing IT and creative practice is maintenance of a critical attitude toward the technology. This challenge is exacerbated by the sheer difficulty and time demands of developing, maintaining, and updating technical skills, and of building reliably functioning technology. Artists’ propensity for social commentary can shape attitudes toward technology (and technologists). 29 This was remarked upon by several reviewers. There appears to be a lag in analytical appreciation for ITCP.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity puter scientists, as these two groups become increasingly familiar with the new properties of emergent digital cultural forms and thus are able to help develop a scholarly apparatus appropriate to these forms.) The lack of historical perspective among practitioners and appraisers of ITCP—that is, the lack of an understanding of the durability of new ideas and their long-term impact, and also of an understanding of how and when ideas emerged and evolved—complicates validation and recognition and contributes to considerable wheel-reinventing. Work in ITCP can sometimes be given acclaim as breakthroughs or as pioneering new forms of work. Being first to do something is often valued in technical contexts but may obscure the artistic merits. In this situation, the purpose of a work “often seems to lie outside the experience of the artwork as actually encountered. Instead the caption and illustration in the catalog, Web site, or newspaper seem to play a far greater role in the project’s perceived success than the actual experience it engenders. The labels and photographs seem to push the artwork along every institutional step of the way: before, in grant applications; during, for publicity; and after, to help memorialize the work, readying it for its incorporation by curators, critics, and academics into a historical timeline.”30 Part of the problem lies in the nature of IT, which confounds early identification of innovations that will have a lasting impact: The computer (hardware plus software) is a very plastic medium, inviting the creator to push the edge of the current convention and side-step the current limits of the medium. This is an invitation to move fast, to leave the past behind, and to go explore a constantly new future. In this early period of experimentation, it is hard to tell what is really creative, what will end up being of lasting value, what is passing novelty, and so on; too much is in flux to sustain the usual critical feedback processes. This situation helps to explain why it seems to take a long time to integrate a new technology into making non-trivial art. Often in the past, it has been the children who have grown up in a genre who have produced the most profound expressions. The innovators have tended to be more awkward, even in the so-called classical disciplines, while the second generation has often gained the fluency to push the ideas the furthest. Most forms that we make things from—whether languages or materials—have more degrees of freedom than most of us can easily handle. This gives tremendous freedom and range that have to be balanced with considerable discernment, taste, and criticism, whether one is a painter, composer, or computer scientist. In industry and in various design and art contexts, assessments may be less rigid as compared with those in academia, inasmuch as there are greater total numbers of jobs or other outlets for work. Even 30 In the words of a reviewer of this report.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity so, evaluations vary based on whether a new idea is seen as “just” an application or an incremental advance rather than as a significant innovation—the term “creative” is more likely to be used to describe the latter. In both academic and other contexts, there may also be an emphasis on whether an individual (or team) is the true originator of a new idea. Mass-market acceptance of new ideas and output/products (as opposed to acceptance by a community of peers) is not sufficient; it may be acknowledged within and outside academia, but it is no guarantor of high professional or peer regard,31 although it may matter more for some subdisciplines (e.g., design, computer graphics) than others. Also, as explained by a member of the committee, “Popularization and elite curation, though seemingly opposed, actually work together to produce stronger results than either alone could.” The extant structures for computer scientists, artists, and designers are each based on the differing goals and motivations of the respective fields; the criteria used in validation and recognition structures relevant to ITCP also differ by subdiscipline within those arenas; and validation and recognition structures for ITCP work should reflect multiple sets of goals and motivations. Differences within a field in how people perform research or undertake specific practices are also difficult to appreciate across disciplinary boundaries. This confounds the appraisal of creative practices, or excellence. In computer science, how does one judge whether a particular breakthrough is creative or not?32 Even among the arts (or the sciences), it is no easy matter to appraise creative practices across disciplines; one should not assume that a painter would automatically recognize when a jazz pianist is particularly creative, or that a network expert could easily discern a creative advance in computer graphics. Review panels, whether associated with a conference, a professional society or group, or a publication, tend to be composed of evaluators with expertise in an established field, discipline, or profession. Since ITCP work often crosses established boundaries of expertise, panels can be unprepared to conduct proper peer review of that work, especially when it includes substantive technical and cultural, critical, artistic, or design components. Alternate mechanisms for the review of ITCP work are needed. For example, one possibility is to establish small-scale independent workshops for this purpose under the auspices of several prestigious organizations (to help establish legitimacy and recognition) in diverse domains. Mechanisms to support self-organization among those pursuing ITCP work would also be helpful.33 31 In a famous example, astronomer Carl Sagan (creator of the television series Cosmos and the book and movie Contact) was probably the most popular science communicator of his day, but he was not elected to the National Academy of Sciences. 32 An experiment by the committee, featuring a set of theoretical computer science examples, yielded mixed reactions (at best) even among computer scientist reviewers. 33 See Chapter 5 for a discussion of possible mechanisms.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity Maturation of appraisal criteria must develop along with ITCP work. Ultimately, a set of distinctive goals and motivations may emerge for ITCP work, making it easier for leading practitioners to achieve the recognition that they deserve. Maturation of appraisal criteria must develop along with ITCP work, and a critical mass of critics sufficiently sophisticated to evaluate ITCP work is needed. An important factor in these developments will be the evolution of a language of discourse. Achieving great art in the future, regardless of the medium, implies finding enough stability in the language or media carriers of the ideas for both creators and appreciators (including critics and curators) to learn them. The evolving language of ITCP, of course, must be one that bridges multiple disciplines, and that bridging will have to acknowledge the different meanings attached by computer science and the arts to such words as “abstract” or “representation.” PUBLICATION Publication is important to both computer science and the arts and design (though probably more important to computer science), and this activity is evolving along with the role of technology as both input and output element. Publication vehicles vary in the extent to which they are perceived as indicators of validation and recognition. The gold standard for academia—and the criterion most easily understood by parties outside a given subdiscipline—is the so-called archival journal (often published by scholarly or professional societies) that involves considerable editorial selection plus prepublication review and revision, which function as a screening system for quality. But the long lead time for such publications poses problems for subdisciplines in which timeliness—quickly getting an idea into the field—matters. In experimental computer science, for example, the need for speed has led to an emphasis on conference publications for disseminating new ideas (journal articles are preferred for summarizing and consolidating a long-term body of work, and they are more amenable to longer write-ups). Conference proceedings offer greater speed of publication at the expense of broader audiences, stronger refereeing, and recognition associated with archival journals. Yet the prestige associated with presentations at major conferences actually makes some of them more selective than journals, especially in computer science. Outside of academia, the range of relevant publications increases markedly. Publications can range from Wired and RES to Artforum and Vogue. Anthologies, surveys, and monographs cover the work of artists. Catalogs are created from museum exhibitions, film festivals, and gallery shows. Works that are performed or displayed publicly may be reviewed by critics, providing a public forum of validation and recognition.34 Such reviews can appear in specialized professional or trade periodicals or in the popular press—from the New York Times to a small-town newspaper. 34 In contrast to the peer review process that often provides anonymous feedback.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity Broadening use of the Internet has spawned new online publications and induced changes in journals. Many print journals have now gone to electronic format, either to supplant or to complement print editions. These journals typically adhere to the same gate-keeping mechanisms, including peer review, that they developed for print. Some journals that publish exclusively in electronic form, for example Postmodern Culture,35 also have gate-keeping mechanisms equivalent to those for print. Others occupy a position midway between self-publishing and reliance on peer review, having submissions reviewed by the editors but not by outside readers. As long as editorial policies are clear to users, these electronic journals, whether partially or fully reviewed, can perform valuable services. Similar observations can be made about “technical reports” in computer science, which are usually published by the researcher’s organization and typically do not involve peer review. Web sites published through individual initiatives, lacking any validation mechanism, can have content that ranges widely from the authoritative to the misleading. CURATORIAL WEB SITES For IT-informed literary ventures and other forms of creative expression, Web-specific practices are needed for carrying out some of the reviewing functions that have developed over three or four centuries for artistic production. This is especially important given the surge in volume of material associated with the enabling of creative efforts by amateurs. One way this concept is being implemented is through curated Web sites that screen large amounts of material, evaluate the products, and then feature only those deemed to be the best. These sites combine traditional reviewing functions with the collection functions served by galleries and museums, where visitors can be assured that they will be able to see several pieces gathered together in a single physical location. As curated Web sites gradually gain credibility, they serve as important display sites for audiences interested in electronic art but unsure where to find it. Existing sites of this type include those curated by Marjorie Luesebrink, Jennifer Ley, and Carolyn Guertin that assemble the best of Web-specific electronic literature: “Progressive Dinner Party” and “Jumpin at the Diner.”36 “Best of the Web: Museums and the Web,” a juried competition coordinated by Maria Economou, identifies museum winners in the categories of online exhibition, museum’s professional site, educational use, and research site.37 Even individually curated sites can provide valuable recognition; for example, the Digital Libarian site38 produced 35 See <http://www.iath.virginia.edu/pmc/contents.all.html>. 36 For further information, see <http://califia.hispeed.com/RM/predinner.htm> and <http://califia.hispeed.com/Jumpin/>. 37 See <http://www.archimuse.com/mw99/best>. 38 See <http://www.digital-librarian.com>.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity by Margaret Vail Anderson, a professional librarian, recommends a wide range of library resources. Other organizations are using the traditional commission and curatorial model for determining which individuals will receive electronic archive and display space. Although this strategy may limit the number of digital pieces available for presentation on a site, it does, through the commission function, provide the financial assistance needed to construct the work. Organizations using this strategy include Turbulence,39 a Web site sponsored by New Radio and Performing Arts Inc., and The Alternative Museum (TAM).40 Using a peer-review process, Turbulence selects up to 20 Internet art projects per year to commission and display on its Web site. In return for providing the commission and display space, Turbulence retains exclusive rights to display of the work for 3 years. Similarly, through its Web site, TAM sponsors the Digital Media Commissions program. Each year, with the help of a select committee of professionals from arts and technology fields, TAM chooses artists for whom it provides technical and financial support for the production of Internet art. Once completed, the projects are displayed together as an online exhibition. Community-based, grass-roots approaches to filtering for content, quality, and relevance are made much more feasible by the Internet. Such approaches are discussed in Chapter 5. AWARDS AND PRIZES The value of awards and prizes as a means to recognize outstanding achievements and stimulate further creativity in research is well known, but the numbers of prizes available are unevenly distributed across disciplines. Awards and prizes can be based on recognition— accorded for past accomplishment—or can be offered to motivate the creation of new work (e.g., an award based on the best entry at an exhibition). Some fields, such as chemistry and literature, have a number of prizes awarded by professional organizations,41 whereas other areas—including computer science—have relatively few. This situation places an extra premium on the ability to secure funding (e.g., grants, employment in a suitable job), a process that, under contemporary conditions, can inhibit risk taking. Especially needed in the present climate are awards specifically recognizing creativity in both artistic and technical areas. Noteworthy in this regard are the Electronic Literature Organization’s awards for the best work of electronic fiction and electronic poetry, which in 2001 provided substantial prizes of $10,000 each. Also exemplary is the Lyman Award, recently funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and administered by the National Center 39 See <http://www.turbulence.org/>. 40 See <http://www.alternativemuseum.org/>. 41 In addition, these established fields (and some others) derive further legitimacy through awards such as the Nobel Prize, the National Medal of Arts, the National Medal of Science, and the Pulitzer Prize.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity for the Humanities, recognizing the creative use of information technologies in the humanities, with a prize amount of $25,000. In 2001, the Prix Ars Electronica competition celebrated its 15th anniversary; it is a highlight of the Ars Electronica Festival program. From 1987 to 2001, 169 of these prizes with a total value of approximately $1.2 million were awarded.42 However, such opportunities for recognition in the digital arts remain rare. See Chapter 8 for a discussion of awards and prizes as a means of financial support for ITCP practitioners. THE GEOGRAPHY OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND CREATIVE PRACTICES Particular geographic configurations can support creative work in profound ways, even with information networks linking remote parties. There are hot spots of scientific, technological, scholarly, and artistic creativity, as exemplified by ancient Athens and Renaissance Florence, just as there are large areas where very little activity of this sort takes place. The explanations for this uneven spatial and temporal distribution are far from simple. As Harry Lime provocatively (and no doubt unfairly) observed in The Third Man, “In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed. But they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love. They had five hundred years of democracy and peace. And what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”43 However, Peter Hall has convincingly made a case, in Cities in Civilization,44 that creativity flourishes mostly in urban settings. Cities allow the specialized division of labor that is necessary for intellectual exploration and innovation. They can support specialized facilities, such as libraries, that creative work frequently demands. And they provide the conditions for effective collaboration among specialists.45 42 See <http://www.aec.at/> for further details. The Prix Ars Electronica competition attracted controversy in 2000 when the writer Neal Stephenson won in the Internet category, even though he did not enter the competition. See Matthew Mirapaul, 2001, “And the Best Internet Art Is . . . Virtually Anything,” New York Times, September 3, p. B2. 43 From the 1949 movie produced by Carol Reed. 44 Sir Peter Hall, 1998, Cities in Civilization, Pantheon Books, New York. Richard Caves has also examined arts clusters in specific cities. See Richard E. Caves, 2000, Creative Industries: Contracts Between Art and Commerce, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 45 State arts agencies track grants awarded to rural artists and organizations, which are an order of magnitude less (in dollars) than those going to urban areas. See State Arts Agencies, 2002, “State Arts Agency Funding and Grant Making,” National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, February.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity Information technology has changed the established geography of creativity in two ways. First, it has produced hot spots, such as Silicon Valley, that are clearly fueled by IT itself. Second, it has supported specialized division of labor on a global scale; made libraries and other facilities available online rather than at specific, privileged locations; and enabled geographically distributed remote collaboration. These geographical factors have implications for future progress in ITCP. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY HOT SPOTS The emergence of IT hot spots, in areas such as California’s Santa Clara Valley, Boston’s Route 128 corridor, and the Austin (Texas) vicinity, is a special case of the general phenomenon of industrial clustering. There are many examples of this. The automobile industry is clustered intensively (though not, of course, exclusively) in Detroit; the film and music industries in Southern California; the publishing industry, arts and design communities, and museums in New York City; the biotechnology industry in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and so on. However, it is worth noting that growth occurs both within and beyond the clusters. Once a cluster is firmly established, it is not difficult to see how it creates a regional advantage. Silicon Valley has become a magnet for IT talent from all over the world. It provides specialized facilities and opportunities that are not available elsewhere. The concentration of talent and activity within a relatively small area produces valuable knowledge-spillover effects. And the talent and resource pool available in the area makes it relatively easy to put together cross-disciplinary collaborations to innovate. The classic conditions for creativity are in place.46 The formation of such clusters is a more mysterious process, and it often seems highly dependent on unique circumstances at particular locations—with one thing building on another.47 In Silicon Valley, the story began with a tradition of technological innovation in the early 20th century and developed further with the creation of a high-tech industrial base around Stanford University in the 1950s—student networks and fluid relations between scientists and instrument makers were key factors in the area’s vitality.48 It continued with the growth of 46 For further discussion, see AnnaLee Saxenian, 1994, Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. 47 See Manuel Castells and Peter Hall, 1994, Technopoles of the World: The Making of Twenty-First-Century Industrial Complexes, Routledge, London, for stories of Silicon Valley and other such complexes. 48 Presentation by Timothy Lenoir to the committee at its January 2001 meeting at Stanford University. Also see Timothy Lenoir, 1997, “Instrument Makers and Discipline Builders: The Case of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance,” Instituting Science: The Cultural Production of Scientific Disciplines, Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity defense electronics during the 1960s and the emergence of semiconductor manufacturing and the microprocessor era in the 1970s. The personal computer industry built on this foundation and established a culture of innovative consumer electronics development. All that electronic hardware created a demand for software, and the hard-core technologists added yet another critical cultural layer. Finally, venture capitalists, lawyers, journalists, and marketers were attracted by the booming start-up activity, and in turn greatly facilitated that activity. In Silicon Valley’s boom years, this was a magical—and difficult to replicate—mix. The possibility of replicating Silicon Valley’s vitality, creativity, and economic success is obviously of great interest to policy makers who would like to produce similar success elsewhere.49 It is easy to identify some of the necessary elements in the magic mix, but considerably more difficult to combine enough of these ingredients in such a way as to produce Silicon Valley clones at other locations. Attempts have been made, with varying degrees of success, in Northern Virginia (United States), Sophia-Antipolis (France), Tsukuba (Japan), Hsinchu (Taiwan), and many other locations. Smaller-scale attempts have also been made, and some of these have focused on ITCP, which is less capital-intensive than some forms of IT production and engages a broader skill mix. An example is the western Massachusetts area and its Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASSMoCA) in a former factory complex, which has attempted to attract digital media firms to co-locate at the intersection of IT and the arts.50 A more subtle question is whether Silicon Valley itself can sustain its hot-spot status as conditions evolve and change over time. For example, the development of the World Wide Web and digitally distributed news, entertainment, education, and other content produced a need to engage graphic artists, designers, writers, and others with IT. These sorts of specialists frequently did not find the engineering culture and suburban ambiance of Silicon Valley particularly congenial; many of them preferred a more urban setting and a different set of cultural connections, and so they tended to cluster in locations such as the SoMa area of San Francisco, the SoHo area of New York, and the 49 See David Rosenberg, 2002, Cloning Silicon Valley: The Next Generation of High-Tech Hotspots, Reuters, London. 50 When MASSMoCA opened in May 1999, its mission was not only to function as a laboratory for contemporary visual and performing arts, but also to help drive the revitalization of the economically depressed town of North Adams, Massachusetts. The town had experienced a dramatic downturn in its fortunes as the national economy moved away from a manufacturing base toward information and technology services. See <http://www.massmoca.org/mission/index.html>. Also see Kristen Andersen, 2002, “Bangor Looks to Bay State Town as Model for Culture,” Bangor Daily News, October 24. For a broader discussion, see “The Role of the Arts in Economic Development,” Issue Brief, June 25, 2001, National Governors’ Association Center for Best Practices, Washington, D.C.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity A key challenge for the world’s established IT hot spots will be to add a vibrant layer of arts and design to the magic mix. greater Los Angeles region.51 As if to respond to this question, a local philanthropic and community development organization, Cultural Initiatives Silicon Valley, was formed in the late 1990s to promote the arts as a spur to creativity and community; it even used IT to create a crude cultural policy simulation game to link the arts and culture to the economic well-being of the area.52 It seems likely that in the 21st century a key challenge for the world’s established IT hot spots will be to add a vibrant layer of arts and design to the magic mix. If they are unable to do so, their advantage is likely to fade as the cultural content of digital products and services grows in importance relative to the more purely technical content. If a company is making chips or operating systems, then it is an advantage to be located in a strong engineering cluster; but if a company is making digital movies, it may be more of an advantage to be located in a cluster of artists, actors, and musicians. GEOGRAPHICALLY DISTRIBUTED CREATIVITY Traditionally, the creative energy of cities has depended on face-to-face contact. So has that of university campuses. Even Silicon Valley—which is a low-density, automobile-oriented suburban area— clearly depends for its vitality on its dense concentration of specialists who can readily interact with one another. But there is a downside to relying exclusively on physical proximity to foster creative interaction. It limits the available talent pool, limits access to specialized facilities, and limits cultural diversity. There can be strong reasons for creative talent to be based far from urban areas.53 So there is a strong case for taking advantage of digital technology to add remote participants and resources to the mix. These will include talent from developing nations, where IT has been leveraged not only for public access, but also for creating new kinds of work. 51 Richard Florida refers to these specialists as members of the “creative class,” who “seek an environment open to differences. Many highly creative people, regardless of ethnic background or sexual orientation, grew up feeling like outsiders, different in some way from most of their schoolmates. When they are sizing up a new company and community, acceptance of diversity and of gays in particular is a sign that reads ‘non-standard people welcome here.’ The creative class people I study use the word ‘diversity’ a lot, but not to press any political hot buttons. Diversity is simply something they value in all its manifestations.” See Richard Florida, 2002, “The Rise of the Creative Class,” Washington Monthly, May, available online at <http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0205.florida.html>. 52 See <http://www.arts4sv.org/>. The simulator was eventually packaged with a monograph that provides context. See John Kreidler, Kate Cochran, and Brendan Rawson, 2002, Great Cities: A Laboratory for Cultural Policy, Americans for the Arts, available online at <http://store.yahoo.com/americans4thearts/greatcities.html>. 53 For example, a study of Canadian artists suggests that “landscape appeal” inspires work and influences the decision by some artists to seek rural locations. See Trudi Bunting and Clare J.A. Mitchell, 2001, “Artists in Rural Locales: Market Access, Landscape Appeal and Economic Exigency,” Canadian Geographer 45(2): 268-284.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity Consider, for example, the production of the present report. Although the National Academies are based in Washington, D.C., the members of the team that wrote the report were scattered widely over North America and Europe; it would have been far too limiting to rely only on participants from the D.C. area. Some of the creative interaction necessary to generate the report was accomplished through travel to meetings at various locations, but a great deal of it was accomplished electronically—through e-mail and Web interactions. And this, of course, is now typical in group writing projects. In the field of architectural design, major architects now compete for work globally—not just in their local regions. They put together teams of consultants and specialized subcontractors, as necessary for the particular job, from around the world. And they rely on digital telecommunications facilities and increasingly sophisticated software to manage the geographically distributed, cross-time-zone process. As a result of the growing emphasis on remote collaboration, computer-aided design systems are starting to look increasingly like specialized Web browsers. Just as effective face-to-face collaboration depends on having the right sort of physical setting, effective remote collaboration depends on having the right IT tools. This reality has created intense interest in electronic design studios54 and similar facilities, and in computer-supported cooperative work tools—which may support either local or geographically distributed teams. These tools do, of course, vary a great deal by field; online collaboration in graphic design requires support that differs greatly from that needed for geographically distributed musical ensemble performance. TECHNOLOGY-SUPPORTED NETWORKS OF CREATIVITY The emerging pattern of creative production, in the IT era, seems to be one in which local clusters form intense nodes of activity within geographically distributed electronic networks. This model allows the formation of effective linkages between complementary but distant clusters. Thus, for example, the film industry remains clustered in Hollywood, but there is an active electronic link to London’s Soho area—which has particularly strong postproduction capabilities. Silicon Valley has a strong electronic connection to the complementary capabilities of Bangalore in India and the founding of a West Coast campus of Carnegie Mellon University.55 Universities are beginning to form strategic alliances, supported electronically, with overseas uni 54 See, for example, Jose Pinto Duarte, Joao Bento, and William J. Mitchell, 1999, The Lisbon Charrette: Remote Collaborative Design, IST Press, Libson. 55 See <http://west.cmu.edu>.
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Beyond Productivity: Information Technology, Innovation, and Creativity versities that have complementary strengths; the current Cambridge University–Massachusetts Institute of Technology alliance is a particularly interesting example. And industrial and financial corporations are increasingly aware of the advantages of locating activity clusters in the different markets and cultures they serve, and electronically linking them. In summary, creativity continues to have an identifiable geography, and the advantages that derive from unique, local subcultures continue to matter. But IT has overlaid onto this geography new possibilities for the aggregation of geographically distributed talent and resources into creative combinations. And, in particular, local creative clusters can now extend their potential by strategically forming electronic linkages to other clusters—maybe very distant ones— with complementary capabilities. One can begin to think of these clusters as the specialized professional neighborhoods of the global village.
Representative terms from entire chapter: