Creativity through Collaboration?Posted by Dave
The other day, I listened to an iTunes University audio podcast about a company called FastPencil and I was quite intrigued. FastPencil claims that they will revolutionize the book publishing industry with fast print-on-demand technologies and no-pain publishing via their sophisticated online workflow system.
That's not new, but what caught my attention is their social "collaboration capabilities". They make it possible for you to receive public input into your book as you make your way through the writing of it.
It's an innovative application of social collaboration on the web, but while near the end of writing a book myself, the idea of engaging the public now or at any time while writing it scares the hell out of me. To think that after every time I post my writing to FastPencil, I might have anyone and his friend posting on what I should do next and what I should have done differently blows my mind. Would I ever be able to stick to my vision? Would I ever keep the faith that my original idea was a good one? How do I deal with the mass of opinions that aren’t mine at all?
I wondered if this kind of collaboration might creep into other areas of creativity, including my first passion, advertising. While various forms of this type of creative crowd-sourcing and collaboration have made their way into the realm of advertising, everything I've learned and witnessed in almost 25 years of advertising creation would suggest that the answer is a pretty solid “no”.
Will an online collaborator tell us that they wouldn't buy the product with the version of the ad that we just posted, but they would if we changed it up a bit? Can anyone know what would truly engage them without first experiencing the action of engagement? I really don't think so. To these kinds of questions, we offer answers that are what we think we should be giving, that we believe that a person of our character and intelligence should do. Not what we would do. People don't know what creative concept will grab them until it does.
And I think the same goes for books, especially fiction. There needs to be a vision followed by creative growth and a progression along the way to build something that can thrill a bunch of readers. Design works that way too. It works best, and almost only, if an individual massages a strategic vision through to fruition. Too many cooks spoil the pudding in more than just cooking.