Does the Internet Inspire Or Stifle Creativity?

Here’s an interesting question, does the internet threaten creativity or nurture it?,

It depends on how you look at it. When we think about the internet, we think of many things: websites, blogs, social networks, social media, etc..

All these components of the internet let us express ourselves in one way or another, connect with people we know, meet strangers, learn from others and create with others. But, while all this is great, the other side of what makes us human also makes it onto the internet.

Really, the internet both inspires and stifles creativity, here’s how…

How the Internet threatens creativity

Creativity, by it’s nature, is about bravery. So, to think creatively is to challenge the status-quo. Great!

One of the common benefits of having access to so much information and people is that we can find answers rather quickly. But this benefit has immediate consequences when we stop paying attention to human nature, for people will congregate around the same ideas on social networks which eventually leads to group-think.

What does that mean?

A few years ago I wrote a piece on how social media is group-think on steroids because it puts critical thinking to sleep. Critical thinking and creativity go hand in hand, but the megaphone that is social media turns people into lambs drinking the same kool-aid; making critical thinking irrelevant.

Where all think alike nobody thinks very much, and thus the status-quo stops being challenged.

See, the internet doesn’t make us more stupid because, in general terms, we’re stupid and shallow to begin with. But it may help some of us to become dumber and more shallow faster and more efficiently.

Simply put, the internet (if we let it) doesn’t eliminate human bias; it amplifies it.

How the Internet nurtures creativity

Not all is gray, for many great things happen because of the internet. I, like others, have used the internet to solve problems by collaborating with people from around the world. These connections came about because of serendipitous exchanges on Twitter and other mediums; the type that fuels innovation.

The advantage of the internet is open communication, so the simple act of sharing a thought on Twitter can become a conversation. Same goes with blogging, it brings like minds together. This is a good example of how the internet nurtures creativity. Beyond my immediate family, I’ve met all the most valuable people that I know through the internet.

My take is that just like innovative businesses understand that group-think is an enemy of innovation and thus create mechanisms to counter it, if we understand how this dynamic applies on the internet, we can counter it.

It’s important that we do because the future of work will be much more digital and collaborative than it is today; I guarantee it.

Bottom line: The Internet has the power to both bring out the best and worst in us. I foresee we’ll be debating whether or not technology make us stupid well into the future, but let’s put it to rest right now: Technology doesn’t make us stupid, it makes us smarter.

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