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Creative technology - RTD problems and opportunities

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The creative economy
RTD and creative technology
Creative technology as an IT market driver
RTD problems and projects
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The creative economy

The economic scope of creativity is nicely defined in "The creative economy - how people make money from ideas" (John Howkins, Penguin Press 2001), in terms of fifteen sectors: advertising, architecture, art, crafts, design, fashion, film, music, performing arts, publishing, R&D, software, toys and games, TV and radio, video games.

The global market size of these activities is estimated to be $2,240 billion (1999) of which publishing, R&D and software account for $1,540 billion or 69%, and the US share is $960 billion or 43%. In the section of the El.pub web site devoted to creative technologies we concentrated on the use of technology in the sectors outside the main three. Electronic publishing is the principal subject of the rest of the web site, and R&D and software are considered as inputs to the other sectors and, for the rest of their creativity, outside the scope of digital content. [The creative technology pages have been updated and simplified in conjunction with the writing of this paper.]

Why look at creative technology in these sectors (broadly covering entertainment, arts and crafts) apart from the general creation of digital content? There are two immediate reasons. First, the penetration of digital processing into these sectors is relatively new, at least as far as mass market applications are concerned. Second, this penetration has been led by "creative people", a term that describes people trained as writers, artists, composers or in related skills, who have found new uses for computers and software, and have expanded markets as a consequence.

Throughout history, creative people's visions have pushed technology to new limits. The architects of pyramid and gothic cathedral, fashion designers looking for new materials and colours, photographers, composers and film makers searching for new effects, all helped fuel the demand for technical advance. The arrival of the cheap PC in the early '80s opened the way for the creative community to explore digital technology.

It is important not to think of this process as being confined to creative people. The creative artist may work to his internal goals but the results provide the rest of the community with enjoyment, and drive markets and employment. If artists were not in touch with the desires of the general population there would be no fashion or design industry, no art galleries and museums, no entertainment industry. One does not have to go as far as W. R. Inge, who wrote in 1948 "The effect of boredom on a large scale in history is underestimated. It is a main cause of revolutions..." to appreciate the importance of creativity in society.

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