Creativity is the new technology

I think that the 20th century was very much a technological century, at least in the economically advantaged parts of the world. So many technologies – of war, of medicine, of communication, of transportation and on and on – were developed, more than any other century in human history. (No source on that, I’m just pulling facts out of thin air. You’re allowed to do that on the interwebs). The advancement of technology was seen as one, if not the most important, of human pursuits.

I’ve been noticing lately that technology has been losing our attention lately. It hasn’t become unimportant – developments in medicine, transportation and energy production are still critical to our well being. But we’ve got such a surfeit of technology available to us that it’s just become part of the environment. It’s just there.

I think that the 21st century will be a century of creativity in the same way that the 20th was of technology. Much of the creativity, interestingly enough, will be based on the tools provided by technology, especially tools that allow us to create, collaborate and communicate. Consider this video, brought to my attention by Alec Couros:

World Builder from Bruce Branit on Vimeo.

Yes, technology does play a role in the story and yes, there was a lot of technology used to create the story. But what touched me as I watched this was the story and the people in it. It is a beautifully crafted short film, and I thank Bruce Branit for sharing it.

Consider the recent contest for the best job in the world. The contest is a brilliant concept from Queensland Tourism in Australia. Contestants had to create and upload a video of 1 minute or less describing why they are the best candidate. Stephen Downes pointed out the significance of this:

They are, of course, creative and imaginative and effective. Now for the kicker: ten years ago, not one student in a hundred, nay, one in a thousand, could have produced videos like this. It’s a whole new skill, a vital and important skill, and one utterly necessary not simply from the perspective of creating but also of comprehending video communication today.

Dean Shareski points out that this – video literacy including comprehension and creation – is one of those 21st century skills that get discussed so often. I’m in total agreement and I think that the foundational 21st century skill underlying many of the others will be creativity. If that’s the case, what will schools look like when they are designed to nurture creativity the way they nurtured technology skills like science and math in the 20th?

I’ll include the obligatory Sir Ken Robinson TED talk video here, since I’m mentioning creativity and schools in the same sentence. If you haven’t seen it, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, and if you have seen it I think it’s worth a repeat: