What is interesting about culture? This was the opening question of Steve Crossan the Head of Google Cultural Institute to kick off the REMIX Summit.
Organized by CultureLabel, a pioneer company in cultural entrepreneurship, REMIX summit took place last Thursday, 27th of September 2012 at Bloomberg Headquarter in up and coming Finsbury Square. More than two hundred of us eager to learn how culture, technology and entrepreneurship, oppose, attract or mesh together and create business value flocked to the state-of-the-art conference room of the US business and financial news giant to get challenged and... inspired.
We got more than what we bargained for! Thanks to the quality of the forty five speakers- a mix of arts experts, media gurus, successful entrepreneurs and high flyers from prominent corporations - who gave a lot of different angles to reflect on and practical examples to relate to. Thanks also to the diversity of the topics explored, ranging from cultural consumption and branding to running a creative business or what can we learn from the Olympic, everything contributed to the richness of the day.
So what is the quintessence of the conference? For me, it boils down to two bold statements.
Culture and technology feed from each other is the first one. Yes, I know it can sound like a living paradox but actually, they are. Crossan made a fantastic point when answering his own question - what is interesting about culture? ''it is the story telling side of it'' he stated - ''this is somewhat overlooked. Culture is a physical way to tell our story as human beings. An ever-evolving story that is subject to turmoil and crisis,'' he reflected.
Culture is indeed here to leave a trail. It is a testimony of the past for the benefit of the future. Culture is - or was? - a physical way to give a message to the world through paintings and sculptings, pictures and books. It seems only natural for culture and technology to team up.
In the last five years, the world has moved to a complete different state. A fluid, loose and faster state where technology is at the center of everything. Technology has become the privileged support to reach out to more and more communities. In turns they actually create more and more stories... more and more culture?
Actually, it pushes to reflect on a deeper change. Technology is not only a support for culture to spread - virally or not - it is also becoming an inherent element of any cultural creation.
We are creating with and through technology, replacing brushes and paint with tablets and pieces of software. Technology is the new form of culture breaking free from physical presence yet still graspable and, clearly, in tune with the new consumers, the coveted millenials.
This demographic group was born and raised with technology. They are visual, conceptual, purpose driven and are pushing the current status quo. They are challenging the values of the contemporary world to create something better, fairer, brighter. They want to keep being inspired and learn, they are putting pressure on the importance of content, renewed and always interesting content. Are these the first key ingredients to keep in mind for successful cultural venture? Technology and content to please the new rulers? Yes definitely!
Innovation and creativity are the pillars of any cultural technologic venture is the second second statement. Nothing new under the sun would you note? Let's spend some time reflecting on the definition of innovation and creativity, as it emerged during that day.
The definition encompasses the ability to grasp the potential of someone's else idea and push it further. This is how the Google Art Project started based on and using the technology of a Spanish start-up, google spotted the potential off. To me it puts the skill of networking, the capacity to observe and the importance of collaboration at the core of innovation.
The ability to disrupt business models even at times deprioritizing needs for monetization was then integrated to the mix. Bindi Karia - CEO of UK Operations Bizzsparsk, mentioned: '' BizSpark is the most entrepreneurial unit of Microsoft and is the perfect symbol of disruptive business models, ready to take a gamble and not risk averse. We offer a free platform for start-ups to grow from and build their future. By building their future as profitable business we eventually build our future income stream. Our mantra could be defined as Invest now in the future, help now for the future, and the monetization will happen.'' Put the sacrosanct financial needs in perspective is also part of the innovation game.
Finally the last element was the 'human touch' and its impact on creativity itself. The individual itself is at the core of innovation and creativity. It does resonate with the times we live in - a new definition of the Renaissance Man.
Marcus Davey CEO of the Roundhouse summed it up perfectly" creativity can only come from letting go of fears and trying new things. It requires from human beings to embrace the potentiality of failure, and to accept to be different, to be unique. When you are looking for creativity observe young children play. You will see - intense joy, you will see freedom and lack of prejudice. Without a conscious effort to keep your specificity to embrace difference, and refuse to comply to the norm, there is no creativity, there is innovation, there is no entrepreneurship.
The quadrature of the circle...for any cultural institution to succeed in the technology revolution it is inherently about going back to the source, the core of your purpose - observing and nurturing creative spirit, feed from it, take risks. The hardest part...take the first step. The fact that 250 people from all age, background and with different purposes - came along to hear about it, is the first sign that an evolution is brewing.