Modern Collaboration

Filed in Point of View by on October 20, 2013 1 Comment
I found a Bee Hive
Photo by Kathy via Flickr

What are your thoughts about the ways the modern, connected age has affected collaboration and the exchange of created works? How about crowdsourcing and crowdfunding? Have you ever used these tools to purchases things you need or to raise funds for your business? What do you think about the Creative Commons movement for the responsible yet more free-flowing sharing of intellectual property?

As creatives, Gwen and I are right in the middle of this world. As we discussed in the post about free patterns, there are lots of things to think about. I’m in the process of getting a logo made, and crowdsourced projects are running about half or less the price of a traditionally-hired graphic designer. Is that bad or good for graphic designers?

On one hand, the ease of possession of content in the digital age makes many think that rights and collaboration are entitlements-if something is online, it should be free and available to everyone, right? So why do we have to pay at all? There is the real problem of work losing value and legitimacy. Should I just take the photos and let the client who is so inclined do all the editing themselves or should I retain that right as part of my creative process? In the days of film, that was not an issue. Should I go ahead and design patterns for the friend of a friend who can’t find anything online that she likes, but doesn’t want to/can’t afford to pay me?

On the other hand, many feel that the overwhelming benefits of a more fluid exchange of information and creativity far outweigh the pitfalls. Everyone has access to tools, goods and services they need, they can choose whether or not and how much to pay, and productivity and creativity increase all around. If I design for free and the user shares my work, or the client gives me credit for the image she edited, isn’t my name out there? Doesn’t that benefit me in the long run? Does it devalue my work if I work out a barter or exchange of services with the knitter?

As a user, I see both sides of this as well. I use Open Office and Fontsquirrel and other shared works every single day. I truly value the work that goes into development, stewardship and updates. I voluntarily donate to shareware creators, and it feels right. Usually I’m generous. So what’s the difference between that and just buying MS Office or the Apple productivity suite? Other times I’m perfectly willing to just pay for the product.

What’s the deal? Is it complicated or simple?

What do you think?

(Naturally, there’s a TED Radio Hour episode you can refer to about some of these issues. Oh, and another one here. You knew that was coming.)


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