Can web innovate or just educate?

In my last post I wrote about opportunities for exchange and ‘change’ of ideas.  We, as species, function in groups or networks, so it is logical that hubs or meeting points of these networks work as a breeding ground for new ideas and innovation.

So, I tried to extend the idea of coffee shops and cafes to more contemporary setting, namely WWW (by writing this I don’t remember the last time someone used term world wide web).

If cafes are places to exchange ideas and innovate, is the web enhanced coffee shop setting for innovation?

From my experience, sadly no, and I would certainly like your opinion.

In my experience, web has enhanced our ability to educate ourselves and collaborate. This in turn doesn’t guarantee an innovative idea or concept. I will go further and say, that web has provided with opportunities like never before. We are bombarded with information and impulses from outside. This makes mental focus difficult. Brain forms memories and learns, not in a second, but in a period of time. Stimuli has to be persistent to form long term memory, so in a short attention span culture we are developing, is the long term education possible? Are we able to think about ideas, concepts or will we be forever enveloped in pursuit of next adrenalin rush caused by new tweet, email, IM or animation, video, multimedia experience?

Democratization of information turned us into consumers of each other’s content. Wide selection of choices makes choosing difficult so we rather stay at the side and consume. Collaboration is effective, still it has certain goal, mission. Ideas are born in a state of relaxation, not in the executive mode. So we miss on the opportunity to chat and talk over the net. In spite all video chat possibilities, it is too disruptive to use it for in relaxed state of mind.

In summation, I think that in order to generate ideas and be innovative, face to face contact and exchange is still crucial. We cannot innovate via email, chat or Google Wave. Interface is the obstacle. So we are left with good collaborative and educational medium and, as far as that goes, its underutilized, in my opinion.

What do you think?

I'm currently working as an Account Planner in Direct Media. I'm interested in leveraging brand stories through digital media and helping brands fulfill their potential.

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