The Maker Movement and Guilds 2.0 - Part 4

(photo credit: Flickr - Nikki Pugh)

In Part 3 of this blog, I suggested a potential organizational structure for independent “creatives” motivated to pursue collaborative innovation and production.  Drawing on recent academic research on how historical craft guilds succeeded as a mode of business organization for more than half a millenium, I propose that today’s wave of diverse creatives might be willing to experiment with guild-type organizational structures founded on shared values and project-driven market opportunities. 

The other key trend that portends change in the way creatives might want to organize themselves in the future is the revolution taking place in how we make physical objects.  Dianne Pfeiffer, a recent graduate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, represents the vanguard of this new wave of creatives.  In her thesis submitted in 2009, she writes:

"With the confluence of digital fabrication, platforms for collaborative communication, and open-access approaches to development and production, real change seems inevitable in both the manner and means of how we design, build, and then propagate ideas about the physical objects in our environment."

From an innovation perspective, the democratization of digital fabrication tools and technologies is increasingly recognized as having disruptive potential.  What intrigues me is whether this democratization might gradually “shift” economic power back to the owners of creative skills in localized production from the owners of capital used for mass production in centralized factories.

In my view, this shift could be accelerated by the creation of a “platform” of re-usable assets and resources available to independent creatives who wish to pursue collective production.  Elements of a co-creation platform might include:

  • curated method of posting project opportunities (i.e., requests for proposals for commissioned works)
  • a tool to profile independent creatives and associated skills (i.e., localized variant of deviantART or the Behance Network)
  • crowdfunding tools for micro-funding of projects, creatives and guilds
  • online patronage tool (i.e., variant of SupporterWall)
  • curated virtual exhibition space
  • repository of information on local digital fabrication tools, hackerspaces and urban studios open to members
  • custom online marketplaces for creatives and their guilds (i.e., thanks to products like Shopify)
  • open education and training resources (OERs)
  • source of intellectual property licenses suited for co-created works and re-use of platform assets
  • material supplier resources such as Transmaterial

The Benefits of a Platform for Creatives

Platforms, especially in the information and communication technology sector, have been acknowledged as critical for establishing market leadership, value creation and competitive differentiation.  Though platforms are typically associated with industry and firm level behaviour, I am intrigued by the application of platform thinking to individual creatives and the diverse organizations associated with the so-called creative industries.

Some of the potential benefits of adopting a platform approach with respect to independent creatives, creatives’ guilds and other creative sector organizations might include:

  • the opportunity to broaden one’s creative capacities and complementary skills through self-organization
  • building dynamic capabilities through the mobilization of just-in-time resources to compete for real-time project opportunities
  • self-directed or group-based learning and training
  • high quality curated content
  • innovative means of accessing financing (i.e., crowdfunding and patronage tools)
  • build reputation and trust
  • accelerate the flow of information in the creatives’ community

The above points are by no means definitive but simply highlight some of the areas where a platform can create value for independent creatives and spur co-creation. 

Previous Posts:

Part 1 - Maker Movement and Guilds 2.0

Part 2 - Guilds 2.0 as a Novel Value Creation and Capture System

Part 3 - Shared Values of Guilds 2.0