Is It Knowledge, Creativity or Innovation?

by Jay Deragon on 11/10/2010

I enjoy good conversations. Social media doesn’t  always engage relevant people in relative conversations because sometimes the context of ones content gets lost in the translation. Thus a “live” conversational exchange allows for corrections and adjustments to the context of what is being discussed.

Recently Dan Robles and I were having some dialog around the nature of social media specifically in context to knowledge exchanges, creativity and innovation. Dan’s thinking is always on the edge and his insights are very valuable and useful to those seeking the wisdom of what will be the next generation of social media.  Below is a summary of our recent exchanges and I thought they may be useful.

1. What Comes first, Knowledge or Creativity?

Creativity is innovation.  Innovation is proportional to the rate of change of knowledge.  Or you can say that innovation is simply related to – or dependent on – knowledge.  You cannot have one without the other.

Innovation in our sense is incremental – the combination of one or more knowledge assets yields an economic benefit – THIS INCLUDES SOCIAL ECONOMICS.  A baby knows about gravity + crawling on flat surface CREATES a way to climb down stairs. A person who has knowledge about what two other people know can match them for creative output.  A person who is a scientist and a musician combines them to discover new type of electronic music, etc.

2. How Creativity Transforms Knowledge

Unique and diverse combination of knowledge assets results in creative output.  Creativity in the creation of new knowledge.  Copernicus mixed optics with gravitational theory and proved a heliocentric universe.  This creates new knowledge and transforms all existing knowledge.  Huge multiplier effect (leverage) where creativity creates new knowledge that improves a lot of existing knowledge.

3. What is Unexpected Knowledge?

No such thing OR all knowledge is unexpected.  Knowledge exists in the human mind and is dependent on information which is dependent on data. There could be unexpected data that yields unexpected information that creates new knowledge. New knowledge combines with existing knowledge to yield creativity.  Creativity the verb can be anticipated but creativity the noun unexpected by definition otherwise it would not be new.

4. When Knowledge Becomes Useless

Knowledge never becomes useless it becomes history which can be quite useful as such. For example; Heliocentric universe rendered all other theories of planetary motion useless, except for historical perspective. So it is useful in perspective or metaphor to say the earth was flat, it took 500 years for the rate of change in knowledge to take hold over the church” etc. So obsolete knowledge can still serve historical perspective when discussing the rate at which things change.

5. When Knowledge Becomes Useful

Knowledge becomes useful as soon as it is shares with another person.  It becomes more useful or less useful depending on the number of people it is shared with.  Knowledge can only be shared in a conversation. Sure, you can write stuff down but this transforms knowledge into information.  The information can be shared  but the knowledge is dependent on you uploading information into your own knowledge asset inventory. When two people have a conversation, knowledge is shared directly and only when people have a conversation.

6. When Creativity Becomes Useless

Creativity is never useless since it is often the platform of more creativity.  It lives in the next iteration.  The Ipod may become obsolete but it lives in the IPhone and IPad just the same.

7. When Creativity Becomes Useful

Creativity becomes useful when it is shared, demonstrated, enjoyed, copied, applied, or improved by other people.  Creativity alone in the mind of a silent person is not useful.

Feel free to add to this discourse and add value to the possible insights.


PaulB November 16, 2010 at 11:51 am

I believe it’s important to distinguish between creativity, innovation and knowledge. Creativity (the idea) is not innovation (the invention) and does not necessarily translate into knowledge (the truth). Einstein’s theories were simply proposals of ideas; it was left to others to prove the theories were truth — and thus allow us to treat the ideas as knowledge. When J.C.R. Licklider wrote in 1963 of his creative idea for an “Intergalactic Computer Network,” he laid out most of the basics that today comprise the Internet, yet Licklider had no real knowledge of such a network, nor did he go on to innovate/invent it (he left ARPA before the ARPANet was started). Far from being just a matter of semantics, it is important to separate the three concepts when discussing their relationship to one another.

Gabriele Maidecchi November 11, 2010 at 10:58 am

Creativity is useful when it can be applied to become innovation in a particular field. Making a revolutionary new product, a new service (less relevant in my opinion), a new way of managing information.
The social media revolution is led by innovation which is driven by the creativity of people/founders of those startups who are leading it.

R R Dasgupta November 10, 2010 at 9:32 am

Great post (as usual) Jay. To me any human endeavour needs to be supported by knowledge. You are right on target when you say “Huge multiplier effect (leverage) where creativity creates new knowledge that improves a lot of existing knowledge”.
Where and how social makes an impact on Education is something I wrote about in a post in my blog –
From an enterprise context, I believe the social contracts between associates are far stronger than work contracts between them and their employers (people work for people, first) – I wrote a post

I share your belief “Creativity becomes useful when it is shared, demonstrated, enjoyed, copied, applied, or improved by other people. Creativity alone in the mind of a silent person is not useful” and the fact that we are standing at the edge of the next sigmoid of limitless growth of human potential . Potential that can now be channelized into performance in far better ways than we have ever imagined

Thank you for the wonderful post

SRDavies November 10, 2010 at 8:10 am

Possibly we can say that social media, innovation and creativity, are tools for creating the ‘new knowledge’. And that as innovators, there is a challenge for us in the use of social media not to allow the context of our conversation to be stripped away from the new distinctions we are creating.

Dan Robles November 10, 2010 at 8:05 am

COOL JAY! I remember these discussions!!! It was a while ago and you add so much practical clarity to my rambling “mathematoxicated” musings. This is so much analogous to how a monetary economy works that I am deeply encouraged that the new economy can arise as envisioned in social media. Thanks again for dissecting what must have originally been about 20 emails back and forth between us.

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