Digitally Mapping "sustainability" and "innovation" through Crafted Networks
by Radhika Gajjala — Bowling Green State University
February 03, 2009 – 09:13
The video embedded here is that of Rob Kalin, the founder of Etsy talking to the World Economic Forum about "a handmade marketplace" (gesturing at once to digital coding and offline craft as "handmade"), "local living economies" about the making of an "innovator."
In this video we see that Mr. Kalin raises various issues about economic concepts and value building through social networking. He uses terms such as ”Sense of Value,” “Sustainability,” and “Innovation”. These are terms also used in traditional as well as emerging theories of innovation as they relate to the developing world. Development models since the late 19th century have been faced with the discourse of innovation. Such a discourse of innovation has often meant a “diffusion” from Western worlds into so-called behind the curve “third-worlds”.
However, in the way that Kalin talks about innovation – specifically marketing innovations through the digital interface - we see that he is not talking about “innovating” the production of the goods being marketing. In fact he is suggesting that we recover handmade production processes. Thus he is talking of re-introducing "older" technologies such as hand-spinning, loom weaving, knitting, crocheting, handpainting, crafting, carving and so on. Interestingly enough his vision of simultaneous innovation and sustainability does not require the complete annihilation of production processes considered by the industrial and digital technological worlds to be outdated. Rather the literacies and skills we need to acquire to be a part of such online communities include learning to DO "handmade".
Social networks such as etsy.com, ravelry.com and the many many craft and knit bloggers that have surfaced online since mid 2000s are taking up what we would have in earlier generations of development and economics considered to be contradictions.
How might this reconfiguring practices of marketing, production, communication, identity and business? Is what we see in these digital environments actually a possible reconfiguring of economic and social practice? What do the reader’s think?
Some related urls:
- Social Networking and Digital Mapping Theme Week [February 3-6, 2009]
- The Comfort Women of the Digital Industries: Asian Women in David Fincher's "The Social Network"
- "I Cesaroni": the Innovation of Family Comedy in the Convergent Scenario
- Craft Cultures Online - Can they be "global"?
- TI Imposters: Clones, Innovation, and Iteration in Digital Games