TED Conversations

Scott Townsend

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Just like an incubator . . . but completely different.

There’s a big question that should be burning a hole in everyone’s head. Never before in history have so many people had so much knowledge and so much technology to make things happen. Yet never in history has the gap rich and poor been so vast and so vicious or the world so chaotic. What’s going on? With all we have, with all we know and with all we can do, why is the world in such a bad way?

I've been thinking that the answer is in how we harness, channel and direct creative energy. Think about this: the traditional structures for putting creativity to work - innovation centres, think tanks, creative agencies . . . are all built on structures designed primarily to generate revenue. Now that’s fine, we love money just as much as anyone else. But the problem is that you end up with a structure designed to do one thing (make money) and use it for something different (build creative change for good).

Now think back to the old artists collective or the studio model. A co-operative model where a group of highly passionate, highly skilled individuals would share a physical space and resources and feed off each others talents, abilities and “networks” to push the creative envelope to place nobody had ever thought of. These were the most creative places in the history of our species. They changed the world. For good.

A Tech Hatchery would use that model to bring creativity into the world of technology and business to change things for good. It’s different to an incubator. It's a way of tapping into an ocean of gifted, talented individuals who are out there beavering away in obscurity, waiting (or not) to be discovered. They’re passionate, they’re unique and they’re amazing. A T.H. would connect these people through an online framework, bringing them together in true communities, sharing physical work / learning / creating spaces, resources and infrastructures. Network? Perhaps. Playground? Absolutely. Think about it.

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    Nov 29 2012: sorry to keep posting, scott, but your topic has kind of gotten under my skin. I tend to be pessimistic, especially when people try to create a new org, cause I'm thinking there's already so many orgs. To me another org just presents another bunch of paperwork, another bunch of administrative costs.

    My question to you is, what new ideas do you have, or are you aware of, for fighting world poverty? Because you're suggesting that there are undiscovered creative people out there with great new ideas for fighting world poverty, but for you to suggest that you have to have met these people and heard these ideas and decided they are great. So what are they?

    I tend to believe almost the opposite of you, that creativity cannot be repressed, and it cannot remain in the shadows. A good idea will find the light, it will bubble up, it will get people talking and doing. If it doesn't get them motivated through an org, it will get them motivated individually, and they will work to put this idea into actualization.

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