I’m doing a little volunteer research/community project for GAFFTA — I do love those art/tech non-profits! — so I was reviewing a report we did more than a year ago when I was still the Dorkbot overlord in Seattle. We did this research in collaboration with Genevieve Tremblay (Cultural Entrepreneurs) for BRINC — Bell Red Incubator — to inform the BRINC development project and other local arts/tech/cultural development initiatives. You can download the full report, but here’s the summary:
In an online questionnaire study of 120 technology creatives in the Northwest:
“We found that the targeted community of technology creatives is largely comprised of individuals who have careers in technology, but were pursuing creative interests in the domains of visual arts, maker projects, and entrepreneurial projects. The open-ended responses to the questionnaire provided a rich image of creative technologists who worked in the software industry (software engineers, web designers) but who were actively interested and pursuing projects that incorporate more physical computing: wanting education and access to electronics, metalworking, microcontrollers, prototyping machines, and so forth. In other words, people who used technology for more ephemeral digital software in their day jobs sought to incorporate technology into more physical projects in their creative pursuits.”
“They were particularly interested in knowledge sharing, networking, and collaborative opportunities, with many expressing an interest in a shared, membership based incubation space for access to other people. Those who did collaborate indicated their collaboration groups tended to be 3-5 people. Even those who worked primarily on solitary projects expressed an interest in shared spaces because of exposure to knowledge and conversation around creative projects. These results are consistent with reports of the creative process described by Gardner in Creating Minds , where he illustrates that even solitary writers such as Tolkein were creatively inspired by regular meetings where they describe their works to each other.”
“For this population of technology creatives, lack of time and education were the greatest constraints in their creative pursuits, not finances — which is distinct from other types of artists. Many reported they already had a space for independent projects, and were particularly interested in collaboration spaces for access to peer education and discussion.”
It will be interesting to see how these technology creatives in San Francisco compare to those in Seattle. My impression is there is less of a focus on more hands-on technology projects, and more of a focus on digital art.