Cocreation: everything new is old again

Some suggest the rise of cocreation reflects some new quality of the emerging age (of creativity, of dreams, of imagination). (From Co-creating unique value with customers):

The traditional system of company-centric value creation (that has served us so well over the past 100 years) is becoming obsolete. Leaders now need a new frame of reference for value creation. In the emergent economy, competition will center on personalized co-creation experiences, resulting in value that is truly unique to each individual.

However, co-creation is not a new frame of reference. Cocreation is the fundamental function of culture. What is new is the speed and the fidelity at which cocreation can occur. Response systems allowing co-creation are a natural facility of human social networks, but technology has increased the speed with which individual customers can respond, and the speed with which creators can iterate and publish to the network.

The quality of iteration is also better because the fidelity with which the response and iteration can be transmitted is higher. By contrast, in the 1860s, if you live in Portland and purchased a rifle built in Kentucky, then disagreements you and other wide-flung consumers might have could conceivably make their way back to the creator, but it would take a long time. Likewise, it'd be next to impossible for the creator to immediately retool. More likely, changes requested by consumers would make their way into the design of the next item.

This delay is probably true (for now) for all physical objects. In fact, you can probably corrolate both quality and frequency of iteration against an object's cost of production.

Using the 1860s example above, if you disliked a song you heard, and your dislikes made their way back East to some minstrel who sang the song, then it's possible the song could change the very next time it was sung.

Regardless of silly examples, culture guarantees cocreation. Culture ensures cocreation even if time required to communicate responses and/or iterations can take longer than one generation.

That's kind of cool.

(Related thoughts in another post here: "Making things and telling stories: two ways we share experience")