Is data killing creativity?

Data is a tremendously powerful marketing tool. It allows us to study, target and ultimately understand the behavioural patterns of our customers like never before. But what’s its effect on creatives? Those tasked with ideating, inventing and making?

Marketers, creatives, creative marketers – whatever our title we’re also consumers. And as consumers our information flow is being constricted. Unless we actively circumvent it, we’re being exposed only to what a self-programmed algorithm deems relevant. Each time we check our phone, log in to Netflix, check our feeds or hit up Amazon everything we’re presented with has been curated based on the last time we were there. In a way each of us is living in our own predictive algorithm-fed bubble. The internet was designed to democratize content and provide us with information we wouldn’t otherwise have. Now, in an Orwellian twist, the opposite is happening.

If the algorithms are exclusively presenting us with the what we find comfortable and familiar, where will inspiration come from? How will we maintain our much-needed supply of new ideas? The simplest solution may be to disconnect, to break our own patterns by exposing ourselves to new ideas in the real world. But maybe this is wishful thinking – we are creatures of habit. Maybe online-identity swapping will become a thing, a few hours in someone else’s digital shoes – just to see the world through a new lens.

There are a lot of questions yet to be answered in regard to the long-term effects of online living. But one thing is becoming increasingly clear: the more we consume, the more our consumer data will drive our future habits and stifle our exposure to new ideas. Inspiration is becoming scare and originality is at an all-time premium. It might be time for us creatives to burst our bubbles.