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graphAccording to a study by Darren Lewis & Koen van der Wal, “Co-Creative” is expected to be one of the key buzz words of this year. A term refreshed as a result of web 2.0 technologies, it means that internet communication channels have created an environment where providers and clients are working closer.

Customers are more informed, knowledgable and are able to instantly access the reactions of others; all of which contribute to the creation of a sharp, insightful and increasingly valuable customer.

Using techniques involving crowdsourcing and community, customers are actively involved in the shaping of products and services. This improves customer loyalty, improves the creative process and helps satisfy the demands of a more innovation-thirsty customer.

The effect of co-creativity on research is potentially vast. The web is quickly becoming the standard platform for research due to its speed, ubiquity and interactive sophistication. Communities are rising on the internet as people find it easier to find others that share their interests. These communities can be observed, analyised and communicated with easily, and their views and opinions researched.

And it is emerging that these communities are not driven by financial reward. People are eager to voice their opinions and willing to contribute – if they are given the chance. The web has already had huge success in harnessing the power of the crowd using crowd-sourcing.

The combination of co-creativity with new and exciting research possibilites is leading to the advent of “online co-creative research”. This is the amalgamation of qualitative and quantitative methods into a research method that can back up insightful research with representative demographic numbers. And the great thing about this relationship is that this research is fast and caters for the evolving environment we now find ourselves in.

Correctly encouraged, and properly listened to, we can really engage with others and see a massive increase of the value of online communities.

I think that Spotify could become as indispensable to music as Facebook is to socialising.

Currently 320,000 of the 7 million people that use Spotify pay the £10 subscription rather than listen to the advertising based free version. That’s a good conversion rate – and they are now one of the top four digital accounts in revenue internationally to two of the major record labels. More and more people will come round to seeing that a fiver isn’t much to pay for the most accessible, well categorised and extensive collection of music ever.

It is a business model designed to entice users away from the illegal environment – and one that looks like it could succeed. It is still a young company (it launched in October 2008) but has already taken on the might of Apple by liberating iTune’s users who were shackled to Apple software.

But with rumours of Apple venturing into the world of cloud music – Spotify had better up their game. In an ideal world Spotify would become ubiquitous and remain fairly priced – but to do this it needs to become viral.

The first thing Spotify needs to do is allow people to categorise their playlists/albums in folders. With all that music available we need better ways to organise it – something better than a primitive single list of playlists. Spotify have confirmed that this feature is coming soon.

As soon as this happens it will be much easier to archive those truly great playlists and albums and get down to the exciting possibilities available.

The possibilities of playlists are yet to be fully exploited. Drowned in Sound have led the way by running Spotifriday – a weekly playlist with comments and links to the individual song reviews. Some celeb’s and musicians have created Spotify playlists – eg Radiohead, Gomez and Charlie Brooker. But it still doesn’t seem to have caught on properly – NME embed YouTube videos but don’t make any good use of Spotify playlists. Most of the music magazine websites I have looked through don’t seem to make much use of Spotify.

This is something that must change – Spotify playlists can be like the free CD’s you used to get with music mag’s, only a million times better. Now we have the possibility of a regular feed of free musical advice from people whose opinion you can come to really respect – music journalism is at its best when you can hear what is being discussed.

If this is something that the established music media industry won’t adopt – then hopefully bloggers will lead the way. Any young person trying to make a name for themselves needs to start exploiting the sociability inherent in Spotify –  and show how this massive music database can be fully adopted and utilised.

I look forward to seeing musical histories – or a critics favourite songs with notes explaining their reasons – songs tied together around a theme – musical documentaries – the list goes on. The social element of Spotify is great and I love seeing what songs and playlists my friends are storing. But the enterprise really needs leaders to take it to new levels.

Could reading the news become a game? In western society there is a clear division between work and play. But, according to Jesse Schell speaking at the DICE 2010 conference, this is all set to change. Drastically.

Drawing on the massive growth of games like Farmville (which has more players than there are twitter accounts), Mafia Wars and the X Box achievement system, he explains these games successes in terms of subtle psychological tricks. Suggesting that it isn’t the content or the imagination involved in these games that makes them so successful, but something else, something that is pointing towards a significant shift in human behaviour. In particular it is their psychological angle that capitalises on peoples desire for points.

People love points, as any gamer will know. And the crux of Joey’s talk is in how our love of points  is going to step outside of the game and straight into our everyday social and work life. Something else that people love, especially nowadays, is “the real”. Todays commercial obsession with authentic products, traditional lifestyles and organic and ethical concerns all suggest a desire to escape an increasingly fake, hyped, spun and commercial world. One area where this desire for the real is felt most strongly is in the creation and consumption of news.

A generation has grown up bored by a newspaper industry based on “churnalism”; is distrustful of newspapers that are susceptible to political favours; is tired of reading stories fabricated by PR professionals; and is looking away from traditional forms of media towards a badly needed new form.

The change is coming online as more people become increasingly engaged with news through the internet. Users are interacting with stories graphically; they are exploring stories on their own terms; they are easily entering into debate; they are no longer loyal to a single source of news. If a news story is of interest the avenues possible to explore it are rapidly increasing.

And how better to catalyse this changing engagement with news than to turn it into a point scoring game? How better to incentivise someone than giving them a real sense of achievement and progression?

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