Big Data vs Creativity

What Is Big Data?

Data has always been stored by businesses. Why is it so different now? Essentially, all this data was floating around and people simply did not know what to do with it all. The introduction of ‘Big Data’ as a categorisation of absolutely all data ever stored by a business, has brought the importance of analytics to the forefront of strategy. It is the aggregation and analysis of data to optimise performance, through finding key consumer-driven trends and patterns. How is this concept transforming modern society?

Living In a House of Cards?

Netflix has shown us just how Big Data is transforming life as we know it. Despite their lack of experience in creating their own masterpieces, the minds at Netflix decided to come up with a new show, which they practically guaranteed was going to be a big success. How, you ask? Big Data. Netflix has access to a whole load of data. They used this information to analyse viewer histories; for example: which shows are rated highest; which episodes are re-watched the most; and even what scenes have been rewinded! On top of all that, they identified that people watch David Fincher movies from start to finish, we rate the British version of House of Cards highly, and everyone loves Kevin Spacey. Data doesn’t lie! With this, they created a show which has become one of the highest rated shows of all time within just three years of its release – “House of Cards”.

If you, (like myself!), sat there deeply engrossed in a binge session thinking to yourself “who comes up with this stuff?!”, then you now know that the answer is actually, data. It was always going to be a hit.

Now this comes with its own side of controversy. How can something that’s supposed to be the work of great creative minds, actually turn out to be pure, simple formula? Does that mean creativity is overrated? Out-dated? Creativity is dead? Or is this all just a tool that we can use to progress our quality of life? It could be thought of as a creative guideline, which just gives you that much needed nudge in the right direction, perhaps giving creatives the opportunity to innovative, knowing full well that their work is very likely to be well received. But then again, perhaps this pressure, this not-knowing, is what drives true innovation?

It’s not just media that big data is playing a pivotal role in. Think of the fashion industry. Companies can analyse customer-buying patterns and tailor both their marketing and their product design. However, have we not always been accustomed to this already? If you know double-buckled shoes sell more than single, you will put that second buckle onto the new line of monkstraps you are about to design.

Seems like common sense when you think of it like that, right? What if this concept was to extend to art and artists? Gone will be the days of the sudden shock of a young Salvador Dali or a cubist Picasso, as everything will be pure formula. Data from recurring museum visits, as well as art sales, etc., could show that a ‘successful’ painting is one that has water running in the background, trees scattered around and perhaps a path leading into the distance. Therefore, why would anyone purposefully not take this into consideration when looking for inspiration for a masterpiece?


Now, of course I’m playing Devil’s Advocate here. I sincerely believe this is all merely a tool we can use to better everyday life. There’s one thing that still remains in our hands: thinking! It’s all well and good having all this information out there, but it still takes a great mind to put it all together, make sense of it all, and then be able to create something out of it. Big Data and creativity are partners that can carry the world forward far quicker and more efficiently than either of them could on their own. Embrace it.