Why Are the Most Creative People in Business Skipping Out on Web 2.0?

These days, we're all public figures. We're sharing our friends on Facebook, our photos on Flickr, our music on Last.fm, and our goofy links insightful observations on Twitter.

So when Fast Company set out to capture the personalities of our 100 Most Creative People in Business, we started--where else?--by looking for online profiles. Melinda Gates (#2), for example, has more than 50 Google News hits. J.J. Abrams (#14), Tyler Perry (#21), and Pharrell Williams (#36) all have lengthy Wikipedia entries and flashy professional Web sites. And searching Tyra Banks (#49) on YouTube spawns 21,000 video clips (and several cheap laughs).

inter-NO!But when it comes to sharing themselves--not just their businesses, but their business--our creative class clams up. Only 33 have Twitter accounts. Just 19 maintain personal blogs. And four have Flickr pages. In fact, when we emailed bicycle designer Larry Chen (#89) for a link to his blog or photo account, he started cracking jokes. "I don't have anything like that," he replied. "I use my computer for two things: Drawing and flight simulation games."

We'd be lying if we said we weren't surprised. After all, we've written time and time again about the business-savvy of social networks, and we've commended companies like Zappos and Comcast for getting personal on Facebook and Twitter. We also chose our 100 most creative people, in part, for their willingness to embrace the unfamiliar. Why, then, are they largely skipping out on Web 2.0?

Louis Gray, a seasoned technology blogger, blames the "corporate" mentality. Even though it seems like everyone (read: Oprah) is talking about Twitter, he says, the service primarily caters to young people and early adopters. Ditto Flickr and Last.fm. Older, more experienced CEOs and CEO-types--many of whom populate our list--are more reluctant to play along, especially if they don't see any significant ROI on their 140 character missives.

"We saw the same thing happen with blogs," Gray explains. "Big businesspeople aren't just going to start sharing themselves on the Internet for no reason. They need to hear about these services from trusted third parties," such as friends, family, analysts and PR consultants. "Plus," he adds, "does Jonathan Ive (#1) really have time to Twitter?"

scared of internetsAlexandra Patsavas (#29) says it's not only about the time sink. As part of her business, Chop Shop Music Supervision, she searches for new music to enhance popular TV shows, like Mad Men and Grey's Anatomy. Recently, she's taken to MySpace, where bands upload full tracks and post contact info. ("It's incredibly helpful," she says.) But Patsavas would never use a service like Last.fm, which publishes music you play on personal time. "I'm not interested in constantly updating people about how I'm doing and what I'm listening to," she says. "I think it's arrogant."

To be fair, roughly a quarter of our creative class has embraced social-networking services. We did, after all, recognize Twitter founder Evan Williams (#34) and Facebook wunderkind Dave Morin (#16). And while Apple's Ive may be too busy to Tweet, Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior (#33) somehow finds the time--and it hasn't hurt her business.

Even non-tech-types, like Neil Gaiman (#40), Damien Hirst (#22), and Gary Hustwit (#74), are rapidly filling our 100 Most Creative Twitters feed. "My business is digital and young and vibrant, and so are the lifestyles of people I do business with," explains Lisa Ellis (#50), an avid Twitter-er and a partner at Fireman Capital. "So for me, it seems natural to have a strong online presence."

Could Ellis and Co. be harbingers of Enterprise 2.0, a business world where big-name companies--and their execs--are as accessible as everyday teenagers? Or will CEO-types side with Patsavas, and keep their thoughts (and pictures and songs) to themselves?

We're not sure, but we'd love to hear your thoughts, feel free to leave them below. Then friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our flickr photo feed and watch our YouTube channel. Unlike some people, we're way down with enterprise 2.0.

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32 Comments

  • Nick Kempinski

    I think there is a privacy needed for creativity.

    I read over at Lateral Action (http://lateralaction.com/artic... an interesting story of Michelangelo. I think there is a truth to it.

    Being in Social Media may be too much spotlight to have a safe creative place.

  • J C

    Perhaps it is odder that Fast Company thinks the use of Facebook, Tweeting, etc. is a prerequisite for a creative mind? Maybe FC and its readers can take a lesson from these most creative people?

  • Sandra Miley

    The creative top 100 have full lives and don't necessarily need social media to connect outward given the world generally comes to them. They simply connect via other forums. Not surprised by the findings.

  • Barry Dennis

    !. Time and ROI
    2. Time and ROI
    3. Time and...you get the picture.
    The level of suspecting and prospecting that Twitter offers is just that, a certain level, and not for some, not for everyone.
    Better, we should think of Twitter as an IM about a Rave that we call tell our followers about. Or, a social event your local followers can go to.
    But, what value a Tweet to your corp CEO friends who are all over the world about your new Day Planner software?
    Anything of value takes more that 140.
    I use Twitter (sometimes) to post a link to a Blog; sometimes to a neat site.
    But again, the C -level execs need real meat, real rational purpoose for engaging.

  • T I

    I use to have my own ISP and managed 20 people for two years. I work in technical support now as a Linux/Unix sytem administrator. I probably use the WWW 30+ hours a week. Web 2.0. What was the impact...not that many sites are using far flung "unreal" technologies that I can see. They have quit pushing the envelope...development and ideas are DEAD.

    The most important thing preventing this, in my opinion is that there is NO bandwidth available where many people live! I cannot get it in Chicago, Illinois on the Near South Side so, as far as any future technologies go I and many others am at the bitter end of DSL line until AT&T, Sprint, etc., get it in gear and install a 10MB/sec line to our residences. I am far below 750k!!! I barely get non HD YouTube video without hesitation in the stream at my residence.

    We ALL like to talk about technology but the corporations in charge are milking the technology they have installed and are not rolling out anything. We are dead in the water.

    "...we'd love to hear your thoughts, feel free to leave them below. Then friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our flickr photo feed and watch our YouTube channel."

    I use to use Digg.com heavily, but the politicisation by socialists two years ago drove me off. I never went back. I've had "websites," dozens of them and they all have to be maintained, which is very time consuming. Because of privacy issues, and time constraints I am not interested in Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. I also am not that interested in telling every stranger in the world what I am doing 24x7x365, and creating a permanent record of what I do every moment of the day! People using these technologies really need to buy a clue! Privacy and personal time are way under rated by the age group using these technologies.

    I do use flicker and YouTube sparingly. The people that I want to spend time with do not use these technologies, they are my immediate family, neighbors, etc. If I was to set the sites up I would be reaching out to....who?

  • John Rallison

    I don't twitter or blog. I can see their value as a calculated part of relational marketing. But, social networking consumes so much time that it had better be an integrated part of a larger plan. I have started a blog a couple of times and let it die because I just couldn't see the value of the time. I think I will start a blog again at some point, but before I do, there will be intentionality and focus to the effort so I can justify the time.

  • Arthur Charles Van Wyk

    The question I always asked myself about Tupac Shakur's public gangster persona was: "If he has to write rhymes, record tracks, do public appearances, live performances and general promotion of his product, when does he have time to actually be a gangster?"

    This could be the same reason why we do not have many creatives making use of social media.

  • Tweet Feeds

    Chances are that the list of your most creative people in business represents a dying if not dead way of doing business. Many of this people might not understand Web 2.0 at all. They are still stuck and focused on Web 1.0 thinking with web sites, email and industrial age behaviors and techniques. Empowered customers and communities are foreign to people who are used to broadcasting and undermining. Let's see how well they fare in a new world.

  • Tania Yuki

    I think there is still a lot of fear around personality and sharing of your personal life, and it is understandable that the more public you become, the more private you perhaps want to become... (excluding, of course, the phenomena of the reality TV cast member).

    It's really a question of balance.

    Increasingly we will see more and more participation though - in as much as people want and are able to connect directly with the companies and leaders they trust, this will become more of an imperative. We become spoiled, and the expectation kicks in.

    Otherwise - fairly or unfairly - it may look like there is something to hide
    --
    follow me on twitter @taniayuki

  • T I

    I use to have my own ISP and managed 20 people for two years. I work in technical support now as a Linux/Unix sytem administrator. I probably use the WWW 30+ hours a week. Web 2.0. What was the impact...not that many sites are using far flung "unreal" technologies that I can see. They have quit pushing the envelope...development and ideas are DEAD.

    The most important thing preventing this, in my opinion is that there is NO bandwidth available where many people live! I cannot get it in Chicago, Illinois on the Near South Side so, as far as any future technologies go I and many others am at the bitter end of DSL line until AT&T, Sprint, etc., get it in gear and install a 10MB/sec line to our residences. I am far below 750k!!! I barely get non HD YouTube video without hesitation in the stream at my residence.

    We ALL like to talk about technology but the corporations in charge are milking the technology they have installed and are not rolling out anything. We are dead in the water.

    "...we'd love to hear your thoughts, feel free to leave them below. Then friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our flickr photo feed and watch our YouTube channel."

    I use to use Digg.com heavily, but the politicisation by socialists two years ago drove me off. I never went back. I've had "websites," dozens of them and they all have to be maintained, which is very time consuming. Because of privacy issues, and time constraints I am not interested in Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. I also am not that interested in telling every stranger in the world what I am doing 24x7x365, and creating a permanent record of what I do every moment of the day! People using these technologies really need to buy a clue! Privacy and personal time are way under rated by the age group using these technologies.

    I do use flicker and YouTube sparingly. The people that I want to spend time with do not use these technologies, they are my immediate family, neighbors, etc. If I was to set the sites up I would be reaching out to....who?

  • John Rallison

    I don't twitter or blog. I can see their value as a calculated part of relational marketing. But, social networking consumes so much time that it had better be an integrated part of a larger plan. I have started a blog a couple of times and let it die because I just couldn't see the value of the time. I think I will start a blog again at some point, but before I do, there will be intentionality and focus to the effort so I can justify the time.

  • John Rallison

    I don't twitter or blog. I can see their value as a calculated part of relational marketing. But, social networking consumes so much time that it had better be an integrated part of a larger plan. I have started a blog a couple of times and let it die because I just couldn't see the value of the time. I think I will start a blog again at some point, but before I do, there will be intentionality and focus to the effort so I can justify the time.

  • Danijel Coric

    There are so many successful people which don't disclose too much detail about their life or business. And they don't have problems being successful because of that Why should we publicize everything. Some things should remain "sacred". As a guy under said, it's pure narcissism- people trying to look cool on line while they maybe do something totally boring in reality. These networks brought a shitload of clutter to virtual space that consumes time and undermines worker efficiency. It comes from experience - how can someone be work efficient if he's chatting with me for an hour while at work and checks photo albums and statuses of friends on Facebook to be up to date?

  • Michael Minor

    Well, 1/3 (33 of 100) have Twitter accounts as you say. Whatever the number of actual Twitter users may be, no one is speculating that it's 1/3 of the population (that would be 100 million Twitter users) or even 1/3 of adults (what, 50 million?). So, 33 of 100 is actually high if compared to the total population.

  • Michael Minor

    Well, 1/3 (33 of 100) have Twitter accounts as you say. Whatever the number of actual Twitter users may be, no one is speculating that it's 1/3 of the population (that would be 100 million Twitter users) or even 1/3 of adults (what, 50 million?). So, 33 of 100 is actually high if compared to the total population.

  • Loraine Antrim

    Embracing social media, whether you are a "creative" business type or not, should be a strategic decision, but it's a time-consuming task. Plotting out a social media strategy for you as an individual or for your company, requires you to then marshal forces to execute on it. It IS a time vacuum. Christian commented that he devotes 10 hours a week on social media. For many business people, time is the key. However, if wisely invested, that time spent can extend your personal brand, create buzz about your product or service and solidify customer relationships. So...it seems like a no brainer: FIND the time and get social!

    Loraine Antrim, Co-founding Partner Core Ideas Communication http://thecxomindset.blogspot....

  • Loraine Antrim

    Embracing social media, whether you are a "creative" business type or not, should be a strategic decision, but it's a time-consuming task. Plotting out a social media strategy for you as an individual or for your company, requires you to then marshal forces to execute on it. It IS a time vacuum. Christian commented that he devotes 10 hours a week on social media. For many business people, time is the key. However, if wisely invested, that time spent can extend your personal brand, create buzz about your product or service and solidify customer relationships. So...it seems like a no brainer: FIND the time and get social!

    Loraine Antrim, Co-founding Partner Core Ideas Communication

  • Leonard Kish

    I don't get people's opinion that sharing with social media is arrogant or narcissistic. It seems to go against the whole notion of sharing information. Sharing of information that is of value to other people is like free microconsulting, and can be a valuable public service.

    Sharing valuable information helps people. Helps them select music, doctors, solutions to complex problems. These are just communication tools, and they can be used any way that people might wish to communicate.

    As long as we stay honest in our sharing, we all help get a clearer view of our world, we get a little bit closer to reality.

    The tool is not the motivation to use it, nor the motivation of people to consume its outputs.

    Arrogance is when you take up someone's time with information they don't want. Fortunately, with social media, users still have a lot of control over what information they choose to spend their time on.