Creative Transparency

Last night, I watched the Japanese film “All About Lily Chou-Chou.” It is a brutal tale about 14 year olds in Japan. More astonishing is that before the film was made, the director/writer Shunji Iwai started it as an online novel in the form of a public billboard devoted to this fictional singer Lily Chou-Chou. Soon, readers were posting messages to the BBS and the lines between reality and fiction were blurring.

Today, here at the Fast Company office, I was introduced to the magazine’s editorial wiki developed by Socialtext. Here is another case of an open-ended, collaborative framework for creativity. I find writing in such a medium to be like jumping without a parachute. Iwai-san was quite daring to put his work out in front of everyone like that. Nevermind going the step further and letting his audience affect it.

But isn’t that the way it should be? Shouldn’t creative writing be as transparent as other steps in the process? Designers show mock-ups and various versions of projects to other team members; and we are always pushing transparency in leadership here at the magazine. Except for the editor, how many others see a story’s evolution? This is another place for innovation, letting team-members contribute to the copy writing in a project.

And what about taking the open creativity a step further? Letting users (readers in the case of Lily Chou-Chou) help shape the project or product? It is a similar idea as open source programming or democratic innovation. Would you put your next story in a wiki? Put up your company’s media kit up for everyone to touch and mold? What about on a public website?KO