Culture + Tech: Using Data Science To Enhance The African Creative Industry

It’s December 2019, we have reached the end of what we would think was a great decade. A decade characterised by new inventions, shifts in culture and schools of thought. The changes in society are evident and with technology enabling us to do more in an automated way, humans are buying themselves more time to think, feel and be in the moment as robots are taking over many of the tasks that we once had no choice but to do (manually). When humans have more time, they are afforded the ability of enhancing their creativity. Think about that for a moment, when we have more time, we will have the luxury of tapping into a more spiritual and creative side of the human experience, and the assumption there would be that humans will direct their focus to things that meaning.

Sure, technology has its dangers and hazards; and if powerful tech sits in the wrong hands or is created by people that do not prioritise the honest reflection of the diversity that the world carries by building inherently-biased applications, we will continue to have issues. The opportunities presented by technology, and as we enter into the new decade, are immense and with the growing human need for entertainment and creativity as we’ll have more time; adequately preparing for the creative boom by up-skilling ourselves in tech is a no-brainer. What do I mean by this? The new decade that we going into is one where most, if not all, tasks are going to be increasingly automated power by artificial intelligence. For any AI-driven tech, you often need large sets of data to and to extract value from it, we need the skills to operate the tools that will help us mine the data to deliver value. Data science, described as one of the most exciting careers of the future, is a field that is already being used for the entertainment space but the catch is that they are owned by the tech companies, your Apples, Netflix’s, Spotify’s etc. Just to break it down, data science is a described as a multidisciplinary field that uses scientific methods, processes, algorithms and systems to extract knowledge from unstructured and structured data. With data science as a tool, we can build tech that matters and will provide the platforms to springboard us into future.

Very few creatives are up-skilling themselves to be future-proof because the rules of engagement of industry are changing in the new decade and we ought to be ready for it. In the new decade, to survive and deliver maximum value to industry and the masses (in my humble opinion), you need to equip yourself with the right skills. Just being a traditional journalist won’t cut it, the media industry has drastically changed in the last decade and we saw many, once glorified, media houses tank because of failure to innovate in a highly fast-paced and digital world. Just being a musician won’t be enough, there are AI-driven bots that are capable of making music, and as much as the music industry started seeing increased revenue in the last few years; the tech companies have been integral in this growth. Now don’t me wrong, I am not saying that robots are going to take over the world, but they are going to get pretty and seriously close. As artists or supporters of culture, in our various professions/interests, can be owners of the channels through which deliver value to the world. The people who will own the best tech that will deliver convenience and value quick are going to be rulers of industry. This has already started happening in a lot of industries and everyone is scrambling to beef up their tech departments to prepare for the wave that is to come. Culture changes and moves with time and it can be beautifully and perfectly merged with tech to create new experiences for humanity.

To truly and radically transform the African creative industry, we need to take the necessary steps to drive innovation in the space. We need our own tech platforms, built by creatives for creatives and the masses to enjoy; from streaming platforms to AI-driven bots that will us with discovery, the facilitation of connections and problem solving. The creative of the future is a dynamic one; they can code, build actionable business models and are insanely dope creatives. We do not have a shortage of ‘insanely dope creatives’ in the African continent (admit it, Africans are nice) but we do have a shortage of in the creative space is tech talent that will drive industry forward. Culture and tech do not have to war. They co-exist symbiotically for the goodness and the betterment of humanity. As 2020 draws nearer and nearer, let us make the means as the creative industry to build tech that we can own, that is culturally-relevant and inherently designed for our people. With ownership embedded in our minds and rooted in how we move, we can encourage consistent innovation. I mean, we do live in a continent where humanity began, let’s show the world where the real juice comes from.

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About Author

Nkululeko Nkosi Creative entrepreneur, self-starter and writer are some of the words you can use to describe me. Inspired by the grit, rawness and passion you often find in underground and alternative culture. Based in the greatest city in Africa, Johannesburg.


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