When Dirk Knemeyer was in college, he set his life goal: “to measurably increase the happiness and well-being of the human species.” No small feat, but that ethos is what underpins his life’s work, and is the impetus behind the journalistic project Creative Next.
Creative Next, a podcast newsroom on the Civil Registry, was born out of a research project to explore the impact of automation on creative work. Knemeyer, a producer and co-founder of the project, is a writer and designer by trade and self-described social futurist, who found that beyond the odd conference talk and article, there was no outlet or publication truly tackling this fascinating and important topic.
Creative Next explores technologies at the intersection of creative work — collectively known as “SmartWare.” The podcast series dives deep into topics such as artificial intelligence, mixed realities, additive fabrication — also known as 3D printing — not to mention more emerging technologies such as identity graphing. Their audience includes scientists, teachers, designers, artists, writers, musicians, engineers, entrepreneurs and the like.
When Knemeyer and his Creative Next co-founder Jonathan Follett started digging into the research, they felt that any coverage on the future of automation seemed to narrow in on the “doom and gloom” angle.
But that’s not how they see it.
“The automation that’s happening is more what we might call augmentation: Where we’re getting tools where the machines are indeed doing thinking work, but rather than taking our jobs, they’re actually proving effective in assisting us and taking away some of the more mundane aspects of what we’re doing and enabling us to move into more creative, high-thinking strategic tasks and activities.”
That’s when Knemeyer and Follett decided to form Creative Next. From there they have grown the team to include three additional experts in their field — an art director, an audio engineer and an executive producer. With the first season of the show behind them, they are hard at work producing season two as we speak.
Funded almost entirely by Knemeyer’s software company We Create Goodness LLC, Creative Next is a not-for-profit newsroom, and all content is distributed free of charge. They do accept donations, but only from sources that allow them to maintain editorial independence and integrity.
Knemeyer describes the podcast, and current audience, as “small, but mighty.” But in order to make an impact at the level he committed to as a young man in college, both he and Follet believe it is time to begin distributing Creative Next in additional formats beyond the podcast as well.
“We want to get the word out as much as we can. I want tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people have access to [Creative Next], because certainly, that amount and more are the people who will be impacted by the things that are happening.
Getting beyond the podcast format which is growing and exciting as a medium, but still is relatively niche — certainly compared to the written word and the many ways in which that is disseminated — is a limiter to the influence and to getting the message out.”
Enter Civil Boosts.
Creative Next was accepted to the Civil Registry in April, and Knemeyer has been an active and engaged member of the Civil community since long before the Civil Registry officially launched in March. When he and Follett first were introduced to this new tool: Boosts, they were excited about the possibility of relying on this network also as a potential source of revenue for projects.
They see Boosts as an opportunity to raise the funds to support a new format for Creative Next and are planning to hire an editor that will help them turn the first season of the podcast into an e-book. Like the podcast, the e-book will be distributed free of charge and Knemeyer believes this will help grow their audience in a significant way.
The team is looking to raise roughly $800 over the span of three weeks from July 16 through August 5. These funds will go towards engaging an editor, someone who can help comb through the vast amount of content Creative Next has already produced, and edit this at a professional level in collaboration with the rest of the team.
While both Knemeyer and Follett have written extensively on AI previously, blogging on Medium and writing articles for publications such as Towards Data Science, neither have experience editing and compiling in this format. In order for the book to meet the standards of quality and integrity that Creative Next has pledged to adhere to in the Civil Constitution, it is pivotal that they work with someone who has experience in this area.
“We’ve gone through an amazing revolution over the last 10 to 20 years, where pretty much anybody can publish anything with a super low barrier to entry. That’s wonderful, but it has resulted in a lot of stuff being published that is not of the greatest quality.
Even though we could throw out an e-book without an editor, it wouldn’t be the level of quality that I as a consumer would read and say ‘this was great’.”
An editor will not only be comfortable working in a format the Creative Next team is unfamiliar with at the moment and can bring that expertise to the table in the editing process, but they will also have a strong sense of best practices for distribution and audience engagement.
Having run the numbers, Knemeyer says the final cost of the project will ultimately exceed the amount they are attempting to raise through Boosts, but to get this off the ground they are looking for support from the Civil community.
Creative Next and Arepita, the two newsrooms that will be running initial Boosts with Civil this July, have an added challenge in that they are limited to raising ETH only until credit card support is enabled in August. That means they will need to reach a crypto-savvy audience in order to reach their target, but with the support of Civil, they believe strongly they can get there.
To support Creative Next’s Boost please visit this page before August 6. Please ensure you have your cryptocurrency wallet enabled in order to support. For more details on how to set up a digital wallet, please see this explainer and our FAQs.
“I just want to thank Civil for creating this platform and infrastructure and community for all of us. I think the potential is limitless and hopefully, we’re able to achieve it together.”