Creatives vs Coders – who owns the future?

Creatives vs Coders – who owns the future?

Rapid technological change now challenges the traditional creative model of “ideas people” and “production people”. If you don’t know how it all works, can you really imagine its full potential?

As ideas get more complex, and technology platforms change, the tech becomes ever more complex to deliver. Having an idea is one thing, making it work is another.

It’s a burning issue, so we posed this question to a number of industry leaders to get their perspective:

Creative Technologist | Techdept

Arthur Tindsley
Creative Technologist at Microsoft

 In this time of exponential technical growth, it’s easy to assume that a strong knowledge of technology is one of the most important assets a creative could have. The rapid growth of technology can be baffling, even for people who dedicate their whole careers to understanding it.

It’s for this very reason that I believe we need, more than ever, creative minds that are free from the constraints and confusion of technology. It’s far too easy to assume that because ‘coders’ hold the key to technology that they have all the answers, but more than ever we need ideas that sing out above any one medium, ideas that can transcend specification sheets and technical constraints.

This doesn’t mean that Creatives have an easy run, they need to collaborate and trust ‘coders’ like never before. Neither own the future without Meaningful conversations, collaboration and trust.

Techdept | Technology Agency

Noel Franus
VP / Experience Director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky

Creatives vs. coders, idea people vs. production people. It’s a false dichotomy. The sooner we embrace the idea that television as we know it is dying — and it’s a matter of if, not when — the sooner we embrace whatever’s next. Those who don’t get it will go the way of the dinosaur. It’s evolution. And when we begin to embrace whatever’s next we can’t help but move closer to a maker mindset; the future belongs to the tinkerers. The makers. Big idea people who also know how to get their hands dirty.

Which might sound new-ish, but it’s just a renewal of something artists have always done: we think in the act of making. Writers rarely set out with a perfect idea. That’s why they write on a regular basis — to see what takes shape, and, if it’s something that’s worth expanding on, they keep going until it’s a coherent thing. Other artists sketch to see what comes of it. Coders play. Musicians strum. Creative people have always devised great ideas by the act of making, and in our own creative industries I think we’re better off when that’s the norm more than the exception.

Lee Strafford

Lee Strafford
Founder of Plusnet Dot Forge Accelerator

Entrepreneurial creative coders own the future.

“Back to the future” – Contemporary “little mesters” building products that develop into businesses, with customers spread across the digital economy. Taking data sets and disrupting established businesses processes, fusing hardware and software, and finding new ways to describe what they do and drive interest in communities of interest.

Its already happening, and reaching maturity as a global macro trend having been born by way of the publication of the cluetrain manifesto, those that embrace and support the trend have the most to gain.

Those that try to stand in its way will end up learning just how powerful water is…

BMB | Technology Agency

Matt Waller
Executive Creative Director at BMB


‘I believe the children are our future.
Teach them well and let them lead the way.’


But when they grow up, should they be a Creative or a Coder?

What is for certain is Coders and Creative with poor ideas won’t do that well.

But can ‘Creatives who don’t know how it all works, can they really imagine its full potential?’ 

In short I think, yes. Creatives imagine all sorts of things with little detailed knowledge all the time. But then of course they will then need a Coder to bring it to life.

But what about Coders, can they imagine a techs full potential?

Yes I say; the problem is they may be too busy listening to the Creative prattle on about his ‘grand vision’ and then have to work nights and weekends for months turning that ‘grand vision’ into a working thing.

So, in the short term I think the Creatives will own the future.

But those Creatives will grow lazy and die.

Then the new (good) Coders will take over. But they will be too busy coming up with ideas to actually code themselves and thus become just ‘ideas people’. Who will need to employ Coders in some far away country with no minimum wage to bring their ideas to life.

So Creatives will still own the future.

This will repeat for years, until the robots take over. Robots programmed by Coders. But you can’t blame them, because it was a fool arse Creatives idea.

So to answer the orginal question;

Robot Creatives will own the future. Robots programmed by Coders under the direction of Creatives from the Soho/Shoreditch area.

Techdept | Technology Agency

Robin Wong
Executive Producer at Weir & Wong

A good idea sits at the core of every successful project that I’ve ever worked, there’s no 2 ways about it. But this doesn’t mean that creatives are the be-all and end-all of everything, far from it. It’s always taken a team of talented people to help realise any complex project, and this is true of any industry, let alone ones where coding is required. I’m a firm believer in the following quote:

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration”, Thomas Edison

People have good ideas all the time, regardless of whether their job title is creative or coding based. In my career so far, I’ve found that the most important part, and also the most exciting part tends to be not just finding an idea, but moulding it and seeing it through to it’s ultimate potential, and this part requires specialists, sometimes in code, design, film, 3D, or physical engineering – you name it, this list will keep growing with ever more specialists and coders in an ever larger list of dark arts.

I see the future as an even more blurred boundary between ideas and production people, in fact it’s pretty much my present-day working life.

In Weir+Wong, we tend to work with technically minded creatives and creatively minded technologists, but the key part we get all team members to focus on is the Audience and how the idea applies to them. This user-centred design approach is the glue in our collective thinking that brings all the different viewpoints of our teams together, and allows us to come up with lots of different creative and technical approaches to realising that initial idea.

I’ve also found that it’s often a good thing when people who have the idea don’t have a full understanding of how it should work on a deeply technical level, it allows them to think agnostically about the technology and focus on the user experience they think will work best.

To round things off, I have a modern day proof of Thomas Edison’s quote that shows that it still stands true to this day, and it’s about Facebook. If you believe what “The Social Network” would have you believe, then the Winklevoss brothers who allegedly came up with the idea for Facebook, settled with Mark Zuckerburg for $65m in 2008. Zuckerburg, who took that idea, built a team of coders and business people around it and saw it through, was recently announced in Forbes as the sixth richest person in the world with $28.5bn.

By my maths, that means that Edison was slightly out and that Genius is in fact only 0.23% inspiration and 99.77% perspiration.


So a range of different perspectives from our contributors – but what do you think? Are you a creative, or a coder? Or is the distinction itself outdated?

We’d love to hear your views – go ahead, get creative!


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