Handbook on the Digital Creative Economy
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Handbook on the Digital Creative Economy

Edited by Ruth Towse and Christian Handke

Digital technologies have transformed the way many creative works are generated, disseminated and used. They have made cultural products more accessible, challenged established business models and the copyright system, and blurred the boundary between producers and consumers. This unique resource presents an up-to-date overview of academic research on the impact of digitization in the creative sector of the economy.
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Chapter 1: General purpose technologies

Cliff Bekar and Erin Haswell


In this chapter we employ the framework of general purpose technologies (GPTs) to analyze the impact of digitization on the production, transmission, and consumption of goods and services in the creative sector of the economy. Digital technologies are in the very early stages of their development. Their long run impact on the creative sector will ultimately be complex, with a diverse range of unpredictable outcomes. We therefore do not engage in any form of ësectoral forecastingí. Nevertheless, we argue some broad principles concerning the impacts of digitization suggested by the nature of the creative sector, the historical impact of innovation on the sector, and the impact of past information communication technologies (ICTs) on other sectors. Digitization is one dimension of modern computer ICTs. Because the literature on modern ICTs is vast, and growing quickly, a thorough review of that literature is beyond the scope of this chapter. We instead start with a working definition of the creative sector. Next, we define GPTs, distinguishing our definition from others in the literature and deriving a simple framework to analyze the impact of ICTs on the creative sector. Finally we turn to both historical and contemporary applications of the model, developing some illustrative case studies.

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