“Cultural value” and “cultural innovation”, related to products (goods and services) is a very new theme in academic and professional research. Only a few researchers are doing the first steps into the analysis of cultural value in products and of how cultural innovation in society can be related to products, and vice versa. There is still a long way to be made, as people need to understand these new two concepts much deeper.
To illustrate what cultural value and cultural innovation are, I will use in this text the case of the “Printing Press”. We all know that Gutenberg, a German goldsmith who lived in the 15th century, invented the printing press. Despite all prior attempts in China and Europe (1) to make printing easier and less expensive, the adoption of individual printing characters and the use of a press created a revolution in the reproduction of books and other texts.
The technological innovation, at the time, of creating individual characters, to replaced the wooden carved blocks, and the utilization of the press technology from the wine making industry, may now seem simple and easy to us. However, the new utility value provided by the new printing technology allowed for the production of books at a much lower price to consumers. As a result of the printing press technology, the increment in demand of books increased dramatically, which lead to the development of a new industry, creating new economic value. But the greatest revolution induced by the invention of printing press was at the cultural value level. The spread of information and knowledge that the new printing technology brought to humanity changed societies. The renaissance is, deeply, the result of the printing press technology.
Technology revolutions can lead to cultural revolutions. I call it cultural innovation, what in practical terms means that a new product may induce or serve as a tool to behavior changes in society. In the particular case of cultural innovation caused by or using new technology, which I named “newel cultural innovation”, we may find many examples in history, mainly since the beginning of what is known as the industrial revolution.
Now a days the Internet is, possibly, the most impacting factor on cultural innovation, going much further beyond the printing press revolution.