State of the Art: Analysing where art meets technology using social network data

This report analyses activities at the interface of art and technology, using data from the social networking platform Meetup.

This report analyses activities at the interface of art and technology, using data from the social networking platform Meetup.

The creative industries are a UK strength. Employment in them is growing rapidly and their employment share of the national workforce is among the highest in Europe. Creative jobs are less likely to be automated and hence should provide more sustainable employment in future. The sector is also likely to become more technologically sophisticated in future. It is therefore important to understand activities at the intersection of art and tech to inform thinking in this area.

This report uses data from the internet platform Meetup to assess activities at the interface of art and tech in the UK. The report identifies a number of technologies as involving the intersection of art and tech going forward. It analyses the geographic distribution of these groups around the country, the kinds of activities involved and how they are connected by people being members of groups in different domains. 

Key findings

  • Activities involving both art and tech are unevenly distributed around the country. A particularly high proportion of the art-tech activity identified is in London, more than can be accounted for by higher levels of London Meetup activity in general. It is considered that this relates to activities at the interface of art and tech requiring a range of skills that it is easier to combine in larger cities. The finding is also consistent with previous Nesta research that London accounts for a higher share of both high-tech and creative employment than its share of the workforce as a whole.
  • A number of the technologies highlighted as part of the research (3D printing, virtual reality and the internet of things) allow a greater level of personalised experience, suggesting that personalisation through co-creation and response to user feedback is likely to become more important in the arts as the use of these technologies grow.
  • Activities at the intersection of art and tech are connected by individuals that span the border of several domains (e.g. there are people that are members of both digital photography and animation meetups). The finding perhaps reflects a general trend of integrated artistic and technical skills which is finding expression in a host of domains.
  • Makerspaces are one of the places where activities that combine art and technology are happening. With the growth of the maker movement itself, it seems plausible that makerspaces will play an increasingly important part of activities combining art and technology in future.

Policy recommendations

There should be greater use of new forms of web-based data in understanding emerging sectors of the economy.

The report indicates a number of technologies and trends that may be increasingly important to the creative industries in future and whose impact it is worth considering in policy formulation.


John Davies, Nesta


John Davies

John Davies

John Davies

Principal Data Scientist, Data Analytics Practice

John was a data scientist focusing on the digital and creative economy. He was interested in the interface of economics, digital technology and data.

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