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The Amateur and Our Culture

Woman On BikeA lot of times I write these blog entries well in advance, just in case I run out of ideas (which is very likely). Sometimes things get pushed back because I want to post something different at the time. So, there may be references in my entries like "last week I..." or "in the current..." which are out of date. This entry is like that. So if you ever read a comment like "Man, that new Bel Biv Divoe album is great" you'll know it probably wasn't written recently (and there must have been something wrong with me for liking the BBD album). It seems like I've been inundated with articles about crowd sourcing lately. I know this isn't a new phenomenon, but for some reason the last few weeks I've become more receptive to these stories. First, I was looking through Maxim (I usually only look at it for the girls) and there is an article titled "You Suck" about the crap that You put out there every day (You of course meaning Time Magazine's Person Of The Year: You) Then, I open up the latest Wired and found an article about newspapers turning to "Citizen Journalists" to bring them the news rather than experienced journalists. Also, a friend of mine had the book "Wikinomics" on his coffee table, which is about the economics of the crowd-sourced online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Finally to complete the cycle I'm standing in line at a book store waiting to buy yet another magazine and I see the book "The Cult of The Amateur: How Today's Internet Is Killing Our Culture" by Andrew Keen. At that point I decide its a sign so I buy the book.

I think the title of the book says it all. We are flooded daily with media brought to us by amateurs, where once it would have only been professionals. Be it news, reviews, music, video, photography, etc, etc. The biggest gripes the author has are with sites like Wikipedia and the ubiquitous blog where many people get their information and news. Thousands of people writing their opinions and providing information, all possibly with dubious intentions or a complete lack of knowledge of what the truth is. Of course, I do fully grasp the irony of writing a blog entry about a book discussing the pointlessness of such blog entries.

This phenomenon is a problem in the photography world as well. A lot of clients are under both deadline and financial constraints. And, at first glance finding a photographer or image on a site like Flickr or one of the many micro-stock agencies may seem like a cheap and easy solution (of course, it may not be cheaper in the end). But if you need something that is truly unique and will differentiate you from the pack in order to stand out and grab a viewer's attention I doubt something produced by an amateur will suffice. Digital technologies such as high end digital cameras and Photoshop allow anyone to take a great shot. But to do it consistently and under the time constraints that most photographers are put under is a different thing all together. Putting together a shoot with a large cast, crew and location is also something your typical amateur with a digital camera isn't likely able to handle. The end result will likely be what they weren't hoping for.

But hey, I'm just one of a million other bloggers out there thinking my opinion matters. Which, as anyone who knows me can attest to, it doesn't.

What I listened to last week: Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed The Killers, Sam's Town

What I watched last week: Californication

What I read last week: Sunday New York Times A giant W with far to many ads