Archive for August, 2012

August 22, 2012

Eats, shoots and leaves?!

Introducing the interrobang; everything you want (and need) from a punctuation mark in one handy keystroke. Actually introduced in 1968, it was a mark ahead of its time. It was created to express the “incredibility of modern life,”  but who in the late sixties could have imagined times more incredible than these?!

Read about it here.

August 17, 2012

We will remember two things about this day

The Pussy Riot girls were sentenced to two years in prison for their “hooliganism,” and Mark and Brian performed their final morning radio broadcast. If you think repression exists at a safe distance, you better think again. And if you believe that you will never again laugh while driving to work in the morning, well, you’re not alone.

(Hopefully that’s all, but the day is still young in these Western United States.)


August 15, 2012

August 10, 2012

The Cult of the Amateur


For the past couple years my lament (other than not being able to afford to live in the region I’m supposed to support and promote through my job) has been the rapid decline of standards in just about everything. The growing acceptance of mediocrity vis a vis the advance of technology is threatening the livelihoods of professionals, especially in creative fields. Who knew that having so many neat tools at our disposal would make things worse? Certainly not the legion of hobbyists masquerading as graphic designers, photographers, filmmakers, writers, editors and publishers who are liberating quality-driven, experienced people of their jobs. 

The other night I discovered that I’m not alone. Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur: How blogs, MySpace, YouTube, and the rest of today’s user-generated media are destroying our economy, our culture, and our values and Digital Vertigo: How Today’s Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us has been hip to this phenomenon for some time. I wish I’d been hip to him sooner.

I was introduced to Keen in the film PressPausePlay which explores the repercussions of democratized culture. Along with a host of other respected thinkers, including Seth Godin, Keen discusses how the digital age has ushered in an era of lameness. And as we continue to accept substandard work as the baseline, eventually we will forget how to recognize quality. It’s already happening.

Once upon a time, people learned to play music or draw because it was enriching, challenging, entertaining. They did these things to make their lives better. They pursued them as leisure activities. This created a well-rounded, cultured population. Every so often, a few of these hobbyists would emerge as exceptional talents–they rarely made any money.

In the semi-final analysis, I believe that every person is born with a creative impulse. The fact that technology is making it easier for us to give form to our ideas doesn’t make us all artists. And that’s OK. Just because we want to create, does not mean we must make our living this way.  By all means, take photos and put them on display, make mixed media pieces, write poetry, go to open-mics . . . and then become a nurse, a scientist, a cook. The world needs you; your amateur art? Not so much.

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