Big photographic story of the day. Back in 1995, I remember reading an article in Wired Magazine about the emerging information economy and its utopian vision, at the time, that all goods and services would eventual be free. Back to the future methinks. Any photographers out there in professional land have an opinion about this development? Getty Images makes 35 million images free in fight against copyright infringement » British Journal of Photography.
I’m still struggling with dichotomies that the internet presents; especially in relation to artistic expression. Yes, I’m delighted that the ‘gatekeepers’ of old have been banished to analog history. Yes, I’m thrilled and enthralled by the explosion of creativity and freedom that the technology now affords everyone with access to a keyboard. But more is not necessarily better. Without curation, of any kind, isn’t there the danger that genuine nuggets of sheer brilliance become submerged in a tsunami of drivel and dross? How to achieve gravitas in an insta-everything world, where attention spans are measured in microseconds and ideas and thoughts are relegated to mere trinkets and trivia for insta-consumption: Or as the industry jargon would say – ‘creative content’. An oxymoron if there ever was one. I could be accused of elitism – and you’d probably be right. But it’s worth bearing in mind, that the analog elitism of old invested time and money in nascent artistic talent that, although not guaranteeing a livelihood, certainly provided for the possibility of financial security down the line. Today, even the most talented and successful musicians are paid a pittance by online streaming sites like Spotify. The ‘Long-Tail’ business model, that owners of the distribution channels like Google and YouTube expound, are very profitable for them – less for the creators of that ‘content’. A pittance multiplied by a thousand ‘hits’ is still a pittance. A thousand ‘hits’ multiplied by quadrillions of sites makes the shareholders of those channels very happy indeed. I understand Godin when he says the onus is now on you – the creator- to create. No excuses. No gatekeepers to block your way. Build a ‘market’ of 100 believers in your creativity – forget about mass markets. But creative people have bills as well. Some people are getting very rich indeed when creative people say “Yes” – but I can assure you; it’s not the creators.