At this point
I’m fairly sure that anyone that occasionally skims this blog will have seen the above typographic video quoting Ira Glass in his talk about creativity. If you haven’t, the magic of the interwebbles means that you are able to click the little play button up there and do so now.
The gist of the quote is that when creatives start out making art, there is a gap between their (great) taste and their (not-so-great) skill in creating art based on that taste. And that leads a lot of them to quit. The reassurance given by Glass is that although we may realise that what we are making isn’t up the standards set by our taste, if we keep working through it, eventually our work will be as good as we want it to be. The question that occurred to me last night–during a dinner of garlic and butter (and the occasional mussel)–was where the digital taste portfolios of the current-day Internet fit into this relationship.
‘Digital taste portfolios’ may not be the most eloquent term for it, but it’s early and I haven’t quite woken up properly yet, so forgive me that one. By that term, I’m referring to the tumblrs, the pinterests, the Facebook groups, and the blogs that collect content from around the world and amalgamate them into a rolling boulder of taste. And the main thing I’m pondering is to what extent these portfolios short-circuit the relationship between taste, work, and creativity on an individual basis.
A while ago I tried to turn this blog into one of those content accumulators; mainly because I admired the ones that I read, such as TYWKIWDBI and the J-Walk blog (now sadly closed). And while it was fun, scouring the Internet archives for bits and pieces of knowledge, it didn’t really take off for me because a) at the time it was actually really hard to find original content that hadn’t been covered a billion times already, and b) it was very time-consuming to find the piece, comment on it, upload/format the images/video, etc. the way I wanted.
These days it’s a lot easier to share your taste. Quite often it’s literally a click or two and presto! The photo you saw, the fashion design you adored, the article about life in Iraq as a popsicle stand salesman you cried while reading are added to a very public display of your taste. And if you’re getting comments, likes, notes, retweets, pageviews, <insert generic, statistically interpretable, positive reinforcement mechanism here>, isn’t that a disincentive to producing original art in ways that display your taste? Why spend hours honing your craft to make it meet the level of your taste when you can make a couple of one millimetre depressions with your index finger and achieve an approximation? Are we losing original creators to a short cut?
I should note I don’t think this is really a question that can be answered confidently. If I’m honest I’m not even really that sure if it’s a valid question. If I were to take a stab at it I’d suspect that creatives that share in this way would almost certainly still be creating original content in addition to their (cringe) digital taste portfolio. I’m sure that any exposure to new and interesting ideas, designs, art is feeding the muse for future projects. And obviously in order to be able to share awesome creative things with each other, there has to be at least someone out there making the awesome creative things to be shared. I’m just a little circumspect of where the logical conclusion to all this sharing and resharing and taste…well, taste boasting is. Do people out exist there that have turned away from the creation of original art to favour the sharing of art they would have loved to have made?
Anyway, enough of this musing, I have a full batch of RSS feeds to read through to see what amazing things people have found lately. HUR HUR.