We are on the edge of something, a groundswell of creativity or mediocrity.
It has never been so easy to reproduce the contents of the imagination. What used to be called Special Effects is now cheap and easy. There are Crowdfunding options for even the most bizarre ideas. Self-publishing is becoming plug-and-play and has acquired the kind of respectability it did not have just five years ago. Ebooks are making a splash. Collaborations are easier and can be carried out over wide geographical distances. Dissemination of ideas to the wider world is near-instantaneous.
This should be a golden age or a Silicon Valley frontier. We should have fantastic books, thought-provoking movies, niche stuff that would never have been funded or promoted, madcap projects that stimulate others to even higher achievements.
But is the ease with which we download our ruminations and flights of fancy to reality hampering excellence? Perhaps we don’t polish the ideas as long as we should. Back in the days of the typewriter you had to think of paper (at least you did where I grew up) and ribbon ink and Tip-Ex. You had to think of the noise of the keys when you hit them. This meant working out your ideas in your head, scribbling in pencil, then typing.
Both the excellent and the execrable share global platforms and the signal-to-noise ratio is worrying. We can produce whatever we conceive and we are conceiving a lot, too much perhaps. Or maybe too much dross. We need more wheat and less chaff. I’m mindful that you can’t extract wheat without making chaff, but you don’t eat the husk, you eat the grain.
What will the artifacts of this era be? What will we leave behind?