the resurgence of the expert

With the announcement by Swiffer that they are doing yet another YouTube video contest (but wait, they say, this one will be different because people are already uploading videos about their Swiffer and we are giving them a promo offer to upload…still videos about a broom by amateurs and still boring and poorly produced) and joining the ranks of marketers that have abandoned professional campaigns for consumer-generated work, I finally cracked.

And I am right on trend, at least according to Tangerine Toad:

EXPERTS ARE THE NEW BLACK: There are only so many amateur videos you can watch. Or badly written blogs you can read. Experts of all sorts stage a resurgence, as people crave well-written articles by people who know their subjects, and well-crafted videos by people who have some experience. Some mainstream publications get in on the act, finding talented amateurs (aka “fresh voices”) and mixing them in with their existing staffers. Grateful consumers, tired of wading through 3,000 Google hits for “review of new Ryan Gosling movie” respond with fervor.

The democratization of media does have its merits, but there is an issue when the barriers of entry to creating and disseminating content are lowered…those same barriers also acted to control quality. The democratization of media has resulted in the democratization of talent because anyone (like yours truly) can create whatever he likes and output it for mass consumption (whereas before you could still create, but the end product usually ended up on Mom’s fridge or self-published and thus never found a wide audience).

The democratization of talent has resulted in cultural white noise – everyone is a creator, but nobody has an audience. Without technology or the elites holding up the barriers to entry for creating content, content is created by anyone, and the very best, the masters, the experts don’t stick out like they once did.

In many ways it is good that the traditional elites don’t have a monopoly on media. There is a significant amount of excellent, engaging and informative writing on blogs that otherwise would have never been created. Take ad blogs, for instance. Yet, even with those, notice how the really good ones are written by people who know the business inside and out from having worked their way up in it (experts), a lot of the best ad blogs are written by copywriters (master writers), and the others are from people who have a perspective that sticks out from the rest (the very best/”fresh voices”). These people could “win” on their merits and ability and likely only need the democratization of media to give them the tools to write while also doing their day job.

According to Toad, we are going to see a backlash against the white noise of bad content.

It’s about time. There is a reason that people rise to the top of their profession, be it advertising, journalism, screenwriting, acting, etc and so on. They rise to the top because they are very good (and have a dollop of luck on their side).

I can’t wait for the resurgence of the expert.

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