John McCann

Just consume, don’t produce!

In Uncategorized on June 25, 2006 at 4:34 pm

A pair of recent Wall Street Journal articles illustrate the divide between a traditional view of what people should be doing with their time and what the younger crowd is actually doing.

In an article ("NBC Battles, And Joins With, Video Web Sites," June 6, 2006) about the changing nature of the relationship between NBC and YouTube, Brooks Barnes and Rebecca Buckman tell us that people use YouTube to "watch more than 50 million videos a day – mostly amateur clips – on its site."

Then columnist Lee Gomes ("Why Getting the User to Create Web Content Isn't Always Progress," June 7, 2006) tells us that this is bad, very bad. He starts his column with stories about companies producing tools for people to use to create their own videos. By the tone of these stories, we can see that Gomes is not a fan of such efforts; at one point he calls it "busy work." After watching some of the most viewed clips on YouTube, he concludes, "You can spend 10 minutes and watch all of it. Spend much more, and you start feeling guilty about the time you're wasting." He contrasts this with watching videos on the list "Favourite 20th century BBC TV programmes" and concludes "You can watch them decades after decades and never feel guilty about it."

His message: You would be better off consuming the work of the great masters than in producing work that is "so dismally inferior." Or more succinctly, you, the ordinary person, would be better off consuming than producing.

If this applies to video, it must apply to other endeavors. I imagine he would apply his logic to conclude that you would be better off:

  • eating food prepared by a great chef than cooking your own.
  • buying groceries from a famous store than growing your own.
  • reading a book by a great author than writing your own.
  • looking at a great work of art than painting your own.

Whether he realizes it or not, Gomes has written an advocacy piece for the great "consumer society." If we are not great at what we do, we should leave it to the masters. Don't produce things that are inferior to that produced by others, just consume.



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