Press "Enter" to skip to content

Era of the Amateur

You know when you have a hunch, right? It’s like you get an itch that you just have to scratch!

A few years ago prodded on by memories of tidbits I had read – especially from Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman, as well as, Gladwell’s the 10,000-Hour Rule in which he considers the key to success in any field is simply a matter of practicing a specific task that can be accomplished with 20 hours of work a week for 10 years equal mastery … I set out to do some research.

Like all good intentions … the road to hell is paved with them. An alternative form of that old chestnut is “Hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good works”. This brings up “Slacktivism” more on that later!

My hunch a few years ago was that we were entering the “Era of the Amateur.”

What started my search was the overwhelming proliferation of amateurs in all sorts of important endeavours – musicians, writers, designers, advertising people and so on and so forth – they seemed to be everywhere!

In the last three years, I have put together an impressive list of the absolute dregs! It is disheartening to say the least. And sadly with no light at the end of the tunnel I threw in the towel. Writing this book with examples of crap was not what I wanted to do. I wanted a point! I wanted to suggest a cure! Hell, anything but laying out the mere proof of my theory.

I remember talking to someone in the typography industry and we were discussing the proliferation of horrible use of type and design as a result of desktop publishing. He said, “Yes there is a lot of horrible examples but all this has done is raise the bar for great typography.”

It was utter bullshit!

I remember being puzzled about that statement when he said it. I now know why. It was utter bullshit! He was in the typography industry and I guess this was a way of self-aggrandizing or simply denying that the end was nye! Typography has not gotten better and the sheer amount of amateur design whether it be online, in books, in packaging or advertising, on signs or wherever … that bar has not only dropped – there is no bar anymore. Design is dead. Full stop.

Music was something that was dear to my heart. I sat and watched as anyone and anybody with little or more often no talent got up on stages all over the country and basically ruined the live music business. These amateurs played for free – for exposure! (People die from exposure. The music biz sure did!) They did open mic’s upon non-stop open mic’s – and clubs loved these because there was no entertainment cost – some of these amateurs even paid some of the clubs to perform (For use of the club’s PA!) and took away a viable income and revenue stream from pro musicians. Ruined an industry. The result is that it is extremely rare to see a competent – and by competent I mean professional – live band perform anywhere. Yep, there are still wonderful musicians and groups. I saw that Herbie Hancock would be playing near me … I checked for tickets … $450 and up.

“We don’t have to be good at anything to succeed!” Means all you have to do is be persistent and keep at it and everyone else will go away


A fallout of Og Mandino’s thinking (The Greatest Salesman and the Ten Scrolls “We don’t have to be good at anything to succeed!” Means all you have to do is be persistent and keep at it and everyone else will go away “… (I am paraphrasing Mr. Mandino who I heard say something like this at a talk) This is why we now have a whack of very persistent folks who simply are not that good. I am a fan of Og’s. However, when it comes to art and beauty and creativity and design and brilliance this advice doesn’t work! On the other hand, this advice is really good if you are a salesperson or someone who is stuck in a rut in life or in a career but is definitely not great when it comes to being exceptional You can be proficient at anything if you do it for 10,000 hours. Like the old joke about the dogs riding bicycles at the circus. “How do they do that?” The questions is not “HOW” but “WHY?” Proficiency will make you a fine technician but not everyone is an artist.

I looked at all sorts of fields of endeavour and we are deep, deep, deep in the middle of this Era. It is not pretty. The democratization of things (Music, live or recording, art, design and any and all things Social Web-based) makes them so unimportant. So mediocre. So unnecessary.

Mediocre is NOT what we need.

If you really want to see the mediocrity we are in look at any Social Media channel. Look at the comments. Recently there was an opportunity to maybe pull together a few folks and see if we can put a dent in the rampant bicycle thefts in Victoria. Boy lots of comments and “likes” on the Stolen Bike group on FAcebook. Did anyone actually come forward? Did anyone even so much as go to a Forum I built to collect ideas? No. 

It used to be far far better when folks did not put their hands up and shout “Hey, look at me! I am stupid!”

Ignorance was bliss.

in in

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *