The Times They Are A’Changin
Technology has certainly made life a lot easier in many regards and has really reduced the barrier to entry for many to pursue their goals and dreams. Is this a good thing? Is it a bad thing? What kind of thing is it exactly?
We are overwhelmed with stuff. This digital generation seems far more obsessed with video games, movies, and other diversions, than in the past. I stand with one foot in the analog age and another in our new age and can step outside myself and see these differences. I see entitlement for many. When I grew up, we caught shows when we could and they were rare and wonderful. Who didn’t stay up until 2am to see certain horror movies because that was the only time they were on and if you missed one particular one it might be another year or so (if you were lucky) to catch it again.
Don’t get me wrong. When DVRs were first introduced, I was among the first in the city to have one. I got it by calling my cable provider who added me to the first wave (which was mainly cable company employees). I love the ability to use Netflix to watch anything whenever. I enjoy the ability to focus on the creation of our products and especially, never ever take for granted the splendors of a simple typewriter when yours truly grew up with a manual typewriter my own father learned how to type on back in the fifties.
Today, I use Adobe Creative Suite, use InDesign to do layout, and things are worlds easier than they were even a handful of years ago (at least on the mechanical side). On the other hand, the lower the barrier to entry, the easier it is for anyone to create something, so it makes it hard for things of merit to stand out, especially for those just jumping in. As the Blur is going on eight years, we’re established now. I came in when there was a bit of a lull in new companies entering the market, but I’d be hard pressed to see doing it now. There is a lot of competition for a lot of dollars.
Then there’s the whole crowdsourcing movement and all kinds of companies are jumping into that pond, old and new alike. I’m wondering if we’re seeing a glimpse into the future right now. Sound off, will ya?
Until next time, I bid you, dear reader adieu!
As a New Zealander, I’m LOVING the advancements that have been made in the last two decades. Were it not for the internet (and some somewhat illegal activity) we’d might never have seen a number of wonderful TV shows that never got picked up down here. We’re also better able to keep in touch with overseas friends (anyone remember pen pals?), get involved in activites State-side, and any number of other things.
Were it not for the internet, I would probably have never been to GenCon, not got a Free RPG Day adventure published, and not have a clue who Kim Kardashian was – though I think I could live with that last one. I remember the wonder I felt the first time I looked at Games Workshop’s website. It was like a full colour catalogue of awesomeness (even if the site was a litlte primitive). These days the internet is a vital part of our lives (esecially for those of us whose work appears on it exclusively).
As for crowdsourcing, I think it’s a good way for new companies, or those with minimal cash flow, to get their foot in the door with their first few projects. It also helps get people actively interested in the product, which can be a major benefit in the long run, especially once the product is released.
I am fortunate to have some generational memories from my Grandmother and her friends. While most of her friends (and world) has long passed, the stories of her as a child riding bareback to the store in the Texas town I grew up in increase my sense of wonder. She witnessed WWI, WWII, the introduction of cars, Radios, TVs, the Bi-Centennial, etc…
I have taken up web development again after a 15 year gap and am truely amazed. The Adobe Suite (CS5.5) is so rich in capability I am over a year into it and just scratching the surface. I have had to accept that there is just a ton of fun cool things I just won’t have time to get to. I also returned to rpg gaming after a 20 year gap. Simultaneously, my best bud introduced me to Savage Worlds and MapTool one day in 2007 over a phone call and the world hasn’t been the same. A 1600 mile distance virtually dissappears and we are gaming again. Now with a VTT group of 6, half old school buds, and half I’ve never met are glued to our PCs for 3 hours every other week. The GM is in Washington State, I’m in San Diego. 3 are in various parts of Texas, and the last is in New Jersey, and it is awesome! The economy may be in the toilet but thanks to my Grandmother’s memories (passed to me) of the great depression and WWII, you won’t hear me complaining. Those folks really knew hardship in a way few in the US of today could comprehend. I could go on but we live In truely the most amazing world. I tell my friends I’m living the sci fi I grew up reading.
I’m a fan of the advancements. In the past six months I’ve been able to teach myself for the cost of an internet connection how to do layout using Scribus, image editing with Gimp, have art sent to me by a friend over the internet, work on editing with Open Office, and create something people might be interested in. Even if folks don’t like what I’ve created I’ve learned a great deal about the process of producing a product and will always have that experience. Heck. One of the images I’ve used is a picture I took with the camera on my phone and then loaded onto my laptop and edited with GIMP until I got the result I wanted. Its amazing how much you can do with so little these days.
I don’t find myself nostalgic for past tech at all. I’ve been on this planet for nearly 50 years and I don’t miss messing with rabbit ears to get the TV to show something clearly. People can collaborate across huge distances often in real time and in almost as meaningful a way as face to face. Soon even that distinction may blur. It’s a democratizing force, one that breeds understanding and erases a types of Balkanization that someone who wasn’t an adult prior to the 90s might not truly grasp.
I welcome it and embrace it. Everyone can get in on the game, whatever it is, and participate. We’ve seen in many disciplines, film, writing, and gaming the cream still rises to the top but the curators are you and me not someone who went to school to learn how to criticize. We stil need our poop filters (now more than ever) and we still need to be critical thinkers but the voices that deserve to heard can be heard without arbitrary gate keepers keeping them out of earshot.
We are on the cusp of a time without gatekeepers. In a world in which anyone can publish or broadcast, there’s no need for an established publisher or broadcaster to decide what’s “marketable” or not — the market itself decides.
The real problem today is not creating content, but having people *discover* your content. In this new, gatekeeper-less sea of products, the best products should ideally rise to the top, but that will only happen if enough people learn about it. That’s the true challenge, and the one many creators are finding frustrating. It takes one set of talents to create quality content; it takes another to get the word out. I foresee a new category of media professionals, whose talents lie in this area, who replace the old gatekeepers in terms of handling the “marketing” of the products, but without the old requirement of owning or controlling it. (These professionals already exist, but I expect to see many more of them in the next year or two.)
Sean Patrick Fannon
Naturally, I am firmly in the camp that believes the advent of digital distribution, reduction of the middle-man influence on commerce, and the liberty of creativity are all great things.
I will say, however, that the role of the Gatekeeper may be altered dramatically, but as the Sea gets filled with Crap, it will be the established Entity that provides the safe lagoons, harbors, and currents for folks to find the Good Stuff.
In other words, a publisher like Reality Blurs may not be necessary for someone to get published; it will, however, be increasingly important as a measure of quality.
Sean Patrick Fannon: you’d probably be in a situation to know. Are little known but talented authors “discovered” on places like DTRPG or do they usually get buzz from bloggers, cons, etc? I’m curious because trolling DTRPG is how I often get turned on to new stuff. I don’t have time to follow all the blogs and podcasts.