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Craft vs. Content: Resisting the Mediocrity of a Dual Existence Age

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Kyle Chayka, a writer from the United States, recently published a piece on The Guardian called “The Tyranny of the Algorithm: Why Every Coffee Shop Looks the Same.” The article is, as the title suggests, about the way online algorithms have homogenized culture. 

The piece is notable for an exchange Chayka has with Trevor Walsh who works in marketing for a coffee shop chain:

‘There’s this constant urgency to be producing content. We are constantly feeling like we have to be in people’s phones, be in people’s desktops,’ Walsh said. They had fill the algorithmic page.

Simply existing as a coffee shop isn’t enough; the business It is necessary to maintain a parallel online existenceThis is a completely different skill set. ‘It almost feels like, you must have a social media acumen, you must be savvy in this area that is adjacent to your business, but not directly embedded in your business, in order to be successful and visible,’ Walsh continued.

Entrepreneurs and creatives are facing a unique dilemma in today’s world. 

Authors, for example, lament the fact that publishers will often only offer book deals to writers who already have established “platforms” (read: followers on FB, IG, Twitter, TikTok, etc.). To grow their platform, writers must create new content for social networks. . . Making it difficult to find time to work on your book.

Some authors who are already popular try to avoid this dilemma by hiring a team of social media managers. This still requires that these writers spend less time being creative and instead focus on being supervisors. And new and would-be authors can’t justify hiring a hype girl to promote their persona online. 

Of course, both businesses and artists have always had to consider the public’s opinion and advertise their wares. But there have been times when artists only had to please the whims of a single patron, and the marketing aspect of a modern creator’s job is, for several reasons, qualitatively different now and has arguably never consumed so much of their bandwidth. 

Modern writers, artists and entrepreneurs are not just tasked with promoting their final product but also sharing the inside look at their art. in progressEven tips are given on how viewers at home can improve themselves. 

A chef in 1985 might promote his restaurant by creating a direct mail advertisement — a one-and-done decision. His marketing continues to be done daily as he shares videos, photos, and ideas. Social media postings are not only an interruption to his job, but also cause him to lose focus as he checks in to see how well his posts have performed. Modern marketing becomes a feedback loop of concentration-dividing, deep-work-disrupting, creativity-killing distraction. 

Our hypothetical chef must not only promote his food but also himself as a person. The personalities of artists and entrepreneurs have always attracted the public’s attention. However, in the past, they were only a hint, and the paintings, books, or inventions spoke for themselves. Now, creators have to share more than just their work. They also need to share snapshots from their private lives.

This limits and selects who will be successful in the modern world. There is only one group of people who will do the thing. and to talk publicly about doing the thing. As the overlap area on the Venn diagram of these factors is likely much bigger for extroverts than introverts, it’s the former who are much more likely to come to the public’s attention. 

The catch-22 facing modern creators — the feeling that you can’t make it unless you promote your work online, but you can’t do good work if your bandwidth is always being siphoned off by the act of promotion — has serious implications for both individual creativesYou can also find out more about the following: entrepreneurs, and for the health and vitality of our culture at large.

For the individual, there must come the recognition that in living a dual existence — one online and one off — it’s impossible to maintain the same quality of work you’d do if you only had to focus on the latter. You must answer a difficult question: Would you rather have greater reach or do better work?

It’s not an all-or-nothing dichotomy; you can dial up the focus on real life versus reel life, or vice versa. Wherever you move the slider, it will change the other part of the equation.

It’s possible to decide that even in the modern age, good, quality work will find an audience, perhaps not as big as it could be, but sizable in its own right, largely on its own — that word of mouth, which has been the main form of social media for thousands of years, will continue to allow the cream to rise to the top. There are still enough underground hits that are popular outside of the algorithm to support that belief.

It takes a leap of faith to believe in the power of quality. But it’s a leap that the brilliance of future art and innovation, and the very pitch of civilization itself, depends on.


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