From Politics to the Arts
We need to transform the ways in which, as a society, we share ideas and creative works. The Internet holds great promise in this area, but has barely begun to live up to its potential. In the meantime, our conventional methods continue to fail us ever more seriously.
The vast majority of writing today originates more from a compulsion to say something than out of any rationally-based expectation of benefit. Not only are the odds of a given piece being published via the traditional media infinitesimally small, it’s highly unlikely that the piece will get anything more than the most cursory glance by a junior-level staffer or intern plowing through a publisher’s “slush pile.”
A similar state of affairs prevails in other realms of creative endeavor. For example, vast numbers of capable and talented musicians are desperate for a chance to have anybody in the music industry just listen to their demos.
A wall of indifference confronts creative people today. It is qualitatively different from traditional forms of selection or rejection based on quality—a necessary and useful process from which we all ultimately benefit. Today’s barrier keeps out the desirable and the undesirable alike.
This wall is also a defining characteristic of our era. In the arts as everywhere else, ours is the age of the dwarfed individual straining to be heard above the clamor—and the impregnable automated voice response unit at the other end of the phone.
The same kind of wall that separates creative people from their natural audiences also degrades our political system. Today, almost the only people who have a chance of putting their views before the public are those who:
- are descended from political dynasties,
- are already famous from some other area of endeavor, or
- are beholden to special interests, from whom they've had to cadge enormous sums of money in order to wage effective media campaigns.
The sad part is, things don’t have to be this way. We already have the means to handle the problem in a better way. We just need to use them more effectively.