Burriss: Ego versus artistic skill

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How many of you remember when, just a few short years ago, professional writers and photographers were distinguished from "wanna-be" writers and photographers by one essential fact: they got paid for their work. There were, of course, amateur writers and photographers, but they almost never got paid, except perhaps a nominal amount.

People who called themselves writers or photographers were folks who made their living by their craft. And that almost always meant getting paid.

But technology has, as in so many other areas, blurred those distinctions, and, certainly unintentionally, made it perhaps more difficult for professionals to succeed in their craft.

The physical process of writing or photography used to be somewhat difficult. Typewriters and film cameras imposed constraints and restraints on what the user could do. The physical task of these crafts often separated the professional from the amateur because the professional was able to transcend these constraints and produce art other people would want to see and read.

But word processing, cell phone cameras and instant access to almost unlimited information have put these tools into the hands of almost anyone, even those without the skill to use them properly.

This in turn has led to a plethora of web sites that, to put it bluntly, cater to ego rather than quality. At some level that's ok, because anyone who wants to can post their creative projects for the entire world to see.

To be sure, these postings may be a springboard to success and riches...but quite frankly, not likely. For all of the exposure the web can give, it's hard to buy groceries and pay the mortgage with simply 100-thousand views.

There is a huge chasm between technical ability and artistic skill. And that chasm cannot be bridged by simply pushing buttons and moving a mouse.

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