I have chosen two artistic occupations that have recently experienced similar technological advancements, leading to consumer/public indifference: Writing (as an Indie Author) and Photography. These different endeavors have both been clobbered by modern advancements. I embrace new technology, but recognize how it makes my artistic activities difficult.
Let's start with Writing. I am considered an Indie Author because I publish eBooks, and also have my own imprint and produce my own dead-tree books. Many articles, forum discussions and blog posts have expressed opinions on the Indie-produced products and authors. The technology that enabled this influx of tens of thousands of new authors (and even more titles) is not a fad (and in most cases, it's free!). Every month a new innovation is put on the market. In addition, the proliferation of social networking, especially blogs, encourage people that their words can be read by everyone (forever!). I became an Indie Author after decades of working in the traditional publishing marketplace (titles with HBJ, Westminster as well as regional publishers). That's where I started, and I admit, in 2002 I jumped on the electronic revolution as a faster way to get my books to an audience. But today it's easy for titles be lost in the increasing number of books by people publishing anything and everything with varying degrees of writing expertise.
The same is true with Photography. Early in this century, when digital cameras became a public consumer item, they fostered a plethora of shutterbugs. I've been shooting for more than four decades, and had my own darkroom for a while (an expensive, stinky condition). I'm pleased that today, taking pictures is no longer a costly activity of film purchase and development. Sharing with family and friends--and the world--is an easy upload. I switched to digital in 2003 when the top-end consumer digital had a whopping 3.2MP (wow!). I bought new cameras as the upgrades became available. Today, an actual stand-alone camera isn't even necessary. Almost all Internet-geared devices, from laptops to smart phone and tablets, have a camera built in, and social network sites encourage photo uploads. As with writing, professionals who developed their Art of Photography prior to the digital age--who were once considered having an elite talent--are now some of the billions who daily take pictures.
From a social development standpoint, I find all this fascinating. From an artist's point of view, it's troublesome. I'll be contemplating some of the ramifications in future posts.