We Live In A First Draft Culture

Posted on 05/26/2015 in misc

Example of bad Sebastian Bach photo

Example of a not great photo. Photo source (CC By 2.0 license)

Yesterday I would have bet it all if somebody had bet me that today I would be writing a blog post based on something Sebastian Bach said. Yet here we are. I'm glad nobody offered me that bet.

I was listening to the first episode of Dee Snider's new podcast, which was damn interesting as they talked about bands still touring with only a shell of the classic lineup, if that. Something I just happened to write about about last week.

Anyway, they got a little off subject and Sebastian was ranting about people posting 100 pictures after a show. Not that he minds them doing it, just that he wished they'd be a little more discriminating and edit out the crap. As part of that rant he uttered the phrase "first draft culture." I thought that was interesting and worthy of a little more thought.

He's completely right. Virtually unlimited storage, both on phones and online, have led to most people not bothering to edit anything. Take 100 pictures, vomit them all over social media, and repeat at your next event. The cost of film and developing did lead to most of us being somewhat picky about what pictures we took.

However, it's more than being lazy and not editing. It's also, maybe mostly, the rush to be first. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even the major news networks all value being first over just about anything else now. By the time you cull through 500 photos from the concert to find the 20 that are actually good, 50 other people from the show will have posted their crappy selfies and under-exposed shots of the stage. By the time you consider that thought you typed into Twitter somebody else may make the same point, and they'll get the favorites and retweets. We post the first draft not because we don't care, but because that's what gets rewarded, and we want the reward.

Is this a problem, or is this another case of cranky old guys screaming about kids on their lawn? It's probably a little bit of both. Although it does strike me that there could be a business opportunity for somebody to cull through the tweets, photos, blog posts, and public Facebook updates after a major event, and curate the good stuff. I'd pay attention to a website that did that.

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