Here’s a delightful rant from Harlan Ellison:
The undercutting of the professional by the amateur is a fascinating area and one that I, as a blogger, am fully involved in.
I think in Harlan’s case is a very different situation: he isn’t just a professional; he is a fucking good and well paid professional. He really doesn’t need someone to throw him a little PR bone in return for working for free, so he is within his rights to turn them down and rant at the indignity of it all.
But we now have a bunch of awesome amateurs who will give the professionals a run for their money. For example, I would hold The Sartorialist above any copy of GQ or Esquire (I think the guy behind it has a book out, so he is now a professional, but that’s not how he made his reputation), I consider the Arsenal coverage of Arseblog, 7amkickoff and the Goonerholic to be far better than anything I can get in the papers and there are many advertising bloggers who make the canine semen-level coverage of Campaign look like the milquetoast bullshit it truly is.
Those are cases where the impassioned, intelligent amateur outpaces the fattened, hammock-dwelling professional (I exaggerate to make a point), the flipside of Harlan’s argument, demonstrating that just because you do something for money doesn’t mean you’re the best at it, or even any good. It just means someone pays you for it. And there’s a big difference.
We could now discuss crowdsourced ads and how they stand up against the stuff that real advertising agencies produce, but that’s a complicated area where the PR halo of asking ten-year-old kids to do the job of overpaid Madison Avenue wankers is a big part of the argument. Are they better? Well, the job isn’t just coming up with ads; it’s doing it to order, hitting deadlines and suppressing yawns in client meetings, to name just three things that people don’t always discuss when they describe what we do.
Can a ten-year-old kid do the other stuff? Maybe, but it’d be pretty boring to find out, and what does that say about us?