August 20, 2019

How Algorithms Replaced Gatekeepers and Lowered the Bar on Quality

The fall of last generation’s analog gatekeepers meant that everyone with an internet connection and the desire to create (and share) their work could potentially make a name for themselves. But the social media giants and the spate of algorithmically-driven content that comes with them may have caused more damage to creative expression than any stuffy executive could.

Pre-social media gatekeepers

Among others, these types of powerful positions would decide what works made it to the public consciousness, which remained in a slush pile, and which were rejected altogether. These titles included:

  • Magazine editors
  • TV producers
  • Publishing execs
  • Gallery curators

How things changed

  1. The Internet and especially Facebook democratized fame by allowing anyone’s work to reach a news feed
  2. Almost overnight, major outlets had to share more work to both keep up with the times and to shake the “bad” aspects of their gatekeeper image
  3. Aside from creatives getting their due, there was also a deluge of content of all types
  4. The social media giants introduced algorithms to sift through this massive amount of content, inevitably pushing the most popular, likeable and shareable content to the top

How that made things worse

For one, the rise of the IG artist and the boosted metrics their content brings has shifted entire marketing strategies to favor a very specific set of aesthetics and content. This means a lot of creatives are focusing on their social strategy over their craft to stay afloat.

This also means that in this new age of democratized media where everyone and anyone has a creative voice that can be amplified via shares and likes, there’s less room for critique. No one argues that content with tens of thousands of likes isn’t successful, but is it good?

The new “gatekeeper” is us

Unfortunately, short of creating our own platforms or opting for indie social media, the onus is back on us as individuals to gatekeep for ourselves. We’ve previously outlined this in the Creator’s Paradigm, but here’s a quick overview of some strategies:

  • Taking our own deep dives into that sea of content to find what’s truly meaningful to us
  • Re-evaluating our sources of content and realizing which ones are merely the “easiest” to digest
  • Concentrating all our preferred sources in one spot using apps like Feedly
  • Taking more time to digest quality content (and archiving the best stuff) rather than simply scrolling through forgettable content that’s recommended to us

Or if you’re feeling like filtering all of the internet, apparently there’s a program for that too.

 

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