Craft versus mass

By Philip Dodson

Our world is now completely dominated by mass.

Small, crafted ‘art’ has been industrialised in the mass market production of goods and services.

The people involved in that process are no more than cogs in the machine and are denied the human pleasure of crafting something special, unique, different, and a work of love.

We are the poorer for mass in every way.

If you get an opportunity in life to craft something then take it.

It’s a magical world when we create rather than simply fulfil a process.

Are most of us working on things that no one really needs?


I am sat here reading one of my favourite blogs, by James Altucher, after my mate Seth, who’s blog I read daily without fail, he’s another one who talks my language and makes a lot of sense.

This particular blog was ’10 ways I deal with my own procrastination’ and one of the tips was that if you were struggling to get something started, then just go off and do something else on the list, an easy thing to get you started on the ‘doing’ action again.

So at this point, I broke off and I looked around my coworking space and everyone is sat in front of their Mac, Chromebook, Dell or on their smartphone. I thought ‘What are we all doing?’ – so his tip worked, as I am now writing my own daily blog!! Although I had not been procrastinating on this as such, I never do, as I love doing my daily blog. But my mind was elsewhere today, so I was struggling to get started on stuff, now doing this has got the mind off other distractions and now I am into my flow.

Anyway, back to the point.

We are all mainly creating ‘content’ for others to consume, or creating code for the platforms to place that content on.

There are so many businesses, especially start-ups (aka new businesses), that are building these seemingly wonderful new apps, platforms, content machines and social networks to deliver all this content. Yet what value do they add? Is there a point where we are all just creating content for the sake of it, in this never ending cycle of broadcasting.

Surely it is all just the ’emperor’s new clothes’.

Increasingly in this digital world that we live in, more and more of us are constructing articles, videos, tweets, podcasts and so on for others to view, read or listen too.

This, in turn, inspires them to repurpose this information, add their own take and then send it back out into the ether for others to consume, perhaps even for some of the people who created that very content in the first place.

So is this what life has come to?

Before, people made chairs, tools, cars, clothes, or other physical things that we needed for our day to day lives. Now these can all or will be made by machines with little or no human interaction needed.

This means that an ever increasing number of us will be engaged in daily activity that creates output that is not needed for our day-to-day lives. It may be necessary to get us to consume more of the stuff that we really don’t need, but what value does it add?

Just how many blogs, articles, podcasts, videos, tweets, updates and content can we consume and how much can it really enhance our lives?

The answer is we can only consume so much and more importantly, we will only consume the very best content.

This means that the best content writers will rise to the top, the ones who create something remarkable, noteworthy, different and certainly risky, will succeed, and those who play it safe will fail. I wrote about this recently in ‘The 3 R’s of marketing’.

Sure we need those physical things that are essential to life and it really doesn’t matter whether humans or machines make them, with exception that the human touch will always make something spectacular that the mass production can not. There will and is already niche producers of the physical that are and will flourish.

The same with production of digital things is already and will continue to happen. Mass content is dull and lacking in engagement and imagination, well crafted smart content leads to interaction.

The important thing though about life and what really matters, what makes life the wonderful gift is not what we need, it is what we want, what we desire, what we love.

Sure I need a bed to sleep on, but what I want is a great blog to read, a wonderful piece of art to hang on the wall and admire, a beautiful song to fill my ears, an amazing film to watch, an app that enables me to be more productive and spend more time with the people who matter, an informative newsletter that connects me to things that enable me to have a fuller life.

In a digital world, we can connect to ideas and people all over the world that we would have previously never known or been able to connect with. Used in the right way it enriches our lives.

So let the machines build the mass, and let the humans create the wonderful physical and virtual things that make life a joy.

The best content or app creators will help to enrich our lives and will develop new and exciting things that we have not yet imagined possible.

The key as in everything in life, is to strive to create our very best and then to share it with others. It is all about making connections that we want not about making physical things we need.

Don’t create virtual content or physical things for that matter, that people need, create what they want. If not, then people will not read your blog, listen to your podcast or subscribe to you.

Anyway back to my blog on ways of avoiding procrastination.