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Is Creativity Becoming a Commodity?

Daniel Pink, an outstanding author of several outstanding books, wrote A Whole New Mind:  Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. In it, he presented the general idea that creative skills are one of the last set of skills that hasn’t been commoditized.   The book was published almost 10 years ago, and it may be time for new thoughts on the matter.

The reason I say this is because creativity is now becoming a commodity for the same reasons that technical and administrative skills went that direction in the past.  In Mr. Pink’s words, “Abundance, Asia, and Automation,” account for much of the commoditization of those skills, and those same issues have been affecting the production of creative content in the last few years.

Take for example, Canva (www.canva.com).   This service is an unbelievable bargain for web developers who don’t have a dedicated graphics designer on staff.   In a matter of minutes, and with a few dollars spent, anyone with a sense of style at all can create professional looking graphic pieces for a number of different mediums - print, web, social posts, blog posts, etc.   You can start with one of their pre-designed layouts, change a picture (which will cost you an entire, hard-earned dollar), change the text and colors to match your existing color palette, and click the download button.   It couldn’t be easier.

Another example is Fiverr (www.fiverr.com).   I’ve purchased several content pieces from this site, from logos to well written articles.  Of course, you should expect to pay more the $5.00 for the good stuff, but it’s very easy to get a nice article drafted for you for $20.00 or so.   Give them a $20.00 tip and they’re ecstatic.   Ask them to work for you off the site so you can pay them what you feel they are worth, and you get turned down.   It almost doesn’t make sense from the buying end, but I’m sure the sellers have their reasons, and I’m good with that.

And, finally, Twitter Bootstrap (www.getbootstrap.com) has, in my opinion, revolutionized web design.   Search for a good Wordpress theme, and it’s likely to be based on Bootstrap.  Search for a good admin theme to start a web application project with, virtually all of them are based on Bootstrap.   Why?   Because out of the box, it’s the cleanest, and most professional, CSS/JS framework out there. And, if you’re good with Less or Sass, as most good web developers are, it’s a breeze to customize to fit your needs.  Add a few nice jQuery plugins and you’ll have a site as good as anyone’s with a day’s work.   

Of course, there will always be a market for high-end designers, but that market is getting smaller and smaller, and the jobs will likely become more difficult and more expensive to fill.  When a web designer can sit at home, built a nice theme from Bootstrap, market it on a site like WrapBootstrap (www.wrapbootstrap.com) and sell hundreds of copies for $20 each, why would he/she want to sit in a cubicle working on one-off custom designs for less?

So, what’s the next group that will rule the world?

Posted on May 08, 2015