Seth Godin on there being lots of “bad poetry” because “it’s easy to become a poet”:
There’s a lot of bad tweeting, bad marketing, bad facebooking, bad emailing and bad music now as well. No barrier certainly leads to a lack of selectivity.
Surprisingly, though, amid the bad art, we actually find more good art. A barrier to entry isn’t the only thing that improves quality. Sometimes it’s sufficient to let artists do their work without a gatekeeper.
Clay Shirky also talks about the effects of abundance, and the eventual payoff, in Cognitive surplus: creativity and generosity in a connected age:
The low-quality material that comes with increased freedom accompanies the experimentation that creates the stuff we will end up prizing… In comparison with a previous age’s scarcity, abundance brings a rapid fall in average quality, but over time experimentation pays off, diversity expands the range of the possible, and the best work becomes better than what went before.
I think this is one reason advanced search, automatic aggregation and organization, and increasingly, manual curation are so important. As I wrote in May 2010:
Search engines and aggregators separate the wheat from the chaff — and with the amount of “chaff” being created, there’s bound to be more wheat as well.