Monday, April 25, 2011

Photogs join the club...

Another profession takes a serious hit from the Internet and its ability to undo knowledge-hoarding.

At first glance, David Hobby looks like just another casualty of the decline of print media: A longtime staff photographer for theBaltimore Sun, he was one of many employees who accepted a buyout in 2008 as part of broad staff reductions at the distressed newspaper.Yet last month he embarked on a sold-out, cross-country tour that will visit 29 cities. Approximately $1 million in tickets have been sold for the privilege of hearing Hobby and famed magazine photographer Joe McNally speak about their craft. Hobby's blog,Strobist, on which he teaches amateurs the lighting techniques used by professionals, welcomed 2 million unique visitors last year. (The largest professional photography association has a membership 1 percent of that size.) Manufacturers have named lines of equipment after him, an unheard-of honor.How Hobby went from being a workaday newspaper photographer to an internationally recognized guru is a story tied up with seismic changes in the photography profession. By teaching a horde of novices the skills necessary to shoot photographs of a quality that was until very recently only within the grasp of an elite few, Hobby has played a significant role in the transformation of the profession. In the last few years, the market rate for many types of professional photographs has dropped by as much as 99 percent. [More]
It's hard not to draw parallels with the guild system during the Middle Ages.
Because of industrialization and modernization of the trade and industry, and the rise of powerful nation-states that could directly issue patent and copyrightprotections — often revealing the trade secrets — the guilds' power faded. After the French Revolution they fell in most European nations through the 19th century, as the guild system was disbanded and replaced by free trade laws. By that time, many former handicraft workers had been forced to seek employment in the emerging manufacturing industries, using not closely guarded techniques but standardized methods controlled by corporations.The decline factors of guilds are given following[citation needed]:
  1. There was no proper definition of the rights and trade area of concerning guild.
  2. Middlemen (mediators) played negative roles.
  3. The factory system replaced the guild system.
  4. Discoveries opened a wide market for trading and guilds were unable to provide products.
Or even trades that required arcane skills like working with cast-oron drain pipe as plumbing did. Once PVC showed up and This Old House began, only code restrictions and city inspectors stood between them and suddenly-competent amateurs.

Of course, photography has its own unique aspects, but once photos went digital, the odds of photography being a future career plummeted. See also: travel agents.

Knowledge on demand for free is not leaving agriculture untouched either. Make a list of the farm skills that can only be learned by years of experience and study and are not replicable by a box in the cab.
  1. Negotiating with landowners/sellers
  2. Marketing Wait - averaging will beat active selling in the long run.
What will our work amount to in 20 years? What abilities will make us uniquely qualified to do it?

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