Those of you who know me will agree that I am technologically backwards in that the latest electronic gadgets hold no fascination for me. It is somewhat incongruous I suppose since I work at a major technology company. I have never bought a computer (I have always had a work computer) and I still have not been tempted by the smartphone revolution. That being said I am a very passionate advocate of technology and find it incomprehensible when people use their smartphones with their right hand and bash technology with their left. The varied benefits of modern technology are too numerous to list and it is not my intent here to launch into a tirade against anti-technology folks. Instead I want to shed light on one particular aspect of technology that has perhaps been overlooked: the role technology, particularly in the last 50 years or so, has played in democratizing the arts.
Art is an outward expression of an idea in our head and as such needs a medium of expression. Without the medium there is no art. My assertion is that technology has not only created a wider variety of artistic mediums but also ensured that these mediums are available to a broad spectrum of people. Now more than any other time in human history it is easier to bring your creative vision to reality with technology. An aspiring writer need not use the traditional medium of pen and paper to get his writing to people nor does he need to pound the pavement and wait for an editor to get published. You can start a blog like yours truly. The number of people you can reach is only limited by your ability to be social online. What technology has done is lowered the barrier for entry into all types of artistic endeavors.
Aspiring musicians have benefitted from technology tremendously. A wide variety of music software exists to facilitate music creation. You don’t need a big music studio to record music. Software can provide you with all the bell and whistles you need to add to your own compositions. You can jam with your friends remotely. Musicians across different continents and cultures can create music together without spending money on flights and hotels. Technology has even done away with the need for recording on physical media. Photography is another relevant example. No need to mess around with chemicals in dark rooms. And if you believe the hype around Lytro, focussing will become a thing of the past. This new fangled camera allows you to focus after the images are taken!! You can play around and create the perfect picture in the comfort of your home on your computer long after you pressed click. How cool is that?
In addition to providing newer mediums for older art forms technology has also created brand new art forms such as web design and video game creation. Not only is content creation made easier, marketing and selling that content is also faster with technology. More people can dream of making a living through art. And if that is not possible technology makes it simpler still for an average joe such as myself to create his own art and not merely be content with consuming the art created by the professionals. Now that is cool indeed.