Image by berbercarpet via FlickrThere exists a fine line between false praise and encouragement.
Encouragement is necessary. It provides a positive support while someone is either exploring their creativity of improving their craft. No one is instantly good at anything, so we all naturally go through a development process in anything that we do.
But unlike encouragement, false praise halts development. It incorrectly leads people to believe that they are at the top of their game, and that no further improvements are necessary.
I see this happen all to often in the new media sphere. It's as if some special pass is given. Some bar has been lowered. A general understanding that is simply can't be as good as "traditional" media. And since it can't, then we should have our own devalued sense of quality.
To speak frankly for a moment: fuck that.
I don't think new media has anything to prove to anyone. I think there is plenty of room for huge variations in quality. And I fully understand that we're often examining qualitative aspects. And yes, there is plenty of low quality stuff on the radio, TV, movies, theaters and more. New media shouldn't strive to be traditional media.
In fact, we need to lose those labels for moment. Let's talk about media. And let's use the same scales.
Was the last podcast you were on "one of the finest you've ever been on", or was it simply good? Was that last free book you listened to "better than anything I can buy at the store", or just a good yarn? Was there nothing worthy of fixing? Did they nail it on all points? And are you being honest?
I hereby dub 2009 The Year of Honest Criticism. Wanna join me? Note that this doesn't mean I'll be trashing everything I dislike. I'm not that big of a new media douchebag. But will be giving honest feedback when it's asked for, and I'll moderate my own enthusiasm for things, relying less on superlatives and hyperbole. Reality. Whoa.