Batman, coffee and spec work

Blue Bottle Cafe

I am a web developer, developing for me is an art. An art I enjoy. The joy I get from turning those lines of code to become something beautiful, something useful, so to speak-turning those lines of code to art, is truly my high.

Keeping this in mind I have come to believe, no matter how noble the original intent, crowdsourcing is the wrong direction to go. Be it odesk, elance, 99designs or any other such platform. Its not only harming to us- the magical grunts -but also the clients.

“You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. Something I heard in that Batman movie.

It has to be true.

And in the last few months I have realized that these platforms, should have died before becoming the villain they have become today.

Now, when these platforms were developed they did have noble intentions. A platform where your work spoke, where you could gain experience and where you could network with prospective clients and fellow oddballs, in a manner which was literally easier than stealing that yum little chocolate ice cream from a baby.

It was a wet dream for newcomers and studios alike! And I mean drool worthy wet dreams. But now? Freelancers look to out bid fellow freelancers, driving down prices of their own hardwork! Clients are looking at the reliability sure, but they are also looking at the the perfect mixture of reliability and cheap labor. Is that fair? no. Neither to the magical grunt-force nor the client themselves.

Dont get me wrong, crowdsourcing has its own advantages. But what is it leading to? Our precious field, our creative process, our endless smoking for that vague idea – like that elusive itch on our balls, that beautiful euphoric moment and all the other joys for which we create, for which we strive, are turned to nothing but just another deadline? And a bid just a fraction smaller than the last person’s.

Copy pasting the cover letters and copy pasting ideas just to finish the project so that we can bid for the next one, then the next and so on. We are turning to drones faster than even the military can produce.

Hell, I am sure I was one of the earlier excited schmucks who jumped to create an account on these sites. Soon that excitement got buried knee deep in a trench made by my light speed usage of CTRL + C & CTRL +V, literally and figuratively (I mean the copy pasting, not the trench!).

50$ for a website? Come-on!!! Geez. How about a spit and shine too!

Where did we go wrong? Where did our excitement go? We used to create art no matter which form, be it design, development, marketing, writing… Anything, everything! Instead we’re waiting for the next bid instead of the next challenge?

I miss the creative process.

The endless talk with the client over endless supply of coffee, discussing what exactly do they mean when they say that they are “neo-modern”.

What do they symbolize? Do they really need that marquee text? The brainstorming sessions. The meeting of equals. Not a war, but a meeting of ideas. Above all, the freedom of art, for both the clients and us – the magical grunt-force.