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Amateur is the new professional

by Brad Hines 7.13.12

Amateur is the new professional

I’ve noticed a trend in the last few years that is a subset of the web’s democratization. Quality-wise, many things that are typically of a professional caliber, these days, are deliberately emulating amateur quality and style- done right, this is the new "professional."

It seems that if many folks aren’t trying to emulate amateur, they aren’t trying very hard to be sophisticated and polished either, not only is this not mattering, it's helping business. Take for instance, which has had the exact same user interface for over a decade, a plain gray background and text-heavy lists evocative of the web 1.0 world. Craigslist has never bothered to keep up with web design trends, and it would seem they've never needed to.

Recent educational wunderkind Sal Khan has a similar philosophy regarding his The burgeoning educational video site that has been infused with millions in capital from the likes of Bill Gates, Anne Doer, and more- has over 3000 videos, most of which are recorded by Khan himself with amateur voice-over equipment, and an un-edited, homemade style. For example, in Khan's videos, he often will just leave in the mistakes, and often uses no script which lends to an organic feel, like he's right over your shoulder working with you almost. His visuals leave little to the imagination as well, using nothing more then a few colors on a black screen with a basic program called SmoothDraw.

In Carly Rae Jepsen's official music video for her hit single "Call Me Maybe", there is an uncanny amateur feel to it. Ms. Jepsen was not available for commentary on her 40Million hit+ video, but you'd be hard-pressed to disagree after viewing it that it isn't rather homemade looking. (and it's got a beat you can write an article to!) But It's like they were tired of the kid next door having all the fun on YouTube with their homemade video, and they wanted to be part of the amateur movement too.

The defining factor in these examples would seem to be that each had enough of certain traits to circumvent being done "professionally", namely a kind of passion about all of them. Passion is of course infectious, and mistakes are humbling. Craig Newmark of Craigslist made the site originally out of personal enjoyment of helping people find the best links-not profit seeking. In a KhanAcademy video, founder Sal Khan plows ahead in each video, with an indubious joy of the material in his voice-undulating- as he gets to a part that excites him. And in the Carly Rae Jepsen video, we see a group of teenagers in a basement with a combined networth of over $100 million dollars, dancing like no one is watching, or that they have a combined networth of over $100 million dollars.


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Brad Hines YumDomainsAbout the author: Brad Hines is the president of, the founder of, and an Internet analyst. He is a writer who writes about internet and business trends. He can be followed on Twitter:




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