Communication nervous breakdown

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We moved our offices recently and some technical difficulties left us without computer and Internet service for a couple of days. This brought to my attention how enormously technology affects the way a person works and thinks today. The younger the employee, the more helpless and hopeless they seemed. They had an especially hard time figuring out a way to work without their technology. It’s amazing to think that less than a decade ago none of us were on the Internet. Fax and FedEx were how we communicated documents quickly. It was only a decade before that that computers became a usable tool to creative people. My, how things change. But some things should not change completely. Creativity should remain an organic process.

I know how much the Internet helps me when I’m creating. It is an amazing tool to find information instantly. But I wonder if we strip away all of our technology and would we think more or less creatively? Study the ad annuals from the last few years. There aren’t any huge breakthroughs that were caused by technology. The great ideas were obviously created the old-fashioned way.

Could access to so much information actually be counter-productive to creativity? I have always told my creative teams to get out of their offices to concept. The office stifles creativity and technology makes it more so. I sometimes have to shoo the younger people away from their computers. It’s like a drug fix to them. Coming up with a great idea is hard even for the most talented people and it’s very easy to get busy with other things. The computer offers a myriad of opportunities to do just that. It’s like the fast food of busy work. It’s filling, but there’s not nutritional value.

The computer not only can limit creative thinking, it also conforms it. I tell art directors to never show me their designs as anything but a rough thumbnail. I call computer layouts “quarked.” You can spot them easily. They’re like Volvos – very boxy. Computers are not considerate of the concept. Their very nature leads the thinker’s hand not his or her head.

When our computers didn’t come up after we moved it was pretty irritating and inconvenient. But it wasn’t long before I was embracing the situation. I told my creative that we still had to get the work done. I think the situation actually freed their minds and exercised mental muscles they may not have used in a while. We have our computers back up now and we really didn’t get that far behind. I think being without their technology reminded us that an ad that creates a visceral reaction comes from the gut. And so far, the gut is not wired.
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