A substitute for creativity.

Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Content management, Marketing | 0 comments

Every week or so, I post free online tools that I find around the web. There are lots of great little apps and websites that help people create and share their ideas with others. Not everyone has access to big creative tools like PhotoShop and Illustrator, and not everyone can maintain a full-scale website of their own. But these free tools are not meant to be a substitute for original work. Sure, curation — sharing the content of others — is a legitimate activity, but it should be obvious who the source of the work is.

substitute for creativityAggregator sites like AllTop are great places to find — a better word than curate — content to share. I was thrilled when one of my posts made AllTop’s “Holy Kaw” list, ostensibly the best find of the day, and was feeling pretty proud that my original thoughts would be shared across the internet; clearly whoever curates AllTop has excellent taste.

Then I got sucked into a post with a funny title (I’m not giving you the link because I don’t want the poster to get the traffic, but you see it here). The post that made it to the Holy Kaw list is comprised of a generic graphic (generic in the sense that the visual has nothing to do with the words) created in Canva, a minimal introduction, and a link to an actual article that Paul Anthony Jones at Mental Floss went to the trouble to compose.

In fact, a little scrolling shows that all five of the Holy Kaw posts of the day use graphics “created” in Canva. All are basically introductions to longer, original articles by other writers, and some include graphics or video from those articles. Three are posted by the same guy who posted the one you see here, the other two were posted by a gal using the same technique. From all the gazillion posts by blogs listed on AllTop (including this one, for the moment), are we to believe that there are only two “authors” worthy of the Holy Kaw list? It is a delightful coincidence that Guy Kawasaki, who runs AllTop, is also the official “Chief Evangelist” of Canva.

Again, nothing wrong with curation. Most online marketers, content marketers, and social media marketers would say that AllTop is simply content marketing — for Canva — at its finest. Sort of content marketing on steroids. Just be sure to click through to the real authors of the real content, and don’t use this technique as a substitute for creativity.


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Kim Phillips is a marketer, artist and teacher who helps companies of all sizes to reach their audiences with creative branding, social media, websites, content management, email marketing, and direct mail. She is based in Nashville, Tennessee.

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