Don’t Believe Everything You Read On The Internet

Bit of a cautionary tale about how we process and evaluate the deluge of information we receive these days thanks to microblogging sites like Twitter. I follow a number of people via Twitter and I think it has helped the quality of my blog posts because it is easier for me to get information on a wider variety of topics than I can often get reading other people’s blogs. (Though there are a lot of blog I follow faithfully as well.) I have been considering starting a Twitter account associated with my blog because there are so many tidbits I come across that aren’t necessarily worth a blog post, but interesting and worthy of some consideration just the same.

I imagine that is the situation David Dombrosky is in. He probably follows more people than I do and passes along anything that sounds a little interesting as he did last week when he retweeted Jeese Newhart’s tweet “Seth Godin: Why Artists Think It’s Safer To Fail Small” David probably didn’t get a chance to watch the video in the blog post using that exact phrase as a title which Jesse linked to. Judging by the number of tweets Jesse has, he may not have had time to watch it either.

I bookmarked it to watch this weekend with the intention of doing an entry expanding on Seth Godin’s thoughts.

Problem is, Seth Godin doesn’t say this at all about artists. He doesn’t mention artists at all. His talk is about entrepreneurs who heed their lizard brains and never fully commit to taking risks. Granted, these statements can apply to artists, but the title and in fact the text of the entry claim Godin addresses a problem specific to artists and music when he references neither.

“Seth Godin gives a speech on how artists sabotage their work. They follow the pattern and attempt to fail small…. At the last minute, most artists will take a half step back and take that compelling elements out of their music because it’s safer to fail small. The resistance causes them to compromise truly great music and settle for an album that’s good enough.”

Commenters on the post criticize all these misleading elements but I didn’t even look at those until I started wondering when Godin was going to talk about artists. I lay the blame for laziness and poor quality on the shoulders of Kyle Bylin who authored the post. Given the text of the post I can’t blame those who saw something of potential interest to the arts crowd and passed the link onward.

But now thanks to the speed at which information can be passed along using texts and tweets and status updates, when arts people gather to discuss the trials and tribulations of working in the field as they are wont to do, there is the potential that thousands may utter something akin to “Did you see that Seth Godin says artists are too meek and only produce commercially viable products?”

While there is a good chance that he might say that, he didn’t.

I am sure it doesn’t come as news in times such as the current political campaigns that it is easy to spread misinformation to a great number of people. We have to remind ourselves that it can happen in areas we don’t perceive as political.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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