Instead, blogs, videos, podcasts, etc., are merely re-imagining everything that has come before. Originality is a long-gone word and recyclability is the “new original”.

Let’s discuss – the comments are open.

image: Francisco Sanchez

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Danny Brown
Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing. #1 marketing blog in world as per HubSpot. Husband. Father. Optimist. Pragmatist. Never says no to a good single malt. You can find me on Twitter - Google+ - LinkedIn.

71 comments
Izhar
Izhar

I think Danny is right, originality is rare, copycats are all there. But from start man is copycat, tried to fly like bird! swim like fish! climb on trees like monkey!! Man started learning from copying!! And people after them added some and recycled rest of them!!

In the world of web, inspiration has become a basic part of life. If you don't what is happening and can't follow the trend then you will be out!! What you think?

Mike Faircloth
Mike Faircloth

This is the way of the world. A handful of people creating "new" and the rest manipulating it in so many ways until it isn't new anymore. What's left is an opportunity to repurpose the "old" and create a whole new "new". 

Naveen
Naveen

Hi Danny, Thanks for this thought provoking "thought". You see, online world has matured a lot with advancement of hardware (cloud storage and unlimited hosting) and internet speeds. Both of these factors enable people to create other forms of content (info-graphics, videos, slides) which are easily "consumable" by the readers than skimming through lines of "text". After all, a well served dish always wins the heart :-) Regarding originality, there is nothing called "100%" original on this earth. Whatever we do, is inspired by someone and what we do , inspire someone else. So it's cycle which recycles itself. My 2 scents. I am 99.99% original here :-)

Mike
Mike

With the millions and millions of new blogs and websites popping up by the minute, it does seem there is a redundancy of content rampant on the web. The frustrating part is working hard to create valuable content and finding it nearly impossible to build a tribe as people are already subscribed to gazillions of blogs already. Danny, this is the first time coming across your site and can see the engagement is fantastic. Congrats on putting out content that gets people talking and sharing.

Bill Joyce
Bill Joyce

Hi Danny I own a real estate brokerage in Sacramento. I believe I have some original content, although rarely too much new to find on buying and selling homes. For general real estate content I curate from an abundance of available material (to your point). My original content is original as it applies to my market, addressing Wall St. practices and Fed policy and its impact on the average homeowner. www.SurvivingTheAmericanDream.org is meant to bring to light fraud, abuse and manipulation in the mortgage and housing markets. The future of housing and homeownership is going to change. It is an artificially manipulated market and, as it is today, is ultimately unsustainable. Our instinctive desire to own our own homes needs to be re-examined more critically. Much like the stock market, residential real estate has become a target of opportunity for more informed, influential and funded participants than the average homeowner. I often feel a bit isolated in this perspective. Bill

Valerie Legge
Valerie Legge

So imagination is the key to providing content - the ability to combine elements already out there, just presenting them in a new configuration ... That allows for a great sense of play; it's a form of artistry where individual personalities provide originality and colour. That's why we love offering our Coach Approach workshops as a team of two, and participants say they receive great value. It's not brand-new hot-off-the-press material, it's the way we've chosen to assemble the elements and weave them together that creates such an engaging texture :) Cheers!

Digital Insights
Digital Insights

Originality is a long-gone word and recyclability is the “new original”, this sentence is truly thought provoking. All brands are running behind the numbers by wanting more likes, more followers and connections compared to their competitors. But they are forgetting a important key point by gaining the "Social Media Numbers" no doubt they are connected to their fans and followers. But the main essence being the engagement , value and relationship which cannot be maintained with numbers but with content which should be original and organic has been ignored sadly.

Ivan Widjaya
Ivan Widjaya

It might seem that way but that is really not the case. There are still a handful of creative people. These are the shakers and originators where other ideas come from. After all, there will be no clone if there is no original. I can agree if you say that MOST people are recycling ideas. But ALL is an over-generalization.

Timothy James Square
Timothy James Square

The problem is that so many people are obsessed with social media that they forget to actually live their lives. It's very easy to get stuck in the loop of just repeating what everybody else does when there's no accountability or need for originality. People will blame this on "everything being done already" and other similar excuses; but those same excuses have been around for centuries yet some visionaries break through. Not everyone can be a great creator of new ideas, but the notion that it cannot be done is simply sad.

Lisa Gerber
Lisa Gerber

Well I think about this all the time, and to prove your point, I'll just regurgitate all of these comments with which I mostly agree. :) But truthfully, when I relaunched my blog almost a year ago, I wondered the same thing - the world doesn't need another digital marketing blog so how can I be original in content? Sometimes I won't be - and that's OK because my readers aren't reading all the same stuff we all are. But more important to your point, being original is about making connections and drawing new conclusions. It's also about the creator being the only expert in their own story - so each creator has that going for themselves. And lastly, it's about taking ideas and hopefully elevating them. I read something very cool by Erin Weed over the weekend and I've been trying to decide how to take that and do more with it. Where originality fails is people taking something and doing the same with it.

Bhupesh Shah
Bhupesh Shah

I got sick and tired of the same old content rehashed six ways to Sunday. One person would put out something interesting and insightful and then the bloggers, gurus, mavens and experts would add their spin...attention-grabbing titles, summaries, slideshare mods, infographics, pithy podcasts and video-interpretations of the same piece. When I looked at my online network, I realized that I read, followed and connected with the same people as others in my network - primarily marketing/social media people. My online behaviour was not consistent with my offline behaviour. Offline, I always tend to connect with strangers in different industries and from different walks of life. When I started to do this online, I found a much richer array of content. There is some pretty cool stuff out there - but you gotta get 'out' there.

DAN PEREZ
DAN PEREZ

You're looking in the same social media toilet bowl that everyone else is looking in - that's the problem. Everybody's chasing (barking at) the same cars. There is plenty of fresh content on the web, from art to writing, to free music (check out the great free albums offered from the many online record labels) to great videos (peruse vimeo.com's "Staff Picks"). Stop looking where "they" tell you to and looking for what "they" tell you to look for and you'll be fine... Cheers, mate.

Hootie the Alien
Hootie the Alien

being first doesn't mean it is original. I got into painting and art by seeing stuff in the Museum of Modern Art that anyone could make. Like painting a board red and leaning it against the wall. Tweets aren't original. They are SMS on a public platform. SMS isn't original. Kids were passing notes in class going way back. There are still firsts just not for content because we do keep inventing things. But even these things often existed in some form before the invention. Like when I make fun of social business (not the type you blogged about) and mentioned business has been social since the first time people bartered 10,000 or more years ago.

Tinu Abayomi-Paul
Tinu Abayomi-Paul

After the first iteration, there has never been anything new under the sun really. The web is a water cooler, bar, playground, haven for bullies, pornocopia - another platform for a love interest to reject me on or annoy all our friends with our love declarations. But it's also still very brand new - the difference is our volume of knowledge of the new is full. So we need to make something. I'm not into the collaborative economy yet - as a topic it intrigues but I don't see the value of the discussion for my tribe yet. However, I for one am done talking about the content side of content marketing - I want to talk about the marketing side, distribution, things like the science of spread. I have a good friend who is amazing at predicting whether content will be accepted, go viral, be ignored, fail itself but start a great meme... I don't have the terminology yet but I want to sit down with his years of experience and hear his thoughts. But I don't have time because I have to teach my cousin's old boss about WordPress. Which is not a bad thing, but the activity directs my thoughts. Part of it is filling the need our audience has - we're writing into the content deficit of what the present known needs are - we need more ideas at the edges to help us stretch perhaps?

SlaughterBench
SlaughterBench

Although there is no Zero new content, I propose that we may be looking through the wrong end of the Content Kaleidoscope. For although we have approached the Zero-point of content generation, distribution, and repurposing, we must now consider the inversion-view of today's reality, wherein our apprehension can be renewed: Less than Zero. Less Than Zero is where we are going. The old powers of media enabled us to see Content as something residing "in a box" to be pulled out at will. Now, however, the Social Web of Kaleidoscopic Intelligences the "Content" is not what comes from the box (i.e. the "contents of the container") - rather Content is what gets tweeted inwards and back into the "box" - the box of surprising delight. It is these boxes of surprising delight which have upended the traditional powers of media. In fact, "media" are now voltaic currencies of the "Less Than Zero" energies of today's Content. We have reached the End of Content History and stand now at the capstone of novel pyramids of quantum-like conversations, where thoughts, ideas, products, and services can circumvent the status quos of old and generate the palpable apparitions of embodied remarkability. Thus: It is not that we have Zero New Content - it is the case, rather, that we are entering the Less Than Zero many-fold Content kaleidoscopes.

Bilal Jaffery
Bilal Jaffery

Thank you for raising this. Folks who have been around are tired of seeing the same topics flushed over and over again -- conferences, books, webinars -- you name it. There is too much noise now, not too much signal. Again, expected, given the lower cost of entry.

Digital eMspace
Digital eMspace

I remember reading that Hieronymus Bosch and Erasmus of Rotterdam were concerned in the 15th century that nothing new is said or invented anymore. As well, the same discussion was held in the Expressionism circle in the 20th century. I like these kind of discussions, they seem to sparkle great ideas.

Amy Tobin
Amy Tobin

I totally understand the theory, but I disagree. I think it's busier, and you have to dig through a lot of repeats - kind of like what Cable TV did to television, brought a lot of crap but then some awesome gems too. After these past few weeks with more horrific gun violence, political grandstanding and the awful suicide of Rebecca that I wrote about last week, I was feeling pretty disgusted with it all... until I was reminded that it was all about MY outlook, and what I choose to focus on. So I've culled the blogs I read, and cut out a few of the highly negative people, and focused on finding the good stuff. Just this morning I read a post On Olivier's page about Invisible Man by Ellison and thought: I need to re-read that awesome book. I know that sounds a wee bit 'fake it till you're convinced,' but I've decided that's my only choice, because I'm not going anywhere.

craig rennick
craig rennick

This is not new content. C;mon Danny, some of your stuff is great, very original. If you want to start a conversation - start a conversation!

Ari
Ari

A few years ago I heard an editor of Yankee Magazine talk at a journalism conference and explain how to successfully pitch a story. He explained the magazine's been around 70+ years and has an institutional history of receiving nearly every idea out there. To be published, a writer needed to be original, the editor said. I always think about his words when I read notions from bloggers such as you refer to the online echo chamber and how there are few unique ideas left. But I also think about the book marketplace and how there are a gazillion books about the same subjects. Take two identical subject matters and two different authors -- and the authors are the reasons why one book sells and the other flops. Ditto bloggers. If you write the same content here as every other blogger, so be it; but if you can provide a different tack or a different voice or history, that's why people will flock your way like the shepherd you are.

David
David

Great topic. For sure we all herald those who are brave enough to first cut the stone without knowing what it would look like - "omigosh that's beautiful. You did that?" - and yes, I think they're still out there. But I think there's deeper, more lasting value in polishing the stone over time and applying different skill sets when riffing off of a conversation that's already begun. The stone gets shinier and more compelling. And occasionally, when the light refracts just so, we see something in a way we've never seen it before. I think at the heart of how we respond to "seen it before" is based on the intent behind the communication. Is your appropriation/remix forwarding the discussion and adding to the body of knowledge for knowledge's sake? Maybe your gift is helping others understand something complex in a more accessible, structured way than I can. We all benefit. At the end of the day, you ripping me off with positive intent raises all boats. Thanks Danny!

Patricia Haag
Patricia Haag

I suppose your statement about nothing new on the web is correct. How original can we be when everything is so interconnected. Just try to register that "original" site name and find that it's already taken *sigh*. Some of the best blog posts are roundups of other good blog posts. Commentaries on other posts can bring a new insight or provide a real life example. Perhaps this is why we all curate what is out there already. Twists and angles make the difference. Let's find some new, little-known trend and be quick to write about it.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Hey there Mike, Yep, I hear you on the social noise - it's one of the key reasons I typically search out bloggers that may talk about the same topics, but do it in a unique way that you just can't ignore. I think a revisit to this topic may be in order. And cheers - great to have you here!

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Hi there Bill, Thanks for the thoughtful comment, and the insight into an area I have no real knowledge of. You know, in hindsight, perhaps my statement of there being zero new content was a bit harsh (or, at the very least, too encompassing). Like you and others here have mentioned, it could just be semantics ("new" versus "new take"). As you share in your comment, there can be times when the content we put out is new but, because of its isolation, may not be seen until it's deemed not new (if that makes sense?). Thanks for the reminder, sir.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Cheers, Valerie, and exactly - why reinvent the wheel when just a new set of treads will do the job just as well? :)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

The number chasers, and the platforms/consultants/agencies that spout this as the most important metric, are missing a much bigger picture, and certainly play their part in the lack of originality. After all, why stir the pot when the boring numbers game is working, right? Except it's the pot stirrers that are finding real benefits, while the number chasers continue spinning the same sorry wheel. I guess it's up to us to continue to push past the numbers, and showcase the real gems that are looking ti do something new.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

I'll agree that all is too all-encompassing - yet at the same time, what was the last truly original thing you experienced (brand, product, experience, etc)? These are getting few and far between and is where the viewpoint of this post was born.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

That's a great point, mate, and one that Brian Gardner covered so eloquently in his most recent blog post: http://www.briangardner.com/killing-your-soul/ I wouldn't just limit it to social media though; there's a dearth of originality in anything you look at. That's not to say creativity is floundering; there's a big difference between creation and originality.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

That's the problem right there - I know when I'm writing a post, I'm immediately wary of it being "different enough" from something that's already been written on the topic. But then, there are millions of blogs that I know nothing of, so how can you possibly be aware of what's already out there and strive to be different? Maybe we should just give up, read Perez Hilton, and reminisce about Happy Days... ;-)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Yep, as I mentioned to Dan Perez, I changed my reading habits to move away from the same Marketing/Social 101 stuff that seems to be so prevalent. Traffic chasing has made reading less fun. Though I do still see a lot of laziness in other niches, where bloggers are trying to emulate "leaders" in that vertical, by doing exactly what you highlight - reposition a thought into something slightly different, to try and grab a slice of the traffic pie. Maybe that's what the web is coming down to?

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Yes and no. Completely agree the social media bubble is over-saturated with empty content, that doesn't really push any kind of thoughtful envelope. But because of that, I rarely read any of the blogs I used to subscribe to back in the day, and look for niche blogs, ones that cover a whole host of topics that have nothing to do with marketing, social media, etc. And the lack of newness is evident there too. Perhaps it's simply a by-product of people getting sucked into the "social shares and traffic is everything" mindset - chasing that extra tweet is turning content producers into second-rate versions of who they could really be?

Hootie the Alien
Hootie the Alien

Did you hear the new Bon Jovi!? It sounds like Warrant but better!

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Hmmm, I think it depends on how you're defining original. For me, it's the original act of making or doing something that's never been done before - everything after that may be a new or different way of doing something, but the origin lies with that very first action. More often than not, that can remain the best version out there, as those following play safe and rarely stray from the "rules"...

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

I think that's one of the problems, Tinu, is that people are saying, "Well, the audience isn't ready for this yet, so we'll stick to the same thing we've been saying for the last couple of years". Like the point made over on Facebook today, re. Jason Falls' post on speaking. Thing is, if we continue with that mindset, we never move on, and we get stuck in a comfort zone that benefits a few, but misses out the opportunity to really begin to change the dialogue around any topic. Hey ho.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

Thanks for the heads up, Kevin, look forward to checking them out, hadn't heard of them before!

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

It reminds me of the quote where someone once said that every single song ever written can be traced back to the same four chords. In which case, the music industry is the biggest dearth of originality around... ;-)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

The question is, are the stories and feeds you're subscribing to now offering anything that's actually new or original? Changing the approaches you (as in, generic "you") take when it comes to what you let into your vision is one way to get fresh perspective - but does that fresh perspective actually have truly original thought, or simply another take on a previously written topic or idea? For me, this is where the social web - and, to be fair, creativity in general - is lacking.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

See, I think that's where the thinking behind this post came from, mate - I'm not sure how much originality is left. Uniqueness, yes. Different spin, yes. But true originality? I don't see it. For example, the Yankee Magazine editor: what did he consider original? Something that had truly never been written before? How could that be quantified - even today, with all the search tools we have, it's incredibly hard to be able to say, "My idea has never been presented before." Completely agree with you on the book space - it's one reason we pushed so hard to ensure ours could be written the way it was, where we do feel we brought something very new to the table. But original? No. And I'm happy to admit that, while still being very proud of the end product. :)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

At the end of the day, you ripping me off with positive intent raises all boats. Wait, so I can use the same tactics you used for First Solar and not have to pay you? Sweet! ;-) The "intent behind the communication" angle is an interesting one, mate - essentially, cutting the wheat from the chaff and seeing who can take existing, well-known ideas and theories and still make it seem fresh? Then again, as I mentioned to Dara, even with the most well-intentioned approaches to re-envisioning existing thoughts, does there come a stage when all avenues truly have been exhausted? And, if so, then what? Solid thoughts, David!

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

It's interesting you mention the round-up posts, Patricia - the idea of curating others has really taken off in the last 12-18 months, with some really cool new platforms built to do just that, all with different takes on how it should look and feel, and what services should be on offer. And you know, maybe that's what we're doing anyway - looking at content already out there, and putting our spin on it and turning that into the collection of thoughts (curation) that eventually sees the public eye. Hmmm, thinking.... :)

Mike
Mike

Thanks Danny! Good advice. Time to do the "seeking".

SlaughterBench
SlaughterBench

Exactly. Articulation through the Content Kaleidoscope demands a strident parallax voice.

Digital eMspace
Digital eMspace

No, the music industry is not the biggest dearth of originality, how could it be? Originality needs a strong base, such as four chords, but it is much more than the base. Bach never invented anything from scratch, but his music is glorious.

Digital eMspace
Digital eMspace

I am most definitely biased, but I still think of Bach as original, because I don't feel he has been surpassed by anyone. From my point of view, originality needs a good chunk of familiar, because without it, it would sound delirious. How ready are we as a mass or as an individual to accept something truly and entire new? We all have the need to normalize the originality first, in order to digest it. This is why, I don't' think originality expires that easy, nor is just a remix (is the smartphone just a remix of Morse code?)

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

But then that's not originality anymore, is it? As you mention, it is much more than the base - but the base is the origin, after that it's just a remix (for lack of a better description).

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