How democratisation of skill is reshaping the world

I was introduced to the technicalities of operating a SLR camera back when I was pursuing post graduation in mass communication in 2002. I found it a tad complicated to follow. It required a lot of patience and practice to be able to begin to produce decent photographs. We were also taught how to develop films in a darkroom. Photography was known as the millionaire’s hobby because of the high costs involved in owning a camera, to keep a steady stream of film rolls, well, rolling in and to set up a darkroom or to pay a studio for the same. To say that the world has been reshaped since then, would of course be an understatement.

At the time when I was learning to operate a SLR camera in college, camera phones had already made an appearance in Korea and the idea of people walking down streets clicking pictures on the go from their phones, sounded straight out of a science fiction novel. In another 2 years, camera phones became fairly common in India as well. And in another 10 odd years mobile phone cameras would start to pose an actual threat to the livelihoods of skilled SLR camera photographers. Today, by 2024, the livelihoods of many other skilled professionals is under threat.

Nearly 14 years ago, Instagram started facilitating anybody with a camera phone and internet connectivity to be able to capture and publish moments beautifully from anywhere, on the go. Turns out, when not expensive and tedious, everyone loves to be a photographer. As per, as of January 2024, India alone had a total of 362 million Instagram users, the largest Instagram audience in the world.

It is hard to think of a skill that has not become the victim of de-expatriation, for lack of a better word. The first blogging platform, Open Diary, started in 1998 making it possible for anyone to publish their own stories, ideas and points of view and share it with the world, free from the gatekeepers who until then controlled what was worth publishing and what was not. Social networking sites and dating apps give even the most introverted among us a fighting chance at the possibility of finding a companion. Easy video and image editing apps make it possible to make brand communications from your apartment.

If there are no apps to do it for you, you can still learn any skill you put your heart to, from the convenience of your own home for free. YouTube makes learning how to do anything, available to anyone in any part of the world. Be it laying the tiles in your bathroom, baking cake in a mug, building your own business, navigating the stock market or crochet.

This democratisation of skill is changing the dynamics of the way the world functions. Generative AI being the latest to usurp the skills of writing, researching, analysing, designing and video making away from the experts by making it quicker, simpler and cheaper. We may vilify it or glorify it. Embrace it or fear it. But one thing we can’t do is prevent anyone from benefiting from it. It throws open the gates to a new world order where the only skill that will truly matter is how well you adapt and use the tools that democratise skills to advance human output, ideally for collective progress.

Back when exclusivity was currency, the gatekeepers of success across industries slowed down the process of exploration, experimentation and innovation. The advancement of technology has made way for a free, fearless exchange of ideas to be further amplified by like-minded people to collectively reap the rewards of combining forces. This has made way for a rejection of toxic insecurities, an appreciation of self-worth, a fearlessness to tap into every self-potential, greater empathy and building up of each other. Democratisation of skill is changing the fundamentals of what defines our value as a human resource.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Pooja Nair
Pooja Nair has over 20 years of experience as a branding consultant across leading global Ad consultancies. Pooja is also known to be an ex theater performer, actress and model. Since September, 2022, she has focussed completely on her passion for the changing face of business, brand-building and reputation.

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