David Brooks in The New York Times has an important op-ed piece today called "The Protocol Society." http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/22/opinion/22brooks.htmlBasically, Brooks' thesis is simple. When we as a society switched from manufacturing products to a knowledge economy we went from making things to making rules.
Something like a food-court in a mall, Brooks points out, has protocols for everything from making food, to greeting customers, to where to put the tables.
This protocolization of our economy has the virtue of standardization. When you go into a McDonald's, it doesn't matter where you are--from Alaska to Zamibia, you are in a McDonald's.
And here's the thing.
In an effort to make rules for everything, rules that every idiot can follow, we have McDonald-ized everything. The other day, my art-director designed an ad in a new campaign with the logo NOT in the lower right. That's against the rules.
And when they do, creativity dies.