Some time ago I wrote the following in another thread, which I think is in sync with Nick's question:
"...A lot of members on the forum lived and worked in a pre-digital and pre-Internet era. It occurred to me that in that era, images like that most likely would have never been displayed publicly (other than to friends and family).
There were only two ways for public access: publishing in a magazine or book, and displaying it at an exhibition (be it of international standing or a local club one). Both ways include some kind of jurying, some kind of triage, filtering before an image reaches public. Images that were poorly composed, out of focus, and overexposed (for no good reason), had very little, if any chance, to be selected. So, when something did reach the public, it already had a certain "seal of approval". Furthermore, it took considerable effort and resources to prepare images for publication and submit them. Unless you wanted to risk your original transparency, you needed to make a decent copy (a problem in itself), pack it well, go to the post office, etc.
So, the effort and resources needed, plus knowing you will be judged seriously, meant for us that we would need to think twice before attempting to go public with our work. The only way to deal with that was to learn beforehand what tools those who would judge our work would use to evaluate it. So we hit the library, attended courses, joined a camera club, and learned about composition, technique, art, perception, etc. For years, sometimes. Consequently, we had to exercise a fair amount of self-restraint, and when we finally submitted something, we did not have to ask the world "what's wrong with my image"... we knew it already (at least the elementary stuff).
Enter the digital/Internet era: after a (shutter) click, with all those wi-fi memory cards, Kodak's Share buttons, various other cameras with direct access to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc., it might take literally seconds and costs absolutely nothing, before an image is displayed to millions. Anyone can post anything to everyone. No triage, filtering, self-restraint... nada. Hence this deluge of crappy, mediocre, or technically correct, but just plain boring images, creating what psychologists call a "visual noise", on a scale never seen before. And no, I am not an Internet Luddite... just pointing out certain unintended consequences..."