Any creative person will tell you that finding good inspiration is an important step in the creative process. Some will go as far as to point out that almost all creative work is an iteration (or remix) of previously contributed work (like the fantastic Everything is a Remix series).
As a web designer, I used to spend a lot of time searching out inspiration on web design blogs and galleries. Edmonton isn't the most artistic community so the internet has always provided the means to break out of my locale to find inspiration elsewhere. Web design galleries have always provided a great resource for creative professionals, like myself, to find great examples of work in my industry. At some point, this resource started to decline for me. With the increased emphasis on usability came a trend in utilitarianism and minimalism. Don't get me wrong, that has its place, but it has become an overwhelming influence in the medium. It seems like the emphasis on standards and quality has created a creative landscape that is flat and boring. The kinds of websites that get featured in these blogs, today, are all very stark, very redundant, and very homogenous. It's like there's a standard formula and then you see it over and over and over again. It's gotten to the point, where I just don't bother anymore and have resolved to find inspiration elsewhere.
Where this progression has become really obvious to me is in the kinds of reactions I get from clients. I used to send clients to these same galleries to try and measure their tastes for certain styles and to get feedback about the kinds of sites they like. 5-10 years ago, I'd get really enthusiastic responses from clients when I sent them to these sites. Now, without fail, every single client responds with, "I didn't like any of them." This reveals two things to me. One, we, as web designers, have become so closed in about taste and style that we've lost touch with the wider world and the people we're supposed to be working for. Secondly, we've forgotten that one style does NOT rule them all. We've been taking for granted that minimalism and modernism are best. There's no objective basis for this claim. The world is far more diverse than this attitude represents and we need to spend more time finding influence from sources other than our own narcissistic circle… otherwise, web design as a creative expression and profession will continue to lose its focus and ability to communicate something meaningful to the outside world.