Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Uniqueness of Everyone and Everything

The internet celebrates an egalitarianism of feeling. No one viewpoint can ever be said to be more enlightened or of greater importance than any other. As a result, online culture, or so it appears to me in the non-Geek constituency, is reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s technologically advanced but culturally barren Brave New World.

‘Crowdsourcing’ or ‘the wisdom of crowds’, to quote two contemporary expressions which locate the creative impulse in the mass, can stifle individuality. It does not automatically follow that unfettered access to a machine of self-expression leads to the expression of anything of particular value.

We are all critics and journalists and writers and photographers and filmmakers and artists now. What matters to us is that we allow for the possibility of mass creativity. But will any of what we are rushing to produce with our new technologies have any significance beyond this moment in time?

Garan Holcombe

Friday, 8 April 2011

Make Do and Mend

If, to use current parlance, a ‘creative’ has produced some ‘content’ which you would like to ‘consume,’ shouldn’t you pay for it? Or should you simply continue to download songs and films illegally and pretend that you are a revolutionary intent on destroying the old bourgeois world of controlling intermediaries?

There is nothing new in sharing artistic work. We once copied tapes and films. Those of us who still read borrow books from one another. The P2P impulse, at first sight, might appear to be a communitarian one offering an appealing resistance to the dogma of individualism. But it leaves us with a problem.

How are the people who live by their imagination to make money in a time of romanticised theft? Is it not the moment to bring to an end the Manichean conversation about Corporate Bad Guys versus Online Good Guys? Surely the ones we should be worrying about protecting are not those who receive, promote or sell, but those who make.

Garan Holcomb