Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Hip Hop on Weinberger

David Weinberger to Microsoft:
When it comes to creative works, we are not "consumers," and we are not users. Rather we appropriate creative works, that is, we make them our own. We apply them to our own context. We get them somewhat right or entirely wrong. They become part of us. That's how how we learn and how culture changes.

If you look at the Hip Hop scene, this seems to be precisely how many of the musicians are now operating. Some well known names seem to exist only on other artists' tracks. Or, the "same" song is done with one or more others, then remixed, then laid down again with some other people.

The one-to-one correspondence of artist to "work of intellectual property" that once ruled in pop and rock is, for the moment anyway, displaced. The scene matters more than any single "celebrity." Eminem uses D12 brilliantly to decelebritize himself.
But that means that creators should lose control of their works as quickly as possible. Obviously, creators need to be be paid for their work, but not for every bit of value they create: You shouldn't have to pay me if you re-read my book or lend it to a friend, even though you are getting more value from my book.

Couldn't one argue with equal ease that the book is gaining value by reaching more readers? That a song acquires added value by being performed variously by different combinations of people? The thing about Hip Hop remixes and multiple recordings is, how do they track who gets paid what? Perhaps Microsoft and other DRM folks could look at what is happening there.
...publishing creates the public...

Yes and more than the public -- it creates worlds. It is uncool to be a solo Hip Hop artist right now. One big success is working on stuff under an assumed name - in part just to avoid the tedious syndrome of the former regime of Stars and Hits.

Current Hip Hop recording practices have produced a promiscuous scene in which artists (at least, in appearance) jam freely and openly in some unending mammoth recording studio where small, loosely jointed groups hang, work and create and sometimes develop splendid animosities, giving them fuel for further songs and remixes (bloggers take note).


Blogger Jon Husband said...

Blogging I think lets us put what we may have in our individual private minds into a public space for anyone to see who wishes to look. Then, more promiscuous possibilities can be entertained such as mixing and swapping an remixing individual minds, loosely joining those "pieces" with any-which-way hyperlinks.

In France there is a lovely anglicism which denotes a certain kind of promiscuous swapping and mixing.

Nous qui "bloggons", est-ce qu'on est les swappistes de l'Internet ?

* I'm just guessing that we would spell it "bloggons" rather than "blogons" in French - not quite sure what l'Academie de la langue francaise would suggest.

6/24/2004 2:51 AM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

There appears to be support for both blogons and bloggons. Ten thousand frenchmen can be wrong.

I would put the accent (aigu) less on the dance of the individual selves than on the scene. Whether it's Nelly, Pharrel, Kardinal Offishal, or Eamon is less important than that there is this depth in the bullpen. The Hip Hop world is an emblem of low barriers to community, wealth, art and love.

6/24/2004 6:27 PM  
Blogger Jon Husband said...

Indeed. There has often been talk of art, poetry, music being the means for re-membering ourselves, and re-encountering our humanity. And there have been tentative forays into that wilderness.

The music scene, in particular, has fascinated me - suburban women in their SUV's with Eminem cranked, knowing all the words, accountants at PriceWaterhouse getting their main thrills, being alive, at a Dave Matthews concert - and afgain knowing all the words. And, initiatives like Prince's Musicology, the P2P phenomenon that was Napster, LimeWire, KaZaa.

And of course the RIAA has pushed back mightily.

Given how music touches us at such a primal level - as does dancing in an R&B bar (for me;-) - I have continued to be surprised that musicians have not decided to be more revolutionary than they have been to date. They could, I believe, make a very big antidotal and transformative difference if en masse there were more activism, a la Billy Bragg.

Tom, I have taken the liberty of forwarding this item to my Connecticut high school best friend (1970), who now lives in NYC and has been the senior rock critic for the NY Times for the past 15 years or so. So, if we see some article that resembles the ideas in this post, it may be that this item has had some influence of his perspectives. I believe and trust that you won't mind.

6/24/2004 10:36 PM  
Blogger Jon Husband said...

Oh, and I think my previous comment is a bit OT.

I took the central message of your post that the current dynamics of the hip-hop scene may be an "early signal" of new forms of collaboration and push back to established methods of gaining profile, audience and notoriety - the kind of dynamic that may grow to be mainstream in 5 or 10 years, spread throughout a much wider variety of activities. Will blogging A-listers minimize or camouflage their notoriety, or go even further and use it primarily for the commons and the re-furbuishing of civil societies ? In what other spheres might we see similar dynamics ?

6/24/2004 10:54 PM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6/25/2004 10:53 AM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6/25/2004 10:56 AM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

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6/25/2004 10:57 AM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

Some Bloggah glitch wasn't allowing me to reply - Jon, I'll mostly just chew on your thoughts here for now. I do wonder about how the "primal" power of music often seems to exceed or elude the musician who makes it. Other than country and western music, which is mostly mere restoration wit in large hair. Napster was, it seems to me, an example of a spontaneous community springing into existence out of love of music. Anyone who opts for I-tunes has essentially decided corporate control is a better idea. For them, I offer this download

6/27/2004 9:02 AM  
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