Can authorship be social?

Authorship is an individual affair, or a close collaboration of like-minded individuals. Minimum Noise meets neither criterion.

Is music modular enough to make music production social, Linux style? Minimum Noise, premised on the idea that music creation can be crowdsourced, thinks so, but I doubt it.

Robin Wauters at TechCrunch gives Minimum Noise the benefit of the doubt, then suggests it is unlikely to work. It's not hard to guess why: creativity is rarely a social activity, at least, not in this way. Creativity is an individual's response to the world.

This is not to say, however, that individual responses couldn't be aggregated into a complete work, as Minimum Noise seeks to do, and as regularly happens in open source. However, using open source as an exemplar is problematic because the majority of open-source software tends to get written just like proprietary software: by a small core of dedicated professionals. True, they may not be employed by the same company, but the importance is in the close, dedicated relationship of the core contributors.

Minimum Noise would need to replicate this, but it's hard to imagine a group of like-minded musicians discovering each other and then collaborating online. Call me romantic, but I still believe in bands creating music in the studio or somewhere together. While the different instruments are modular, in the code sense, which is a critical element of open source success, the proper synthesis of the disparate parts won't happen well over the Web.

Minimum Noise may be a noble effort, but I can't see it working. Some authorship can be relatively social, like open-source software, but music...? I don't think so.

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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