distributed creativity and networked musicians

ccMixter: A Memoir:

When we started the ccMixter project, it was obvious that liberally licensed source material would provide musicians a way to interact that was simply prohibited by an All Rights Reserved model. For all the benefits of participating in the sharing economy that has been touted by free culture advocates, including myself, the surprising result of ccMixter is that it provides evidence indicating the most compelling argument yet: free-wheeling participation in a commons makes the art better.

This is an account by Victor Stone of his experiences as the lead at the ccMixter remix community. It’s fun to read and full of interesting nuggets. His key finding over the years was that the community had a net output greater than any one musician.

Victor coins the term distributed creativity to describe this phenemenon. This is a twist on the computer science concept of distributed computing, which Wikipedia describes as:

In distributed computing a program is split up into parts that run simultaneously on multiple computers communicating over a network. Distributed computing is a form of parallel computing, but parallel computing is most commonly used to describe program parts running simultaneously on multiple processors in the same computer. Both types of processing require dividing a program into parts that can run simultaneously, but distributed programs often must deal with heterogeneous environments, network links of varying latencies, and unpredictable failures in the network or the computers.

Distributed creativity is what you get when you network musicians rather than computers. And to network musicians, they can’t be encumbered by the law. If the law prevents musicians from working together in a networked way, for example by making derived works out of anything they see fit to use, then the law will make the music worse.