Thursday, January 10, 2013

Does Experience Matter?

There's an old joke:
A recently laid-off engineer is called by his former boss to fix one of the factory's machines. The factory had been offline for days due to this machine having malfunctioned, and the laid-off engineer was the only person that knew how to fix it.

He arrived at the factory and examined the machine. Within moments he located the problem, and drew a giant "X" on the broken part. He sent the company a bill for ten thousand dollars.

His old boss was a bit angered: "It only took you one minute to fix the machine, but you want ten grand. I'm going to need to see an itemized breakout to show why I should pay you this much!"
So the engineer sent another invoice. This one read:

1ea: "X"  - $1.00
1ea Knowing where to put it - $9,999.00
Peter Gabriel released "Music Tiles" today. Its an app for Apple iThings.
"MusicTiles allows everybody to create Peter Gabriel music, transforming music fans from passive listeners to active performers."
I mean, really, what's the point anymore? Why bother to excel when now an app can turn "everybody" into a Peter Gabriel producer?

And don't bother me with invocations of magic: "There will always be people who are more creative, more skilled..." THAT DOESN'T MATTER!!  Someone who's investing time in fiddling around with fantasies of creating "Peter Gabriel music" on their iToy is not someone investing time in a band/artist (other than Peter Gabriel, good on him there.) They're trying to speak - not listen.

Everybody's got something to say, and everybody feels they deserve to be heard. As the saying goes, when your mouth's open, your ears and mind... aren't.
"I have always loved the idea that music and art should be fully open media from which no-one is excluded. They are languages that anyone can learn to speak and definitely not the exclusive province of the high priests armed with 'Talent '." Peter Gabriel, High Priest
I wonder if Peter could be prompted to name three or four of these priests armed with "Talent" (scarequotes.)

This isn't so much about Gabriel and what he chooses to do as much as its about the language and assumptions about art and creativity. The arts may indeed be democratic at an entry level, however, our culture demands we compare one another. These elements are in constant tension - the idea of democratic access (anyone can do it!) versus the need to recognize excellence.

(I want to write more about this but am to short of time today. Wanted to get these thoughts out.)