Questioning a “Shared Culture”

Hi everyone! This week me and Joamir were thinking that it would be really awesome to talk about the documentary “Press Pause Play” this week. You can view it for free online (here: and it’s only 80 minutes long.

 “Concerned with the larger questions of technology’s problematic side, the most interesting angle Press, Pause Play takes, relates to standards and how these issues have affected our collective notion of “The Artist”. Prior to the digital revolution, standards in creativity tended to lean towards a black and white approach of ‘good art’ vs. ‘bad art’. Generally dictated by organizations, be it, Schools of Fine Art, record companies or Museums, art was delivered to the masses through a top down approach. What we are culturally experiencing today is a polar shift in the traditional methods that dictate fame and success. Art is growing from the ground up, but quantity is altering quality.

Is the democratic self-filtering approach emerging in art a successful one? Or will mediocrity be all you need to survive.”

Here are some other questions to consider when viewing the film: How does new technology inspire collaboration? How has new technology democratised media? What possibilities and problems are posed by this democratisation? How did file sharing influence the music industry? How has this technology influenced the way that we listen to and interact with media?
Here are a few projects to consider that utilize this process through crowdsourcing and scaling collaboration:
Also- If you are interested in the future of publishing, take a look at The Domino Project from Amazon.
How does new technology change the relationship between artists, traditional media companies and publishers, and the audience ? How has the power shifted between the different stake holders, and how has this affected the seriousness of the work produced?
Please share other projects that you think have benefited or suffered from advances in new technology and a shared culture.
Stephanie and Joamir

16 thoughts on “Questioning a “Shared Culture””

  1. PS- I was just sent an invitation to be a beta tester for a new interface called Vidmaker. Vidmaker provides a cloud-based video editor that lets users work with video on any device, anywhere and with anyone. It simplifies video management, editing and collaboration by storing all video data in the cloud while providing Google Docs style real time collaboration and GitHub style project management and reuse. Watch a demo of it here :

    I’m wondering if there is a way to incorporate this into my collaborative storytelling tool!

  2. We are in a time where everyone can be a an artist, Andy Warhol one said that in the future everyone will have their Fithteen minutes of fame. This is happening now, more and more people are able to put content out there with out having much experience. This discredits the many artist who studied film, art and music. Also this makes room for new talent or people who would of never had the opportunity to show their work
    New Technologies have changed the way business and industries work. There where many references to music in the documentary. Once you had to have at least 4,000 dollars to produce a record, while now you could record your whole album on a computer with software you don’t even have to buy. Many artist get their start this way, simply uploading videos on YouTube and being discovered by major labels. I interned at smash studios and spoke to an A&R at colombia records. He told me that the slot’s for recording artist are declining. There are many talented people making good music and putting it out for free, also have a huge following. Now record executives are looking for talent already with a following before sighing anything.

    I feel like this is the You generation everything is catered to everyone instead of specific people. It’s no longer about one person in art, but everyone wants a piece. It becomes overwhelming trying to pick out the true talent. This creates a huge problem because now things become boring and the audience wants more quicker, better and faster.

    Joamir and Stephanie

    1. I would like to challenge the glorification of internet meritocracy! What about the digital divide? What about elite networks? At Kickstarter, for example, I know that personal relationships lead to front-page curation.

      I’d like to know from each person in this class: Do you “discover” artists online? How? What controls your ability to search for content?

      In class today, and on this blog, I hope we can talk about the ways in which in-person social relationships make individuals visible online, and when strangers do indeed vote on the merit of another artists’ visibility. How do you each think online visibility aggregates? When is the widespread distribution of ideas/art/design necessary?

      If, as Clay Shirky reminds us (, our networked information era lowers communication “costs” and helps individuals coordinate action without traditional institutions, voting for one another and participating in media projects together, what responsibilities do online platforms (“coordination infrastructures”) have to the participants? Should these platforms be able to profit in unlimited ways from the content that users generate?

      1. I think that an artists’ visibility on the web does play a large part in their “discovery.” For instance, if you use a program like Pandora and choose a specific radio station, Pandora is deciding what you will listen to based on that first interaction. Or different things will be “suggested” to you based on certain data that you are inputing- like selecting a movie to watch on Netflix. Even the content that your friends share on Facebook or tweets from the people you follow on Twitter is thus filtered to some extent based on the people that show up in your newsfeed. In those situations, someone is in a way controlling the content that you might come across. However, the nature of the web, and the variety of content and people on it, make it possible for a person to discover an artist through less obvious means – but this seems to occur more by random chance than anything else due to the amount of material on the internet. It seems as though we depend on content that is “shared” – and in turn, enjoy the sharing process ourselves.

      2. On one hand, people are definitely recognized for their talents; when projects are posted online, they can be judged based on how many likes or shares it has gotten and what people are saying about it. I definitely discover new artists in this way; for example, searching for a song on Youtube provides you with the most popular covers of that song, and I see for myself which ones I like best. Yes, the content may perhaps be a little random, but you can still get a sense of what is true talent and what is not.

        On the other hand, though, the art world will always be lead by those who have the money, the name, the reputation, and the connections to make it big in the industry. More and more people can make artistic contributions, but I believe that a hierarchy will forever exist that is not based purely on talent. Having an infinite number of likes on your project that you posted online can only get you so far and can only make you so visible to the world. You can communicate with others and learn all the tricks of the trade, but how much power and value will your personal work hold?

  3. We got to a point, which there is a lot of information around. But rather than a problem of information overload, it’s a problem of information consumption. There are tons and tons of information that doesn’t add anything to our lives, but we still waste our time and attention with them. As the web grew some platforms started to allow people to collectively organize the information by tagging it (as said by Clay Shirky). A couple of years ago, some platforms, such as Reddit and Youtube started to come up with ‘upward votes’, allowing people to democratically and collaborative highlight information that is more relevant, but still making the less relevant information visible. I don’t think that the two platforms that i mention make good use of this feature, however good ideas can be use in different settings and the internet is still evolving … there is much more to come! My expectations is that it becomes more socially engaging and more democratize.

    The internet/technology open ways, forms and tools so that we can collaborate, share and make more. My hope is that people spend more time on the creative part of the process rather then the technical part of the process.

    Just a quick/interesting thought about the quantity vs. the quality. In the late 90s, some guys at Warner Bros tried to predict what the internet was going to become and created a cartoon, called FREAKZOID (for those who don’t know who this is: ). Briefly, this cartoon is about a boy who is sucked into the internet and becomes an insane, maniac superhero, with superpowers, nonsense gibberish and that gets distracted with anything stupid that comes into sight.

  4. I agree with Yochai Benklers take on the filter noise ratio that he describes in the Wealth of Networks. Being involved in art production pre and post internet, I have seen that people now have easier access to tools, which is great, but no greater access to larger institutions which are necessary to gain exposure, credibility and distribution. This still depends on social ties. The nature of those social ties, however has changed. It is more nodal and distributed than it used to be. People can distribute work which is interesting to a small cluster of people, and those clusters lead to interest from larger clusters etc. More of a hopscotch approach, but still dependent on social ties.

    Excerpts from Benkler (I especially like his take on the Babel phenomena)

    Use of network as attention backbone: local clusters, communities of interest, provide initial vetting and “peer review like” qualities. Observations that seen as significantly important w/in a community of interest, a “local” cluster, make their way to relatively visible sites in the cluster, where they become visible to “regional” clusters; continues to “superstar” sites that can be read by thousands of people.

    ** The result is that attention in the networked environment is more dependent on being interesting to an engaged group of people than it is in the mass-media environment, where moderate interest to large numbers of weakly engaged viewers is preferable.

    ** Because of the redundancy of clusters and links, and because clusters are based on mutual interest rather than capital investment, its harder to buy attention on the internet, and harder to use money to squelch opposing views.

    ** Saves networked environments from the Babel Objection (where everyone can speak, no one is heard) without reintroducing excessive power in any single party or small cluster, or without causing the resurgence in the role of money as the precondition to the ability to speak publicly

  5. Melanie’s reply is inspiring to me. Benkler’s Babel Objection makes me think of the structure of Panopticon & Synopticon. Panopticon is from a design of jail, which has an overall higher power structure inside, having a few watchmen observing the whole residents who are inside the Panopticon. And Synopticon, which is like the opposite of Panopticon, is a structure that every resident is a watchman, and they are all observing few people in the middle. I feel that in the past it was more like Panopticon. When most of us still access information through mass media, we were more like passively receiving information through a higher structure (like there’s a Big Brother), without too much power to choose what to read and share. We were like in our own rooms, listening to the voice from the middle. Now I feel that technology and the Internet sort of breaking the walls between each room, people started gathering together to share, talk, and challenge the structure. However, we are still watching the few people in the middle performing, though we can access to each other now, the whole Synopticon is still huge and most of us are still at the same horizontal place, it is hard to overview the whole structure and talk to all people there. Mostly we gather together and share information with people who are geographically close to us (I think the social ties on the Internet are also a geographical network), however, when every group of people try to talk, it became too noisy and it is hard to hear what other people who are outside of our geographical boundaries are talking (Here I like the saying from Melanie’s response: “where everyone can speak, no one is heard”). I feel that we are like nodes with links, we share and trade through those links, but maybe the issue for the future collaborative scenario is to build links between those Synopticons, or we could say, networks.

    // I also found this article online:

    I especially like the last question he brought up: One final thought I would like to consider concerns the third parallel expressed by Mathiesen: “panopticism and synopticism have developed in intimate interaction, even fusion, with each other.” While modern technologies have promoted a growing synoptic culture, does this also mean that the panoptic methods of surveillance will continue to become more widespread and sophisticated?

  6. Just to respond to the art part of how this sharing phenomenon influence modern art definition. I remember very clearly about a comment my teacher made to me when I was in a fine art class here in Parsons. She told me my final project is “not” art. That extreme feedback brought me back to the starting point of why we are making digital products instead of using traditional materials. I believe there definitely is an adjustment to make for all of us since the times are changing while we live in it. And this sharing trend which is brought by technology helps us to reach a place that we have never thought of 10 years ago. That means as mentioned by Stephanie and Joamir the ways we used to evaluate art pieces can no longer be such black and white, right or wrong. This actually makes the line between design and art more blurry as it already has been. It is good to see technology brings a new chapter to art history, but how we are consuming this like what Gustavo said and also execute it in reflection to our modern times will be then vital to the art world.

  7. I’m all for people having greater access to tools, which we have today to some extent. Not everyone has a computer or internet access though. I think we tend to take that for granted given our place in this new world. That said, tools are easier to use and less expensive in many cases.

    I’m not really sure technology has enabled universal audiences for anyones work. The digital networks we exist in still in many cases represent corporeal ones, meaning that our influence is still felt to the greatest extent in the groups which we live in. In relation to what Melanie said about Benkler and clusters, the tail of cultural production and resulting audiences may in fact be longer but that really only means that producers have to focus all the more intently upon a niche. Mass communication and technologies enable universal access but I feel like mostly what happens is they more easily allow us to plug in to people who also engage in whatever weird little thing we happen to like too. This is neither good nor bad.

  8. The instant sharing of information be it music, art and anything else has become embedded in the way our society works. Especially in New York, life is very fast paced, we demand more and more at faster rates and move from one thing to the other in no time. Since everything is so easy to access we put less value sometimes on a piece of art, only because we’ve seen similar things and maybe even better. But the thing that caught my attention was the idea that, yes, anyone can create “art” or “music” just by being discovered through social media. The way I discover new artists is usually through youtube, one link leads to the next and eventually you hit on a performance that is appealing enough that you start researching the artist. The platforms social media provides has several responsibilities from the user. It needs to give the user some kind of protection for their projects for example the prevention from being downloaded by anyone. For now, as youtube and Google+ have begun working in unison, youtube has become a very different experience for users who post. Comments are free to anyone which leaves much room for links that lead to viruses or porn. The lack of monitoring and selective posting is posing a problem. Top comments are just the ones that receive most attention which in many cases are the most scandalous and negative ones. Little changes such as these make users more vulnerable to the public as well as their projects.

  9. Well there are a lot of good points made in this documentary.
    Three of which I pointed out within the first ten minutes were:
    1. Some people are naturally talented.
    2. Some people just can’t “do school”
    3. Are we spending our money or wasting our time getting an education in things that everyone can do in their spare time or that are easily accessible nowadays?
    A “pro” of a shared culture is that it allows people to be creative when maybe they would be ignored otherwise. A quote from the documentary that supports this is
    “It’s possible for anyone to make a movie now.” This provides hope, it provides a sense of security for those who may not have been educated in that field otherwise but still want to exercise that new found talent.
    A “con” of shared culture is that it puts professional artists out of business. Then again, if art is about expressing yourself, and we are all free to do that, can you really be a “professional” at it? There’s no such thing as “true talent.” Just talent you’ve paid to acquire and get paid for or talent you choose to showcase for free.

    Another good point made was that “the artist comes after the technology.”
    Is technology considered art? Isn’t technology something that is designed and therefore if you’re a designer you’re considered an artist as well? They made a good point that the artist was not the one who invented paint, the artist is the one who takes this invention and then abuses it and manipulates it for it then to be considered art.

    I loved the idea that “ideas that are free spread faster.” Beautiful things can come out of things that are so easily accessible. It allows the artist to “let the whole world they know exist.” It’s this idea of making our mark on the world, leaving something created by us, that’s a piece of us, and sharing it that is so powerful.

  10. I do believe that technology changed the relationship between artist, designers and audience, and change the way of design. The boundary of different major of design are more and more vague. Now an architect can do fashion designer, and a fashion designer can do graphic design, a graphic designer can do interaction design.
    When technology such as laser cut, CNC, CAD, 3d print technology introduced to fashion area, the whole industry were influenced. Fashion designers involved in the technology more. Laser cut fabric is a special technology many years ago, it is quite normal in the fashion industry now. At present, a fashionable dress can be print out by using 3D printer. I believe, in someday, when 3D-printer is an easy access resources. People did not need go to store to buy a specific dress, just search on the Internet, download a model, and find a 3D-printer, print it out.

  11. I still remembered we talked about the boundary of art and design in D4TC class, and sort of the conclusion of that topic is that technology blurs the boundaries of various media and field. So I believe that the structure or the format people/designers creating projects has been changed depending on technology. My personal experience is that I have never been thought of combining graphics, coding or sound to create a project before I knew the technology of those. Then, the more I know about the technology the less I as one person can solve the design problem by myself. That’s my personal understanding of the appearance of some kinds of collaborations. Also in another way, technology itself is influencing people’s ways of thinking and the way people getting knowledges from, especially design thinking. For example, the development of the interface moves from graphical user interface to tangible user interface. And now it becomes radical atoms world. The way people think about the interface has been changed by the technology. Also the design problem has become more and more complicated. Therefore, people need to learn from each other and collaborate to fulfill the bigger and bigger goal in the design field.

  12. Knowledge has become so accessible. Access to it increases with every passing day. People are making a business out of teaching tools. Schools and especially grad schools in the field of art and design are starting to lose their importance. But is ‘design thinking’ or ‘innovative thinking’ available through technology, does innovation come from knowledge we gain from these tools and the way we think? Technology sure has changed the way we produce work, anybody can make a movie or music or an art piece, like mentioned in ‘everything is a remix’, but there still needs to be some originality in the way it is remixed, or the way your art work is produced. And it’s true, like Gus mentioned, that we need to spend more time on the creative part of the process rather than the technical, because technology is only going to improve and get more advanced and more accessible over time.

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