Saturday, September 26, 2009

Creative Commons, Crowdsourcing, and Animation through Collaboration

Most of the clips I took from the Intel Developer Forum in late September have been used for business blogs, but this panel I attended Sept. 23 was of more general interest, and raised some interesting questions regarding crowdsourcing and the antithesis to the so-called "wisdom of crowds," what Chris Weingarten of Rolling Stone called the "stupidity of crowdsourcing" at the recent 140 Character Conference.

Before filming excerpts from this panel, I asked Yair Landau, founder and president of the Mass Animation project that developed the short animated film, about Weingarten's observations. Landau said he was raised in a kibbutz, and was predisposed to believe in collaboration. Besides, he said, he did not want a single person claiming to have a superior opinion.

If you're not up to watching the clip, here's the backstory. Landau, formerly of Sony, decided he wanted to see what quality of animation he could garner from a collaborative project initiated worldwide through Facebook. He created Mass Animation, got together with ReelFX (Kyle Clark on the panel is COO), and Intel (John Cooney at the left end of the panel is Intel's online programs manager), and they launched an effort to collaboratively develop an animated short called "Live Music," which will be seen in theaters and online beginning Nov. 20. (In respect of their wishes, I am not including video clips of the draft, but am including a couple still shots below.)

As Landau mentioned, there was some general guidance from the Mass Animation crew on the story board, but animators could include new story elements. The story line and animation itself flows as well as anything I have seen from Pixar and DreamWorks. Panel moderator Jeremiah Owyang pointed out how much this is like journalism in the 21st century: Journalism sponsored by major media companies is on its death bed, so can collaborative efforts from Indymedia or blog collectives replace it? Landau made the very relevant point that there still needs to be a central source of coordination and funding that is strong enough to overcome the messiness of consensus-building over global dimensions. (And this is the missing link for journalism in the 21st century - who pays for the vetting and coordination function if all underwriters are dead?)

I'm a believer in collaborative creativity through social networking, but I also think Weingarten was on to something in his dismissal of crowdsourcing. Here's how both might be true: Landau is talking about collaboration among creators of content, which constitute an artistic elite of sorts to begin with. Weingarten was talking about the majority voting of observers and users of content (I hesitate to use the word "consumers," because too many people are using that word to replace the more critical word, "citizens"). If we listen to crowdsources of critiques, we find our musical choices come from the world of American Idol. More often than not, it's the eclectic and iconoclastic critic of art, literature, music, that finds the good stuff. I like to see artists themselves collaborate as they create. But when it comes to artistic criticism, I come down on the side of Weingarten: If most people like it, chances are, it sucks.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Hah, ain't that the truth. Very well summarized and argued, Loring. I buy your two points.

And I just started two family Facebook groups for discussions and decisions re our family cottage. We still haven't gotten to the step of deciding about consensus or not. Most of us siblings feel consensus is essential in a family deal like this. We're partly a business, but that's not the main thing. But even just in our little group of 30, it isn't easy to figure this stuff out. Getting into these bigger arenas, it's downright mind numbing.