On the flight back to Sydney from having spent a great evening with CC Australia folks, it occurred to me that Jason Scott did me a grand favor with his churlish hostility yesterday:
…how’s it feel to be dead?…Respect for the dead…Where do I send the flowers? I miss you already.
and continues on his own blog “dead dead dead.”
In the post he was commenting on I explained how my family came to a financial crossroad: either hang on to all our “stuff,” or travel the world indefinitely. By choosing the latter, to Jason, I have shuffled off the mortal coil. I am “dead.” (Of course, I didn’t realize this at the time – had I known the choice to experience life to its fullest, amongst the world, would kill me, I probably would have chosen to hang on to my records and books a little longer. I mean, I liked Stockholm a lot but I wouldn’t have died for it.)
Still, the last four years at ccMixter has taught me something pretty spectacular about the act of gifting. Personally, I was in it because I thought musicians could benefit from an alternative to the music industry, because I having was fun, because it dove-tailed a lot my disparate careers and interests and many other reasons. What I was not prepared for was the connection between gifting, the act of giving music into the Commons, and the creative process itself. And the same awakening happens all the time with musicians participating in the project. Last week colab commented on the fact that, since moving to ccMixter from the Peter Gabriel remix site, several producers he thought he knew well, were producing completely unexpected pieces of music. The exact same musicians, simply by changing from an All Rights Reserved environment to ccM were now making more innovative, creative works.
I’m working on a long winded explanation of how I think this continues to happen on ccM but Lewis Hyde, a scholar who inspired Lessig and many others at CC and who’s work is foundational to Creative Commons, put it this way in the “The Gift” from 1979:
…the primary commerce of art is a gift exchange, that unless the work is the realization of the artist’s gift and unless we, the audience, can feel the gift it carries, there is no art.
When my family and I ran the finances it was obvious to me that we’ve been given such a gift through this opportunity, that after we cleared the amount we needed to travel, we would gift the rest back and we ended up giving away a lot of stuff — in the artistic spirit taught me by ccMixter. Through a crazy, lucky (stupidly so) set of circumstances, my life had philosophically merged with my art and career.
Too bad I’m dead and can’t enjoy it.
That Jason chooses to misinterpret my post and lump me in with others, who I don’t know or have contact with, is his own way of doing things. Hell, I don’t even know this Jason guy. I have no idea who he is. In my few contacts with him I have been nothing but civil and humble and very enthusiastically carried water for him and his documentary and endeavors. In response he’s been nothing but uncivil, unpleasant and insulting. Personally insulting — did I run over this guy’s cat or something?
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since that kind a narrow, pugilistic conversation style has re-emerged in the last 10 years. (Many of us are old enough to remember millions of “America, Love It or Leave It” bumper stickers as something other than a compassionate outreach to the counter-culture.) We live in a time where a satire of this bully-style insulting in the form of Stephen Colbert gets higher ratings than the explicit pleading for civil discourse by his lead-in, Jon Stewart.
One of the things I’m most proud of at ccM is that for about 50,000 forum posting, reviews and interactions between musicians, the discourse has been genuinely cool. I don’t think I’ve had to nuke 10 postings in four years due to ad hominem attacks. People get the gifting relationship they have between each other and insulting somebody as you present them with a gift is not socially accepted.
Jason’s original post was framed as a general argument against “cloud computing” which he later narrowed to people who thought the cloud would be there forever. The tone of the piece then narrows that down even further to people who are willing to be in an abusive relationship with him while he calls them names. In my line of work I can’t afford to narrow the field that much even if I had a Tourette’s tick that disallowed me to have a decent exchange of ideas with someone.
All this hatred, all this venom, all this hostile machismo because I dared to present a different point of view.
Jason: As far as I’m concerned, I’m willing to have a discussion about the merits of the cloud, about my feelings on the Franklin Street Statement, I’ll even take a shot at the existential meaning of being and having, as I understand it.
But talk to me without couching it insults because, since you really have no idea who I am, the insults can’t possibly apply to me and are only a reflection on you.