Thursday, 9 July 2009

I need YOU!

This is SRS BSNS guys.

I'm sat on my sofa in beautiful Brighton, pondering the great and mystical behemoth that is the internet, and considering wandering down the road to buy some sort of savoury snack.

Savoury snacks are generally required at times like this, for morale purposes... Yes, that's right, I have a new project, and I'm struggling somewhat, so I shall share with you my task.

"Through the internet we now have access to more and more. Peer to Peer software allows users to 'share' music, fonts, films and other products without the need to pay, and sites like Flickr will grant you access to the cherished memories of people from all around the world.
How will this affect the creative industry, and in what was will this change designed communication?"

Now, I think this is a really interesting project, but I'm honestly not sure quite where to start. I have an enormous amount of affection for the internet. When I was around 12 or 13, I discovered the joy of MSN messenger. My mind was BLOWN. I'm like... typing... and it's like... appearing on the other person's screen like... now! OMG LOL! (I'm still pretty easily impressed by things like this to tell the truth.)

The was the beginning of my somewhat obsessive relationship with the internet... I remember when we still had dial-up and I'd have to wait till 6 to go online, and disconnect every time someone wanted to make a call... *wince*

I sort of used the internet as my connection with the outside world... being an only child and not living within walking distance of anyone else, I'd chat on MSN instead, or Myspace (which I now look upon with disdain :D)... I joined Deviantart back in February 2005, and that's been one of the few websites that I've consistently visited ever since. Of course now, Facebook is the big thing, to be honest, I think it's sort of transcended being a mere 'website', and turned into something bigger... in the same way that Google has. You're not going to look something up any more, you're going to 'google' it. You're not going to send someone an online social networking site message, you're going to 'Facebook' them. Twitter is heading that way too, although it still hasn't gained widespread acceptance.

But yes, to the subject of the project... the whole 'sharing' culture of the internet. In around 2005 I discovered WinMX, which weirdly, no one else seems to remember. It was a crude P2P freeware software, for sharing mainly music and video files. It was agonizingly slow (although that may have been something to do with our agonizingly slow connection), confusing to use, and you often ended up with files that were either unlistenably low quality, or simply blank... but I had huge affection for it, and would spend hours trawling it for otherwise unobtainable rarities. I never downloaded albums, only individual tracks and B-sides, and this was how I justified it to myself, although I did always feel a lot of guilt about using it.
In September 2005 it was shut down, and my illegal downloading career was ended. I never downloaded any other P2P software, and instead relied on my friends to share their music with me directly.
I still don't quite understand the concept of 'torrents', although recently have worked out how to use them. I like the visual idea of 'torrents' though, and might like to do some work in this area. I'm also interested in websites like LastFM, Songza, Mixturtle, Pandora and Spotify, all of which I am/have used.

But music isn't my only area of interest, I'm also, of course, interested in imagery. And it's interesting, because music/movies are what we mainly hear lawsuits/controversy about, but image theft is a huge issue... Watermarks and GIF overlays can only go so far in preventing this, and I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts about image theft and it's implications.
But it's not just theft... simply the huge amount of images available online provides endless inspiration and research potential, and I think this is really fascinating too. We have access to a wealth of imagery like never before, and my mind is continually blown by the amount of things I see that - without the internet - I'd never have had access to.

When I went to the Deviantart meet in london, I was lucky enough to meet with $spyed, and was really interested to hear him talk about the Deviantart homepage, and how - to many an idle visitor - it is unappealing, confusing, and often filled with art they don't even like - which put them off. He says they are very aware of this, and gave several reasons for it staying this way. For me, part of the joy of Deviantart is that good (in my opinion) art isn't always immediately accessible. One of the exciting things is finding and making contacts, browsing their favs to find more artists you love, that strange and unusual navigation... rarely, if ever do I use the 'browse' function, it's all about that tripping and skipping through other people's art and collections and finding new things. and when you do stumble across a gem, that visual joy of finding something special.

Flickr is interesting to me, because it's a lot easier to find things I like there, it's a lot cleaner, and a lot more respected in the design world (at least amongst the circles I move in) and yet I can't feel nearly as much affection towards it as I do towards Deviantart. Somehow there's more of a mix here, there are some really established artists here, people making a successful living from what they do, then there are people who are doing it simply as a hobby... or setting out on what they hope will be a career in the creative industry (I fall into that latter category). $spyed was really proud to introduce us all to `zemotion, and it was really interesting to hear her story... she joined Deviantart many years ago, and for a long time lay low and watched how the community worked, found out what she liked and how to do it... and then went out and learnt to do it. She gets much of her work through Deviantart, and is now such a successful world class photographer that she was able to attend the Tokyo, Paris and London devmeets - coincidentally as she was working there anyway. That's the life, eh?
I haven't even started to discuss blogs, stumbleupon/digg etc and other ways of finding amazing things on the internet, but I think I've put enough thoughts here for now.

But yes, this has turned into a long ramble, and is possibly confusing, but what I really want is your opinions on that question - 'How will this [internet culture of sharing] affect the creative industry, and in what way will this change designed communication?'

Thoughts, feelings, personal experiences all welcome, and if you're interested in this project, please share this journal with other people who might like to have an input.


Agnieszkas Shoes said...

Emma, I'm very interested in helping in any way I can. Do you want to send me an e-mail with some details. Otherwise I'm likely to send you a thesis rather than anything useful. And do put an ad up on the wall of the Free-e-day group on Facebook - I'm sure several of the artists there would love to help. We will be spreading the programme for the festival using bookbuzzr, a great little pdf-embedding tool


federay said...

...actually I am no position to contribute bc my questions are exactly the same... so I am following this conversation. I am a writer and so over print. I think. Or am i?
I like your project/call-out and I'll also be following your ... can I say journey? No I'll think of a different word.
Back soon for sure.