Friday, June 24, 2011

Artistic Collaboration in F/LOSS

 In my first blog for OSMP, I want to explore collaboration within the F/LOSS* culture specifically for music and art.
"what's the point of being F/LOSS if you're not collaborative" - ginger coons, May 11, 2011, Libre Graphics Meetings, Montreal
To me, it seems that artistic collaboration is anemic within the F/LOSS culture.

That's a bold statement for someone without vast historical or contemporary background in open source proejcts.  Furthermore, I base this solely on my own experiences within a very, very specific niche within the F/LOSS ecosphere.

I have tried unsuccessfully (mostly) to cultivate a collaboration with several people in order to create music and art and have found the result very disappointing with both the lack of involvement and the results.  This was especially frustrating and bewildering given that GNU/Linux is a collaborative effort and those involved usually follow in kind (see Creative Commons).

I felt very strongly that if the same people were living in the same neighborhood, nothing would have kept them from getting together to make and/or play music.

Then why was this failing?

I am going to suggest two reasons; culture and tools.

I'm not sure that a vibrant, healthy culture actually exists for art and music collaboration yet.  The tools (not the ones I mentioned above) we use to create our art are still maturing.  Perhaps the culture hasn't had time to properly coalesce.  Perhaps given time, one will exist.  Perhaps it will be dynamic, vibrant, robust, and productive.  Perhaps.

But perhaps not without the right tools.  Tools for collaboration.

I imagine that when some of the giants (upon whose shoulders we stand) were developing the software we love, they created and used tools to help them collaborate with development.  Where are our tools for artistic collaboration?  Do we need to adapt some, create others?

Can we use git for music and artwork?  Would a custom GUI help with this?  Has anyone thought about using Gobby for collaborating on lyrics?  or a wiki? Is there a good way to publish the collaborative works?

Would it be possible to record an idea in Ardour, use another application to push the Ardour files to a git repository, then email your friend a link to it?  Would it then be possible for your friend to use the same application to download the Ardour files from git and replace any copy you had on your machine?  The process reversed so you can share your changes back to your friend?

What if several people collaborated on lyrics in Gobby?  And then used a wiki to share a goal or subject of the song along with links to the git/Gobby and also note a history of what changes have made?

Can we do this?

Maybe we should see if we can.  Collaboratively.

* Yes, I've been converted.  I want to include the term libre because I feel it more adequately describes our software.


Dinesh said...

Interesting Read ... :)
Also, i feel that we are in more need of collaboration on content creation entities than content itself.....
I mean for sharing pictures and sharing music....... there are lots of Online services alredy..... wouldn't it be much more cooler if We suddenly needed some world sounds samples or piano sound fonts or say krita brushes(Okay this oness already in the works :P) ...... and simply fire up the Get Hot New Stuff and download it?? and I m pretty sure this is easily do-able .....
I hope this soon becomes a reality :)

Steve B - Guitarman4 said...

I'm in agreement with Dinesh. The latest KDE and Android really brought the web service to the desktop and phone. Making services available to facilitate collaboration and tying them into right clicks and directly into the apps we use is going to help. But I think something else comes to play here. Scott - I was thinking what may have also been lacking is the meetup aspect. Like what happens in a rehearsal room. The interaction and banter - if there was a weekly meetup in mumble for instance to playback the project and riff on ideas and develop a plan. I think commitment and time are also points of failure that tools may or may not help with because ultimately thats a human decision.

PipeMan said...

The biggest barrier for collaboration on any art type project as I see it are:
1. Having a clear vision.
2. Having everyone you are working with have the same tools and the same skills, or at least compatible tools and compatible skills.
3. Sharing the files. There still lacks an easy way to share large files. Dropbox work well but the storage is too limiting for a single project. Who wants to fill their entire Dropbox account for ONE project.

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