I’m going to consolidate some of the open-source materials on http://www.openculture.com/category/music into my own site at http://OurMus.Net. The range of music at Open Culture is narrow (a lot of punk and blues, for example), but at least this way I can “nerd-source” some of the things that are already out there on YouTube and elsewhere. I’m going to do the same thing with music-related blogs.
This kind of collaborative and open-source work is at the heart of Web 2.0, as explained by Tapscott and Williams in their 2006 book Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. They point out that: “If a small, underperforming company in one of the world’s oldest industries [mining] can achieve greatness by opening its doors to external input and innovation, what would happen if more organizations followed the same strategy? Couldn’t just about any social or economic challenge be solved with a critical mass of self-organized contributors seeking an answer to the problem?” (2008 edition, pp. 268-69). They could easily be talking about the pseudo-scientific peer reviews, closed loops, sub-disciplinary silos, and hidden-away trailer groves of academia, and music academia is easily one of its worst culprits.
As the authors of Wikinomics also suggest, new, upstart, start-up, “non-legacy” organizations “can experiment for very little cost and at very little risk on the Web, and in ways that incumbents can’t.” (p. 301). However, they are point out that: “Self-organized projects … marshal the efforts of thousands of dispersed individuals, sometimes in miraculous ways. Loose, voluntary communities of producers can self-organize to do just about anything: design goods or services, create knowledge, assemble physical things, or simply produce dynamic, shared experiences. But don’t overlook the fact that these communities operate according to well-defined norms and have internal structures and processes to guide the group’s activities” (pp. 295-96).
In their followup book, Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World (2010), Tapscott and Williams indicate that: “Collaborative communities not only transcend the boundaries of time and space, they can reach across the usual disciplinary and organizational silos that inhibit cooperation, learning, and progress” (p. 19). Also, in their chapter on “Rethinking the University,” they paraphrase Brown and Adler’s 2008 EDUCAUSE Review article by saying that: “[O]ur understanding of content is socially constructed through conversations about that content and through grounded interactions, especially with others, around problems or actions” (p. 142).
In Music History & Culture, it’s time to move on to something that should actually prove to be of great benefit to millions of people: a free, online, open, shared, and collaborative community that generates “public musicology” simply by being all of those things.