Music to Our E-ears

Often when we look to the crowd to solve our problems, all we get is a bunch of hubbub. Noise without a filter. One might even compare it to, I don’t know, a symphony without a conductor.

That’s why it is so vital for a solid Philanthrosourcing experiment (or, anything to do with the web and its general population) to keep a strong editorial voice. The crowd is great as thinkers, as dreamers, and sometimes even as actors, but often falls short when it comes to judging which of a slew of ideas is actually the best. When I’ve written about this concern before, it’s been to champion the idea that there is still a place for a strong news voice, a trusted filter that you rely on in an old-school media way to make sense of the world and its goings-on.

Well, here’s another example: YouTube is launching an orchestra. Check out the video below to get a sense of the crowd being sourced and the anticipated results.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that I would be able to judge which of the thousands of YouTube videos are worthy of a trip to Carnegie Hall. Furthermore, if it was me judging, or even if it was something put to a vote of the YouTube population, I’ll bet the results would tend more toward cacophony than symphony. All this adds up to is a pretty cool project that simply wouldn’t work without the support and knowledge of conductor Tan Dun.

My larger point, beyond wanting to share a particularly impressive example of Philanthrosourcing in a new field, is to point out how sourcing the crowd does and does not resemble open competition. Clearly, the YouTube orchestra looks to discover individual talent, but it also looks to create a new sort of art and reach a new audience. Only the weight of the established musician and the stakes of Carnegie Hall can make this project appealing to most aspiring musicians, but the eventual result of an internet-generated symphony will bring Tan Dun’s music to an entire generation of YouTubers who would otherwise never hear a note.

Alan Smith

Posted at 1:00 AM, Dec 16, 2008 in Arts and Culture | Philanthropic Strategy | Streaming Media | Technology | Permalink | Comment