12 March 2014

Critical Mass (or, A Lesson In Control)

I was poking around Theology of Games recently (which is a great blog/podcast, by the way) and was struck by a thought: There are too many games. Why do people keep making games? There are too many games.

This, naturally, spun into: There is too much art. There is too much music. Wait. Can there be too much music? There isn't too much music.

The same can be said of film and books and other media. Is there too much? Can there be too much? There's already too much recorded music out there for one person to listen to; too many books a person can read; too many shows and movies to watch. And yet we all keep making these things. Is there a critical mass, a tipping point at which the sheer volume of recorded media implodes on itself and it all goes away?

I suppose the bigger question is, what does it mean when so many people make stuff and the number of people making stuff grows exponentially and the stuff that was made before is available for (seemingly) ever in digital form? At a certain point I have to believe that a sense of kismet must arise; I come into contact with the art that I do for some reason(s). Perhaps the surge of media and information and the protocols of availability are all going to result in a kind of medieval honing of the creative community. We've already begun to see this in places like Brooklyn and Austin and Portland.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire, when there was no longer any centralized authority, the power vacuum was filled by local rulers. Thus the feudal system of communal protection arose -- which was way more fair than you may believe it to be. The same thing happened at various points of East Asian history as well; when the structure fails, it falls to the local community to take care of its own. I should be interested to see if the volume of art and music pushes more of us to participation in local art.

But as long as there is Internet, the local community remains disjointed. There are always those who choose to connect online, rather than locally. Lord knows I do that with lots of things. So even if there does come a point at which local art and media becomes the norm, there is always the looming specter of Online to connect us outwards; hopefully, as we've seen in the Middle East and elsewhere, social networks can serve local communities well as a tool for organization and collaboration. Really, the possibilities are endless and the point, in the end, is just to make stuff. The best art is often made by the artist for herself; it's a service to the soul. Whether your neighbor sees it -- your next-door neighbor or your neighbor in Taipei -- is gravy.

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