Q and A with Jon Ippolito and John Bell on open source art

Arts Australia

The Internet both attracts and repels art institutions. Curators wonder who could possibly ensure quality control in a world where 50,000 videos are added to YouTube each day. Fortunately, artists themselves were crowdsourcing long before the Internet: composer John Cage laid out the principles fourteen years before Richard Stallman founded the Gnu project and twenty-nine years before the term "open source" was coined. In addition to collaborating on their own creative projects, artists have helped to build the very recognition networks necessary to find the Leonardos among the LOLcats. This month saw the public release of two social networks, The Pool and ThoughtMesh, designed to help collaborators and critics find and evaluate each other. Unlike existing publishing systems such as blogs and wikis, these networks aim to give ordinary users a "big picture" as well, and include graphical and lexical tools that can help answer such questions as how networked creativity is enhanced or hurt by licensing choices, the number of contributors, and project lifespan.

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