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Empowering creativity: a hit record(ing) from Dave Winer

May 13th, 2005 · 9 Comments


Dave Winer is a musician. Sure, he sings. But I’m using the term musician because it’s the best way I can find to describe how his words resonate and inspire. Like any musician – or any blogger or creative human being – he has his hit singles and his B-sides. This mp3 he made for the Pisa conference today is a rocker. It’s an instant classic. It’s a tune I’d be happy to play over and over until the ears ring. It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it. As all great hits do, it ends with the best part of the song, something to hum long after the music has ended. Here are some quotes I took with pencil and pad while listening (please correct me if I am wrong).

…all aspects of what we do are being driven away from centralization…[snip] everybody’s equally empowered to be creative…[snip]…Maybe we’re going back to the way things were before they were centralized. [snip] We all had to provide our own entertainment….[snip]…and didn’t we lose something when we all stopped being creative and we all started thinking you had to be somebody special, somebody extremely talented, or extremely beautiful in order to have the joy of being creative. And yeah, I think we did lose something. And I think we desperately need to get back to being creative because our world has problems that can only be solved by creativity and they need to be solved by all of us.

Dave’s passion to empower everyone to be creative, reminded me of the dialogue Doc and I had last week (Doc’s piece for Linuxjournal, my response, then Doc) and other conversations that came from his piece on the flat world. Belief in the bell curve logically leads to the conclusion that only the elite may create. Forget it, say the statistics: you’ll never make it. You’re not special enough. Just follow the factory, march with the masses, fit in with conformity. However, as Doc has mentioned in previous posts, blogging allows us to be ourselves. What I love about blogging is that it isn’t school. Instead it’s a great way to discover how the long, flat tail features plenty of original and brilliant individuals. Forget the bell curve and the mistaken conclusion that we have to be super-special to succeed, or even try. As Doc has said, we are all special: Let me add a term so syrupy I can’t believe I’m writing it: we are all also special. Meaning: all of us are valuable. All of us have something to contribute. Somewhere, somehow. Based on this podcast, I think Dave agrees. Imagine everyone empowered to create and share with each other: what potential!

This is the era of ordinary art, to quote Evelyn Rodriguez. This era of ordinary art is extraordinary, and exciting, as Dave described it. I’m grateful and I can’t wait to see what will come next… or at least what song Dave will sing on his next release ;-).

Tags: journal

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Euan // May 13, 2005 at 7:51 am

    Thanks for transcribing it Julie – great quote!

  • 2 bart daniels // May 13, 2005 at 9:13 am

    winer a singer? you must be kidding. that podcast he did was the most self-indulgent piece of crap imaginable. this is why so many people think podcasting is a joke.

  • 3 Jeff Powell // May 13, 2005 at 10:30 am

    Julie —

    Nice work on this post. I also enjoyed this particular podcast and take heed in the (duplicate) comments posted by bart daniels. He’s just expressing his opinion and as Dave says, “Come as you are, we’re just folks here” — Perhaps it was self-indulgent Bart, however given the context it was presented in (he was asked to present at the conference which required covering his own background) which didn’t come across any more self-indulgent than most other blogs. Dave has done more to influence the direction of the web than most of us could ever conceive of doing in our lifetimes. You didn’t care for it? That’s cool – go find something else that you enjoy – or, better yet – why not do someting yourself. You make a comment about ‘so many people think podcasting is a joke’ — by like all blanket statements, it’s purely subjective. For every person I’ve heard saying such things, I’ve heard 5 far people who feel the exact opposite – by hey, that’s life.

  • 4 David Wilkinson // May 13, 2005 at 10:45 am

    Hi Julie,

    Nice post. I like the part about humming long after the music has ended. My kids go to a Waldorf School, and from day one they are encouraged to disconnect from mass media and to develop their own creative talents. Amazing creativity and simple beauty has resulted from this process in young people. This is precisely why I started blogging. To express myself. I can’t wait to see what a truly free creative society will produce. Exciting times we are living in, indeed…

  • 5 Euan // May 13, 2005 at 10:49 am

    The biggest thing that many podcasts lack IMHO is editing. Pros benefit from judicious pruning so why shouldn’t amateurs?

    It’ll come though – people will learn fast what works and what doesn’t – it’s the web isn’t it!?

  • 6 kosso // May 13, 2005 at 1:37 pm

    I dont think there’s the need for editing. possibly an easy way to ‘bookmark’ tracks and annotate ‘events’ in the timelines of whatever media we create? media event tagging systems (go! METS!) Then people can cut the wheat form the chaff (or least what THEY think is wheat and chaff) – not cut it out for everyone. 😉

  • 7 Dave Winer // May 13, 2005 at 4:02 pm

    A continuation of the thread started in the Pisa podcast. Only 18 minutes.


  • 8 Euan // May 14, 2005 at 11:25 am

    OK Kosso – maybe not so much editing as focus – a lot of podcasts I have heard are rambling and many self indulgent. Don’t get me wrong – I am all for chewing the cud and taking the time to have lots of colour round conversations but too much can make audio unlistenable. At least with text you can skp ahead and skim.

  • 9 Jeremy Bowers // Aug 19, 2005 at 11:52 am

    The bell curve is still real enough, but on average, any given person will be well above average in at least one way. Part of the joys of decentralization is being able to “get somewhere” with that formerly-niche talent.

    As a practical matter, that means everyone should experiment with a lot of things. Who knows what you might be really good at, or really enjoy? (Usually the two are connected.)

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