Art Fag City at The L Magazine: You’re Over-sharing

by Paddy Johnson on October 28, 2010 · 1 comment The L Magazine

The free exchange of media increasingly comes at the expense of the viewer’s experience. This week at The L Magazine I talk about sharing.

I sometimes wonder why we care so much about sharing. Not a day goes by that I don’t read something about how social media and viral videos are transforming the way we engage with information, all of which seems driven by our love of chatting about news and entertainment. Traditionally, the reasons for sharing have been economic: either you share an object because it’s too expensive to acquire on your own, or because it’s so plentiful that it’s simpler to split ownership. (House shares are a good example of the former, and sugar the latter.)

To answer the question of why we share, I started keeping a mental list of the different kinds of exchanges that occur. The first was obvious: digital file sharing has increased the quantity of media that we distribute. The exchange of these materials prompts conversation, but it’s also about building identity, about dressing a window onto the user’s ideology.

To read the full piece click here.

{ 1 comment }

Ben Sisto November 2, 2010 at 9:10 pm

First, great topic! My 2 cents:

To redistribute goods and resources freely sends a message to potential mates: you both have plenty and are willing to share the bounty. This increasing the likelihood that your kin will be well provided for. Altruism and feeling good about sharing are adaptations that directly assist the extension of an active germ-line in socially organized groups. As we are both competitive and cooperative, one could also make arguments in favor of greed and hording to some degree (cue “Wall Street” film clip). The long short though is that far from “warm and fuzzy”; sharing is directly related to who we are as a species.

Everyone is creative – whether they self-define as an artist or not. Creativity is used to navigate the world around and during these times of war, climate change, public racism and sexism and so on, the boom of visible creativity (shared at no-cost or extremely low-cost) is reflective of the common quest for solutions that benefit the group as a whole – and fast. While the market has it’s benefits, perhaps it is time the pendulum swings back slightly towards art being produced and shared as a gift. An informed, literate public is a prerequisite for democracy to function, and whenever we put a price on art it limits the work’s ability (to some degree) to transmit ideas across class divides. I’m not saying don’t sell your work; just give it away for free at the same time when possible.

“Still, we don’t share our personal collections of media very much, for related reasons —it’s a DJ faux pas to ask to borrow from another’s repertoire, just as it is among graphic designers to ask for a colleague’s fonts”. This is the old way of doing things, and it’s Zzzz-town compared Free Culture.

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