Imagine a world where...
Picasso checked his Klout score daily
The Rolling Stones were signed because of their YouTube views
Hemingway got a book deal because people "liked" his short stories.
We don't know if the increasing overlap between art and web analytics is making culture better or worse. Either way, we wish more people were talking about it. We first started thinking about this dilemma in the context of fashion week after being exposed to the MADE app, created by Milk. This new "must have" fashion app makes it possible for people to download the latest trends/looks while sitting courtside at the runway and then email/share/like them. Apparently this is a great utility for fashion editors, who previously had to partake in A to Z shenanigans involving all types of outdated methods (email, phone, picture sharing) to get a hold of their favorite designs.
An unanticipated output of the app is all the data it's capturing when fashionistas/editors/onlookers start interacting with the designs the minute they hit the runways. It's a whole new world where suddenly people see the outfit on the catwalk and BAM, designers get instant feedback. As Mazdack Rassi ,the creative director from Milk, noted at a panel, the response of designers to the data has been varied. While some have been anxious to see it, other have specifically asked him not to share. Mr Rassi didn't seem to have a particular position on the designers response or the use of the data. We were hoping he was going to hit us with some sweet words of cultural guidance. That didn't happen and we were left feeling a little like our Dad just told us to set our own curfew.
Never ones to not try something, Clark and Sarah decided to take that app for a test drive. After attempting to download it numerous times, finally succeeding, then being trapped in a closet turned runway, we still weren't convinced. The app is very neat and probably pretty useful, but we were still wondering where the responsibility lies with all this data it's collecting. Let's be clear, we aren't suggesting that the app creators are completely accountable for how it's used. We just hope that someone is driving this bus, not just putting a brick on the gas pedal and hoping we don't hit anything.
Here's our thinking. As we rapidly approach a point where we can collect data on pretty much anything, it's important that we are thoughtful about how it's going to be used and who it's going to be used by. It's not that it can't be freely available, but if it is, we should probably have a conversation about the affect it could or is having. Not that anyone asked us, but we'd like to throw that into the panel suggestion box for next year. What happens when you integrate consumer preferences and large scale feedback into the creation of art and culture? What do we gain and what do we lose?