providing uncopyable experiences

Danger Mouse is a musician perhaps most know for his The Grey Album which is a mashup of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and the Beatles’ The White Album. The album is often used as an example of the tension between remix culture and restrictive copyright law and the DMCA.

Danger Mouse appears to be exploring this tension again by selling fans a blank CD-R on which to burn a peer-to-peer downloaded copy of his new collaboration called Dark Night of Soul. According to the Guardian’s article Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse unveil new album – a blank CD-R!,” an undisclosed legal dispute with EMI prevents them from releasing it through traditional channels. This surely is evidence that the world of content, the web and distribution is in a Wild West phase where what’s right, wrong, and the law are all getting sorted out.

I like that Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse are adding value to their music. The official CD-Rs come as part of packages consisting of a poster, or a accompanying book of photographs by David Lynch. Music is copyable. Other things aren’t as easily.

Similarly, in support of his new album, former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker recently put on a five day event in a Parisian art gallery. He had jam sessions, played music for children and yoga classes, etc. His album? Copyable. The experience of that event? Not so much.

This is interesting to me, of course, because I think that libraries would benefit from concentrating as much or more on providing uncopyable experiences as on the logistics of shuffling around copyable content.

5 thoughts on “providing uncopyable experiences”

  1. I don’t know, Aaron. “Providing uncopyable experiences” is the scarcity model upon which museums operate. They are a major justification for paid admission, and they make the visitor experience unique. However, that uniqueness also makes the museum experience precious and special in a way that tends to diminish frequent repeat use. That’s where libraries have museums beat – they feel like home (somewhat) and we feel that we can hang out there day after day. I think libraries need to focus on creating spaces that are welcoming, comfortable, and specifically valuable as a “not home” hang out spaces. This may involve some uncopyable experiences. But don’t get too precious or fancy, or people will start evaluating the library as an entertainment option (which competes with movies, museums, etc.) instead of as an extension of home into public space.

  2. Nina, I agree with you (and I still agree with me too). I don’t think that these experiences are the only thing that libraries should be concentrating on but think it would be more productive to concentrate on these things than book mausoleum duties.

    Visiting the library day after day, as you mention, is something I had in mind when thinking about these experiences. At a cafe I frequent there are some customers that visit about the same amount as me. I see some of them once a week or so. On occasion we end up talking about the work we’re doing, about weekend plans, and so forth. These naturally occurring conversations are great, but things got really interesting when I saw one of the baristas connect two people one day. “You know, so and so had a question about that. You should talk to her.”

    I took it as evidence that a setting like that + someone really good at connecting people/information (librarians) + planned events + a little content could = something really special.

    This can’t be too dissimilar to what you have in mind for a museum/bar combo, right?

  3. OK, everybody’s right! Very similar to what I’m thinking for the bar. If the interactions with people/content platforms linking is the “uncopyable” part, I’m into it. Of course, I think every library and museum should copy it in their own unique way for their audience/community once we get it working…

  4. Nina – “Ok, everybody’s right in the library.” I like it.

    WDFPL is working on copying a few “uncopyable” experiences. Regardless of whether the “uncopyable” experiences are “copyable”, securing a liquor license remains problematic

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