Collaborative Community

In The Social Media Reader’s section on collaboration, the authors introduce a YouTube sensation known as Kutiman. Taking user uploaded videos of amateur musicians playing stand-alone works, Kutiman mashes the videos together into an entirely different composition. He calls these creations “Thru-you.” You can find examples of this here and here. In a vlog Kutiman posted about how he puts everything together he thanks “all the people and artists that took part in the project.” This statement suggests that each of the artists played an active roll in putting the videos together. The reading, however, brings into question whether or not the contributions made by the people in the videos form a collaboration. The authors suggest that intent is essential in determining whether or not something is a collaborative work. When I was reading the comments on the videos, I began to realize that most of the people featured playing music had no idea they were even in them. Clearly, when they were making their individual videos, they did not intend for them to end up under the Thru-you banner. Kutiman’s videos are extremely well done and had me captivated for several more minutes than they should have, but it became evident that I had to take my search for true collaboration elsewhere.

Since being in the Web 2.0 class, I’d been hearing a lot about the Joseph Gordon-Levitt sponsored, so I decided to give it a look. Sure enough, the first thing on the front page of the site is a banner that says, “Come collaborate with us.” At the bottom of the page there are instructions for how to use the resources available on the site. Users are encouraged to upload any original work, whether it be video, audio, images or text. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a finished or fully realized project to be published on the site. Once a work is posted, the author can ask other hitRECord members to add to it. People will post scripts and request that other users film/produce/score/animate/add foley/special effects/etc. to what they have already done in order to take the project to a new level. In a sense, the site is a hub for creators who would otherwise not know each other to collaborate and make something that they wouldn’t be able to do on their own. Here’s an example.

The way hitRECord is set up allows for the user to clearly express his or her intent for their work to be the product of collaboration. It provides an online community whose sole purpose is to collaborate with each other. This expressed intent is what determines whether or not collaboration exists in a product. In Kutiman’s case, the videos he produces, while utilizing a multitude of YouTube users misses the boat because the users did not intend for their videos to be used in that way.

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