I just finished the very good book “The Chaos Scenario” by Bob Garfield. Read it.
One of the topics covered is the idea of “Crowdsourcing“. This apparently new concept takes the work once done by a single person or company, and invites contributions from a larger community or even the world-at-large. It has become a very important tool for journalists, including the recent earthquake in Haiti and the disputed elections in Iran. It has also become popular with artists and designers who seek contributions and input from fans, customers, and other like-minded people.
Crowdsourcing’s rise to fame is in large part thanks to social networking, which has made it feasible to cast a wide net across a community to seek input.
But don’t be fooled. Crowdsourcing isn’t a new idea. Not if you are Jamaican.
Crowdsourcing is one of the foundations of modern reggae and dancehall music, and has been for many years. They don’t call it that, of course. They call it “riddim”.
Riddims are instrumental songs. Musicians and producers create riddims, and then invite numerous artists to write lyrics and melodies to fit the riddim. Often enough different songs are recorded using the same riddim to release entire albums, as VP Records has done for a decade with their “Riddim Driven” series.
Same concept as crowdsourcing. I create something, and ask my community to improve upon it, alter it, and own it. And eventually, thanks entirely to our collaborative efforts, we all profit from it.
Kinda cool to think that Jamaica, an developing nation plunked in the ocean far from Silicon Valley, was on to crowdsourcing long before the first high speed internet connection ever reached the Caribbean. They’ve been recording riddims since the 80′s!
Sometimes the future is clearly visible, in the rear-view mirror.
Speaking of Jamaica, I’ll probably not be posting until after February 6. I’m headed to Negril for 10 days of relaxing, listening only to the waves and the island riddims.