Jeremy Zilar is the Content Strategist and Blog Specialist at The New York Times where he has overseen the launch of over 200+ blogs and real-time news publishing.
As I sat down to work on the WordPress theme that I hope to release soon, I came across a relevant comment that I made on an old Rhizome thread back in February ’06 in response to the question, …[Should Artists be] required to expose their code in order to receive financial support? The question was originally posted by new-media artist Jason Van Anden. I thought my comment was a nice to dig back up and re-post since it makes relevant points about the nature of creation, and collaborative value.
I think that once you liberate the code, you put yourself in a place
where you are forced to become more creative and move beyond the
There are 2 ways to think about this: you can hold on to your idea, and
it will only grow out of your own experiences with it. Or you can let it
go, and be inspired by how other are using your creation.
At the root, it comes down to respecting the idea. If it is not ready to
be shared, then it should not be shared. Once it is ready, I think you
have to let it go, and enjoy it’s effects on the world around you. This
is true for any medium. It is about having respect for your idea. I
agree, it is a very hard switch to make, especially with code, because
it feels like people can copy what you have done much more easily than a
painting. You can always get a Creative Commons License on it that
specifies that the person interested in using part of, or all of your
code, contact you first – but that it is open to use.
The greatest thing about technology is that it fosters collaboration of
ideas…. and to think that collaboration is not part of your process,
then you had better not look at the source code of a nice site/piece
ever again, or for that matter, stop thinking about process altogether.
Code is about copying & pasting – it is remixing what the person before
you has done with what you have done. This is also true across all mediums.
How well have you taken the ideas of the past, remixed them, and made
them new again?
I think it is also important to look at why your piece is successful.
Does your piece rely on you knowing something about programming to fully
enjoy the piece? If your piece relies on the fact that you made some
genius little script to ‘wow’ the viewer, then that leads me to think
that your code could be considered part of the art.
these are just a few ideas…
On one hand, the whole world has changed on the internet since February, 2006. Then again, all of the same principles still apply. This still leaves open the question, what constitutes as Art from here forward?
Here is the original Rhizome thread.