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Making free media

posted Mar 09, 2012 17:47:10 by debdrey1@gmail.com
I've been using an educational app on my phone to help brush up on my Chinese. The app is called MindSnacks and its basically a set of six arcade games that test your reading, pronunciation and memory. The best and simplest of these games is called Photobug. It's a rip-off of Rosetta Stone for sure, but all the pictures are open-sourced from Flickr. They're all high-quality and accurate representations of even complex terms like "enjoy" or "downtown." The app uses about 2500 of these at no cost to development. This is exactly what I love to see.
The same thing is happening for music on sites like SoundCloud, where anyone can download and use any tune that suits their fancy. Hobbyists are getting their voices heard, but only on the initiative of the businesses that are taking advantage of free material.
We're hoping to take this whole trend one step further. By producing our own content we're doing nothing new. But by developing that into a completed and professional-grade product we might be. The question is: can this be more than a hobby? Frankly, I'm not worried either way. I compare our effort to the myriad of free content-based sites online put up by people just like us that have something interesting to share. If enough people like the free stuff they pitch in and support the creators. I often wonder at the tipping points here, both on the side of the creator; how long do you continue to slave over a product without any compensation, and the supporters; when do you feel guilty enough at consuming another's unpaid work enough to give money?
In any case the proof is in the pudding. All of these free content sites are portfolios, more or less; applications for full-time dream jobs. And that's great. That's how the internet works and that's how it should. It's as tough a critic as one could hope for. Only the best of the best get past this stage of free content. Those that do make it into the world of profitable art deserve to leave whatever desk job they hold down during the day and devote themselves full time to their genius. We're taking a leap of faith with our own foray into the world of creativity by coming out with a bonafide product right out of the gate--no wasting time with months of snarky cartoons or observations about Brooklyn street corners here! The idea is that, if we can make something worth reading why not have it be read?
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