Sunday, February 05, 2012

Remixes, Attribution, Creative Alchemies: The Long Tail in Acts of Kindness (part 2)

Continued from Part 1:

I get a kick out of the creative process.

I've come to realise that's the basis of why I create. Of having seemingly created something out of nothing; moulding ideas into something that can be seen/ heard/ experienced.

But beyond the initial post-creative euphoria, I will wonder if all my time and effort was worth it. The inevitable “What’s the point” rhetoric.

Luckily, once in a while, something like this comes along. Reminding me that it's worth it.

It's not new to have a video using my CC-licensed music as the soundtrack.

But what's new to me was the user being a company rather than an individual hobbyist.

Red Maps seem like a start-up firm. At least, not a huge conglomerate with a global household brand name (I do hope they become one though).

Still, to have a for-profit company using my work meant that my work had to be of a certain quality. No company worth their salt would want to be associated with low-quality music in their video. For a for-profit outfit to use my work, I consider that as affirmation of something.

When I started posting my work online, I haboured hopes that my talents might be discovered. And that I'd earn big bucks.

But the idea of "being paid" has become, to me, less about money. It is more about affirmation from others, which serves as a yardstick for my journey of self-expression.

The skeptic in me would say that all that is merely an exercise in self-massaging the ego. Nonetheless, we all have our own reasons for sharing and giving. And expectations as well.

I can't speak for everyone else who share their works under Creative Commons licenses. My primary motivation, if you can call it that, can be summed up as follows:
  • I create, as part of my journey towards self-actualisation.
  • Since the work already here, I might as well let others benefit.

Creative Commons provided that framework for sharing. A framework that I understood and was comfortable with.

I believe there might be a Long Tail to acts of kindness.

File:Long tail.svg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"An example of a power law graph showing popularity ranking. To the right is the long tail; to the left are the few that dominate. Notice that the areas of both regions match."

Can we really apply the true statistical definition of the Long Tail to "an act of kindness"?

What if the X-axis was Time and the Y-axis (vertical) was "the number of people who benefited from that one single act of kindness"? That "act of kindness" could be that one piece of work, which you and I release online (this might be interesting conversational fodder with David).

Whimsical, perhaps.

But I've come to believe that sharing my work online -- and allowing others to use -- is one of the simplest act of kindness I can do.

There's opportunity costs but it's of a very low probability. Sure, I could have been paid for my work. But I'm not likely nor willing to invest that sort of time and energy, to perfect my craft to the level of being able to make serious money on a regular basis. Such opportunity costs are low.

The extreme end of generosity would be to share the work as 'Public Domain'. You need not seek permission at all, nor are credits needed; absolutely no strings attached.

At the other end would be for people to pay money if they want to use my creations.

In-between, I think, are differing levels of generosity:
  • Creative Commons, where the owner has already given the world permission to use the work. One need not seek explicit permission, though attribution is required. Receiving monetary payment is often not the main intent of the owner.
  • 'All Rights Reserved' Copyright, where explicit permission is needed from the creator. The creator may agree to your request without any form of payment (if payment is required, it's not really sharing).

I've also come to realise that when I share, I hope to be entertained and learn from other people's self-expressions. I'm definitely a beneficiary, when people use my work and transform it into something that I cannot do for myself.

Sometimes, what is transformed fits exactly the vision I had.

I discovered two videos (here, and here) that seem to be part of a class assignment.

The second one is my absolute favorite, to date (thanks, LukeD):

KIB 105 Animation and Motion Graphics Assessment 3 - Luke Daly from Luke D on Vimeo.

LukeD's creative interpretation matched the sort of mental imagery I had, when I posted those words. Honestly, I would not have spent time making such a video. Nor would I have been able to produce an illustration-based work.

The best part is that my spoken poetry, that LukeD used, weren't even mine. The creator was kind enough to let me post them as a spoken piece.

The Long Tail of kindness indeed.
Source: CC-BY. Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation ( in partnership with Creative Commons Australia(


  1. Anonymous1:07 am

    Hi Ivan, sent you an email.
    I really hope you got it and would help me with it.

    If you have not get it, please let me know:)

    May you enjoy your life with books!

    Carpe Diem,
    Ivanka Yanyun

  2. Hi, yes I have. And sorry, no, I decline to add your company links in my blogs. Cheers.


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