Words by c.z.robertson

Art and the Lone Genius

1999-12-31 01:00:00 UTC

I was reading an article recently about whether free documentation (like free software) would be a good thing or not, and I realised that I was unhappy with the common view of how art is created. Basically the article is saying that documentation is art, and that making changes to a work of art like you would make changes to free software would be a bad thing. (Actually the article makes some other points which I agree with, but that's the general theme.)

There's an assumption, which came out in some of the responses on Linux Today, that good art is the product of a single genius, and that art produced by groups of people would be inferior, or at the very least that it would be disastrous if people were allowed to change the ending of a story or the lyrics of a song in the way that they can fix a piece of GPLed software if it doesn't work.

I disagree completely. Much old literature was based on stories told orally: The Odyssey and Njal's Saga come to mind. Le Morte Darthur was based earlier poems. Many bands work together when composing songs. It's rare these days that a film is the work of one person. And remixes?... The list goes on...