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“I’ve got the power!” – Snap 1990

04th February 2011
By monikacis in Internet Law
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In The Long Tail Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine fame talks about ‘the democratization of production’. That means we all get to make stuff now. We’ve got the power, in a real Carl Marx kind of way.

We can produce video, e-books, albums, games and iPhone apps all from home. Cottage industry has gone digital. Or is it the digital industry that’s gone cottage? Either way, it’s far easier then ever to get your stuff out there and seen by people. You don’t need a team of creatives, a big office, and a million dollar budget to make something really cool. You just need a laptop, the right tools, a good idea, and a bit of grit.

Who’d have thought that ‘grit’ was a rare material? Come on, we put it on our roads when they get icy. Cowboys eat them by the plural.

What is grit? The hard stuff. Calcium droplets of pure determination…the grit to make something really good.

It’s ‘easy’ to make an album. I’ve done it myself. It was fun…not what I would call hard work. And when I listen to it now I realize that it’s pretty damned ‘spongy’. There’s no grit.

Where do you get grit from? Other people. A GOOD album comes from playing live, a lot. Every song is tested out on an audience numerous times. Feedback is taken on board. Not all of the feedback…that’s just turns a good song into a naff compilation of everyone’s wish list. The feedback that matters, that’ll make the songs better. Then there’s the rewrite and the replay…and again, and again until you’re so sick of the stuff that you want to throw it out of a window.

And that’s when you know it’s time to do just that…chuck it into the bewilderness of the internets. That’s when it’s time to see if you really have made a GOOD album.

And you know what? That’s not the end of the process. When I heard that Linkin Park were getting fans to vote on what songs they should put into their album I knew that these guys had the grit thing sussed. As a result, ‘A Thousand Suns’ is a brilliant album.

I’m waxing lyrical about music here, but the same process, the same grit applies to iPhone and iPad apps too. Whether they’re a game or a customer relationship management system they need the ‘grits’ to help. The Grits being the initial audience…the people with the license to say what rocks and what sucks.

Beware of the app that’s made in a small windowless room by two enthusiastic guys with an app development kit. Beware their ‘top secret project that’s going to be bigger than Facebook’. Beware the weird hybrid of arrogance and insecurity that keeps an app under wraps until the international release date.

Beware grit-free roads of black ice.

When you hide your work from the Grits then you’re being precious, and you’re retarding your baby. An audience is like sun and rain to a plant…or a nice warm body to virus.

Apps, books, games, albums, videos…they all need the Grits.

The big machines of media have Grits built in. Lots of minions having a shot at the project as it passes over their collective beige desks. Their downfall is not their process but their mission…to make stuff that appeals to AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE.

Us in the trenches of Niche…we don’t need to please everyone. But we need to make sure that we please SOMEONE. That’s where the Grits come in.

Yes, we’ve got the power, we control the means of production. But before we launch our music, apps, and books into the internets we need to know that it’s good, not because we said so…

…because the Grits said so.
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