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The Blogosphere

Crowd Sourcing and Worship (The Church and the Avant-garde #2)

(4 October 2011)

Imogen Heap: lifeline

I've been following Imogen Heap's progress on her new album - the first song - working title #heapsong1, now Lifeline - began with a call to fans to send in ideas for lyrics and sound samples...

I've been following Imogen Heap's progress on her new album - the first song - working title #heapsong1, now Lifeline - began with a call to fans to send in ideas for lyrics and sound samples. The final song is part Imogen Heap, part Imogen Heap fans. Heap was also involved in the Love the Earth Film which was edited from thousands of nature clips sent in by the public. This collaborative concept is called crowd-sourcing, and developed as a creative business solution, involving potentially anyone, primarily online. Sometimes, contributors are rewarded, but crowd-sourcing has come in for criticism if it is seen to exploit folks who offer free service. In practice, because it is an opt-in process, this is not a problem, and I'm pretty sure that if Imogen Heap used my lyric idea, I'd be happy enough to leave it at that.

Such collaborative creativity is not new - a Cathedral is nothing if not a collaborative work of art. Furthermore, during worship, there is a sense in which the minister's role is to focus and join together the work of the wholepeople - an opt-in moment of creative communal expression. Whether or not it feels like this is, of course, a different matter, and on that note, the possibilities of online crowd sourcing present themselves as an exciting framework for worship. It suggests to me ways in which diverse and marginal voices can gather into some kind of shared expression, deepening the scope of artistic expression in ways that are perhaps simply not otherwise practical.

Does the minister then become an 'editor'? Perhaps, and perhaps again such crowd-sourcing opens up ways of reducing the amount of final control. These are tricky issues, but they are worth facing if the potential gain is a renewal of communal worship that draws on as wide and diverse a range of expression as the people are diverse. It suggests a way in which the Christian worship might embrace the gift of the avant-garde.

Rich Wyld

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