Web 3.0 Age of Expertise
Dan Richards, Editor
If we're going to use information on the web about recording music, it's worth it - every now and then - to stop and examine and ask what we're doing.
I'm in agreement with Jason Calacanis, and others who seem to have a handle on things that the next revolution on the web - often called Web 3.0 - will be the "Age of Expertise." Blogging is Dead, and Why Stupid People Shouldn't Write, brings home the rise in noise on the internet in just about any area imaginable. Forums and blogs have allowed anyone to publish. And if it's about kitten pictures or the latest meme, that's one thing. But when it gets into areas of putting together a recording studio, upgrading some equipment, or production techniques, this is where it pays to qualify those who offer up advice and recommendations.
It's become too easy to be an expert on recording and gear forums. Or else the bar has been slowly and almost imperceptively lowered. Often the people who have become experts on forums got that way by spending lots of time reading through what actual experienced engineers and producers posted over the years, and sort of sucking it in through osmosis, and then spitting the information back out as their own. And it's often these types of people who have become the "experts."
I want to put something out there: Next time you're talking with a gear dealer, and they're making recommendations, and giving reasons why; ask them to give you a link to recordings they've made where they demonstrate an actual ability to engineer and understand the gear they're talking about. In a similar area, I haven't been to too many car dealerships, especially in the last ten years, where the salespeople knew more than I did about the cars I was interested in. And in many cases, at least they were honest about it.
What seems to make this trend even more slippery to the pro-audio end consumer, is that putting together a recording system requires an investment of time and money, and a big factor is where to allocate the time and money. I've seen people on forums get steered in such a far off direction, in terms of what's important and what may or may not work for them. Often the "solutions" are outrageously expensive, and not in any kind of proper proportion to what they've spent in other areas of their recording system. Dealers are dealers for a reason. They sell product. And some of them can do it well, but just keep in mind that they may not actually be the right people to be able to give any information based on any real experience as to which product would actually be a better choice.
This is all what I've called a rise of "internet engineers." They're not audio engineers, music producers, or, in many cases, even actually good musicians. And they contribute more to the noise, and lower the bar to the degree that those who have actual contributions to make are often driven off, simply because the environment is knee deep in tail chasing and blind leading the blind. To be fair, though, and to use dealers in the proper perspective; they are in the business of dealing with manufacturers and shipping out your gear to you, and being a good business for you to have a relationship with.
There are other end-users who've used a few products, and will jump up and down about them - over and over again, and recommend the few pieces they've used in every other topic. Combine these types of users along with the dealers, and you've got a recipe for noise and misinformation that's long on wasting bandwidth, and short on supplying the kind of signal to allow anyone to make an intelligent and educated decision.
The internet has brought about so many changes, and it's been exciting to see manufacturers and other businesses start and rise because of the growing community of recording musicians. But let's keep in mind, that it's the recording community - the musicians, songwriters, arrangers, producers, mixers - that have pumped in the fuel to allow for the growth of these companies and businesses. We've also seen the crest of that wave come and go as we begin to more fully enter this new decade.
The return to the expert is a return to higher signal, less noise. Experts will, in most cases, limit the choice of tools and techniques. So as to get you to really dig in to the experience you're wanting to achieve. I remember an interview with Paul McCartney when asked about what kind of strings he uses. He said, "I know they come in a box." And it's these little bits of wisdom that can point us in the direction of true exploration.
Initially, the answer an expert could give might not be the bite-sized, buy-it-now answer. It's often something that will take you deeper, and put the responsibility on you for your own experience. Something that acts as a catalyst for actual improvement - not just a vertical sliding back and forth.
I remember reading magazines when I coming up in what was then an actual studio industry. I almost always got enough out of an article or something that I'd read that I'd find a way to use what I'd read in the studio. I didn't feel the need to jump on some forum. I never even wrote into any magazine. But the information was often thought-provoking, and in many cases just a starting point for me to explore more deeply.
As we move along in these next few years, Pro Studio Reviews will do its small part to raise the signal and lower the noise. To provide a platform for experts to make contributions. To be a source of sifted and served-up information and resources that will empower and inspire our readers.
I'll leave this with another quote from web entrepreneur Jason Calacanis, "There needs to be a better system for tuning down the stupid people and tuning up the smart people."