The Valuing Electronic Music workshop took place yesterday at the Open University’s London offices in Camden, with contributions from Kate Oakley, Nick Crossley, Maddy Radcliff, Simon Tanner, Charlotte Tupman, Alistair Willis, and Matthew Yee King as well as Anna, Byron, and myself. It was a great opportunity to share what we’ve found so far with an expert audience and get informed feedback on the project as a whole.
Here’s an example of the sort of thing that was discussed. A single SoundCloud user may be linked to many thousands more by several different means. These include following others, joining groups with them, and favouriting, commenting on, and reposting their tracks. Should we focus selectively on certain kinds of link, combine them all (perhaps weighting certain kinds of links differently), or treat them as constitutive of parallel networks? As if the sheer variety and volume of quantitative data were not challenging enough to deal with, our qualitative research has brought us face to face with the ambiguities of its interpretation. For example, we’ve learnt that some users will favourite – and even comment on – a track without having listened to it, simply as a way of getting the attention of the person who uploaded it. Having time to talk through these issues with such a fantastic group of experts was hugely beneficial.
We’re still really busy with the project (and not least with organising the forthcoming public event on 6 June), so there isn’t time for a full report on the day right now. But it’s worth highlighting some of the most central points arising from yesterday’s discussions. For one thing, they helped to reaffirm the importance of our theoretical starting point, which is to understand value in terms of acts of valuing. As Kate Oakley put it: for us, ‘value’ is a verb. For another, they brought home the significance of one of the clearest themes emerging: that it matters who values cultural work.
We’ll be uploading our presentations to the website in podcast form once the editing’s done. In the meantime, try to keep the evening of 6 June free in your diary!