March 31 Readings

This week's readings consider the concept of collaboration in relation to virtuality.

Community and Collaboration

Building off of last week's discussion of community, Carroli argues for the centrality of collaboration in considering how community is constructed, shaped, and maintained. Drawing upon Sandy Stone, Carroli argues that:

virtual community is…as Sandy Stone put it, "first and foremost a community of belief”

In practice, however, Carroli argues that belief turns to action as community members collaborate via various modes of communicative action. In fact:

In a virtual environment, collaboration displaces community, teasing out, as it seems to do, the possibility of radical encounters with the "other.”

In other words, for Carroli collaboration becomes the primary means by which virtual communities exist. To further this argument, she draws upon Raymond Williams to argue that collaboration is, in effect, a process of communication. While Carroli is not dealing with music, per se, this concept of communication as central to collaboration in cyberspace, for our purposes, may be situated within musical practices, given conceptualizations of music as essentially a mode of communication.

Consent and Anonymity

One of the potential problems with conceptualizing virtual interactions (that is, social relations technologically reconfigured via manipulations of space and time) as collaborative is recognizing the limits to possibility of anonymity in cyberspace and the problem of consent within asynchronous interactions. At the end of her article, Carroli raises a basic tenet of online sociality:

“In cyberspace, anonymity renders everyone who enters a stranger and also strangers to each other.”

Anonymity, coupled with issues of consent, are highly problematic, yet left unexplored by Oliver. If sampling is a collaborative relationship, the often anonymous, disembodied musical statements articulated through the music incorporating the sample raises red flags in terms of consent.

The Return of Musicking

Considering the processual and socially-oriented notion of collaboration shared by both Carroli and Oliver, Small's concept of musicking returns again as a powerful idea for understanding music and virtuality. As pointed out by Oliver, these issues are not inherently connected to the Internet, or even digital, but can be extended to fundamental understandings of virtual and the actual.


  1. How is collaboration inherently political? What sort of political issues arise through process of musical collaboration? How are these issues especially problematic in the cybercultural realm?
  2. In what ways does Oliver suggest that the concept of virtuality is embedded in the process of sampling?
  3. How does Oliver's suggestion of sampling as collaboration differ from Shaviro's concept of sampling as "cultural hacking"?
  4. How is the musical practice of call-and-response inherently collaborative? How is sampling and remixing conceptualized as a process of call-and-response?

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