Junto at Hilobrow.com

In which she decodes the predictions inherent in Benjamin Franklin's original Junto

Peggy Nelson at hilobrow.com has produced a thoughtful and highly appreciated overview of the weekly Disquiet Junto series of music assignments, which are hosted at soundcloud.com.

She intersperses pairs of recordings from various Junto assignments in order to highlight contrasts in response to the same instructions and source material. And in between these pairings, she inserts descriptions of the Junto’s broader concerns. She touches on Benjamin Franklin, whose own Junto loaned its name to our endeavor, and has kind words regarding the open nature of participation in our modern version.

And she drops this excellent insight:

“A social club dedicated to mutual improvement”might be a #TweetsOfOld description of remix culture, if we extend social into media and networking, and aim improvement at the artworks instead of their makers. Exchanging leather aprons for a screen and mouse, Disquiet Junto is a fresh update on an old, but still very much alive and relevant, idea, applying social and improvement to music remixing.
Variations on the phrase “social club dedicated to mutual improvement”are routinely associated with Franklin’s Junto, based on phrasing originating in his autobiography. I’ve been employing it myself when talking about the origins of the term. What Nelson does is great. She unpacks the phrase. She locates within the word “social” a premonition of social media, and matters even broader than social media: the modern, digitally enabled network culture that characterizes creative life on the Internet. From “improvement,” Nelson notes the sense of iterative development inherent in the sequential and recombinant essence of remixing. That is, in brief, some excellent cogitation.

At the end of her piece, Nelson thanks twitter.com/lrjp for “additional music reporting,” so I will as well. Read the full piece at hilobrow.com. Follow Nelson on Twitter at twitter.com/otolythe. And read at theatlantic.com how she got her “otolythe” moniker. It involves hearing and physiology and little fish and the evolution of self-identification on the Internet.

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