As I've previously mentioned, I'm a big fan of music covers, the more bizarre the better. So those of you who appreciate clever, tongue in cheek delivery (and are not easily offended or around those who are) may want to check out Jonathan Coulton's soft, acoustic rendition of Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back. The New York Post just voted it among the top 100 cover versions of all time. Never heard his version before tonight, which shows how far outside the mainstream of cutting edge Web 2.0 geekdom I dwell, but Coulton himself is something of an Internet phenomenon and more than a mere one hit wonder.
JoCo's oddball humor has its appeal - he sings about zombies and robots and test tube babies and sex in the park- and he has a loyal on-line fan base that promotes, enhances and elaborates on his creative work. This activity is encouraged through Coulton's choice to make his music available under a Creative Commons license that allows derivative work, with attribution, for non commercial purposes. If I thought that anyone would want to take my writing and derive something other than personal enjoyment from it, maybe I'd modify my own Creative Commons license for this blog and then you all could be treated to Walking the Berkshires inspired videos animated in the World of Warcraft, like a fan has done for Coulton:
Coulton is pushing the bounds of Creative Commons can do in a discussion on his blog on how the creator of an original work and the creator of a derivative of it might collaborate for commercial gain as well as for art's sake and explores the prospects for an Internet solution to profit splitting. There is a very organic discussion in the comment thread on how to build the company that would facilitate such partnerships. Savvy stuff. Geeks with guitars are clearly forces to be reckoned with.
It is not all that uncommon for a computer programmer to quit his job and try and make a go of it as a singer songwriter. What is new and unusual is how an open source approach to the creative process can launch an artistic career on line. It helps that Coulton is talented - and may even have written an anthem for the new media generation in Code Monkey - but it is understanding of that new media and willingness to let others use it to participate in that creativity that makes it groundbreaking instead of gimmickry. Plus, he thinks it's cool to have his songs accompanied on ukulele. How cool is that?