About the Author:

With a career that has spanned advertising, production, technical services, and project management, Michael is able to articulate the wide range skills and professions that make the Internet work. This eclectic understanding and his desire to shine the light on those hiding behind techno babble has brought success to a wide range of projects.

Twitter @bissell

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Past Postings:

Using Dissent To Enhance Your Social Influence Online

Industry Profile - Author

Industry Profiles – Full Time Employees - Professional Writer

Some Thoughts On Freelancing

Building Your Online Brand

Marissa Mayer and the Change in Yahoo's Remote Workforce

LinkedIn for Professional Writers

Fake Republican Twitter Accounts

"Did you mean?" -- Google's chiding nanny of search results

Branded Technology

Sharingspree.com -- Stealing more than GroupOn's Idea

The Internet Isn't Entertaining Enough

It's not your bank... It's Apple's and Amazon's

Violated by Madison Avenue

Google+ Scares Me

"We need to..." Internet Marketing Myths

Facebook's deal with the Devil

My cool new phone is a little too cool.

You are never alone

Promotion vs. Distribution... You'd think they'd know that one...

Publishing Industry Watch

Content for Social Media

Social Media Slot Machine

Anonymous vs Me

News from the Twitter Follow Campaign Trail

The art of Indiscriminate Twitter Following

The Cloudy Meaning of The Cloud

The Demand For The Loss of Creativity

Alien Technology and Government Conspiracies

Time for a New Reality

The Death of Email

Protecting Free Speech... Anonymously (and geekily)

Amazon Shouldn't Have Shut Down WikiLeaks

The Superpowers of the Hive Mind

Time for New Ideas

Comcast, Netflix and the Mystery of the Modem

The Great Technical Disconnect

New for the Sake of New

A Retail Store Built Like the Web

Disposable Personas

When did Google Start Policing the Internet?

Getting back to HTML basics, thanks to Apple

Inspecting my Navel Base

A shoebox vs. an online backup

Is Your "Resume" Website Recruiter-friendly?

iBooks -- Creative Epicenter or Gatekeeper?

The Failure of Success

The Economy is Going to Get Worse, but that's okay

Time lost on Twitter

Client Vendor Relationships

Twitter's back alleys and dark places

Social Media is NOT Advertising

Microsoft Courier

Form (designers) versus Function (geeks)

PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb

China and Apple -- Different organizations, same management

The volume of screens


Google Adds Biking Directions to Maps


That magical little tablet

How your website can be in two places at once

Masterpieces created by sheer volume

Suing over lack of originality

A Primer on Internet Fame -- dancing babies, hamsters, numa numa, and more...

Checking my messages

Rules are made to be broken -- in a reasoned, systematic way

So many accounts, so few passwords

Who really uses Twitter? 60% of Twitter's traffic isn't on Twitter

The Web is a Jerry Rigged Kludge

Twitter: Asleep at the Mouse Wheel

Where regulation is good: Google Voice and Vonage

How Facebook is (unintentionally) forcing programmers to piss off users

The Twit Cleaner

Perfect Secretary's pitch for @Adbroad (and the Youtube API)

The Emotions of Text

The Shorty Awards Scandal -- Manual Spam is still Spam

Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail

Helen Klein Ross & Michael Bissell Interview at Adweek's Social Media Strategies Conference

The Internet is the New 60's

Cougars from New Zealand (and I don't mean big cats)

Adding facts together, or why you can't charge your cell phone from wifi

Social Media and the Destruction of the World

Rabid Fans vs Passive Viewers -- The Coco vs Leno saga

How to tell someone to retweet (without using up your 140 characters)

You can't buy social media

A book unopened is but a block of paper

Building the LOST: The Final Season Sweepstakes

Holiday SPAM (or the lack thereof)

Archiving Twitter

Too Many Toolbars

Random Censorship with Google Adwords

Accessibility and Shopping Online

Twisted path to customer service

Flash: Shiny objects blinding your audience

Twollow and other gold rush scripts

GPS in a Laptop computer

Thinking outside the box... There was a box?

Twitter was designed for Text Messaging

It's not the corporations, damnit

Entrepreneur or Dreamer?

Adweek Social Media Twitter for Brands Presentation

Socializing is more than Social Media

Generational Marketing is a Myth (or Who's your Daddy?)

Social Media is Just the Way We Use the Internet

Twitter Followers Don't Matter (ask the porn sites)

The Internet is Gooder than Books

Sometimes you don't want your campaign to go viral

Best Twitter Branding Campaign

Like flies to crap, Spammy Twitter Followers don't really go away

iPhone SMS Security Hole

How Flipmytweet works

Cell Phones as Microscopes

Digg is not the Hijacker -- You Are

Steve Ballmer -- the walking dead?

Twitter as an open mic poetry reading

Automatic Social [un]Awareness

First splash for United Against Malaria

New Media/Old Media and the CLIO Awards

Interview at SXSW: Mad Men Twitter And Tracking

We've got an App for that -- it's called the Web

Understanding Google To Get Your Resume Noticed

The trouble with Wordpress and other templates

Wayward Words with Baggage

Speaking at SXSW March 17th

The fleeting Memory of the Internet

It's okay to say 'I don't know'

Nike Takes Over Conquent

Facebook owns this title

Excuses, excuses

A little on Social Media

Feeding on Content

Attack of the Bots

Web 1.0

Net Neutrality

Getting clever with data feeds

The Other Credit Crisis

The Broadband Inauguration

T-Mobile owns Magenta and Other Patent Stories

The Risk-takers, Doers and Makers of Things

The noise of 20,000+ Twitter Followers

30,000 feet, 500 MPH Suburban Strip Mall

Cellphones, toilets and the Inauguration

The End of Days (of song): Microsoft Songsmith Example

Browser Bigotry

The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith

Creative Development or Developing Creatively?

The Myth of Wikipedia (or the Wiki-1400)

Online/Offline Sales -- is it really that bad?

Is PayPal Tacky?

Old School Web Design Still Works

Domain Squatting

Green Chri$tma$

QA 101

Portland Snow

Get some return on that web traffic

I think they have a backup...

I'd love to have that problem

The [un]importance of statistics

Don't be a tool of viral marketing

Emails, discussions, blogs, wiki and web content

You Designed for Print First

You let someone else register your domain name

You figured .biz, .info, .us would work fine

What's after the Integrated Circuit?

Intelligent life is out there (but it's bugger all down here on earth)

Subject Matter Experts Talking Other Subject Matter

The Totalitarian Regime of Apple

Oversimplifying how people work


Creative Services for the New World

Reverse Anthropomorphism

The End of Time

Better Living Through Twitter

Lessons Learned From Apple

It's the Brand, Baby

Business Architecture vs. Web Construction

On Truth

Inverse Peter Principle

Random Knowledge

The Hive

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The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith
Posted: 2009-01-08 11:08:30
Shortcut URL: http://t.conquent.com/f100

Now THIS is what I'm talking about when I try to explain the difference between using a tool and creating something.
Songsmith generates musical accompaniment to match a singer’s voice. Just choose a musical style, sing into your PC’s microphone, and Songsmith will create backing music for you. Then share your songs with your friends and family, post your songs online, or create your own music videos.
Create really, really, crappy background music for you.

You may have a song in your head, something beautiful and wonderful to share, and this monstrosity will make it sound like show tunes on the Love Boat. Rather than creating something new, this thing destroys your creativity and replaces it with soulless pap.

This is the same problem with desktop publishing, the camcorder, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver. The tools give you the appearance of having a talent, but it doesn't actually give you that talent.

Socrates said about writing (because he apparently didn't write), "To your students you give an appearance of wisdom, not the reality of it." Now, I'm not saying that the written word is bad, but we've had literally (pun intended) thousands of years to learn how to use the tool.

It's creative when you're the first one to use a tool a new way. Some of the early Internet phenomena were total crap, like the dancing hamster site. People went to these things in droves because no one had done it before, but the talent it took to create a few animated gifs and speed up a wave file was simple. Then the thousands of knock-offs made the Internet a terrible place.

I feel that it's our destiny in life to raise the bar, to constantly find new things, and deeper understanding of old things. Finding a simpler way to do something like adding chord progressions to a vocal track is great, but when you put it into a package like Songsmith, you create a superficial distraction.

Nothing new will come from Songsmith users, and they will be so self impressed, and so distracted by their little creations that they will never evolve, they will never learn new things about themselves or learn how to create real music. And, most likely, they will never learn what real music is.

Turn off the chord generator, and just sing.

Browser Bigotry
Creative Development or Developing Creatively?

Edward Hart: Re: The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith
2009-01-08 15:25:06

There isn't any substitute for real chords played by real musicians on real musical instruments simply because no two performances will be the same. Listen to Django Reinhardt playing jazz guitar or Art Tatum on piano and you'll see what I mean. There on another planet. If you listen to Teddy Wilson on piano, you're on another planet still.

However, to pretend you can't create things using short-cuts of one kind or another such as amplifiers, chord generators, drum machines or Dreamweaver, isn't true.

Real music and Songsmith both allow scope for improvisation and nuance. It depends who is doing it. I know which I prefer but I wouldn't say, ispo facto, that the other method has no value. I can't, it depends what you do with it.

Two people with a paintbrush will produce two very different paintings, whether they have merit or not doesn't come down to the brush they use. The rssult isn't just a question of technique either, real art is novel - in the true sense of the word - a different way of seeing.

The same applies to Dreamweaver. You can be a largely talentless user or someone who'll explore every avenue that the product allows. To say that an idea - and by extension a design -doesn't have any merit because of the software used - is nonsense. It is the user that is important because without the user nothing happens anyway.

However, using software imposes limitations from the outset but a talented user of Songsmith won't just see the cords he or she will hear them. The same applies to any instrument, practical or otherwise. In the end it comes down how well the performer or operator can use it.

The people who use Songsmith are unlikely to come up with anything new not because it's Songsmith but because they want to take a shortcut on a road that must inevitably be long. Long, unless your Mozart or Bach... In which case you can see what you want to do in your mind's eye and just get on with it. There are plenty of people out there who enjoy making music without recourse to gadgets. Unfortunately, many people haven't the time, talent or inclination to do this - that's why they take shortcuts.

There will always be people who will eschew these things and go it alone. Why? Because they can. They don't need them. In this instancce, beauty is in the user.

Michael Bissell: Re: The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith
2009-01-08 17:46:04

Don't get me wrong: tools are great. But a tool that limits you, like Songsmith (or Dreamweaver), limits more than the creative product, it limits your growth.

Guitar Hero doesn't teach you to play guitar, but at least it doesn't pretend to teach. Tools that pretend to be more than the are... that's the crux of the problem.

DavidN: Re: The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith
2009-01-13 12:25:26

What an excellent description of it at the end - I just found out about this, er, music software through being linked to the unintentionally hilarious advert video for it, and after being slightly infuriated at the whole idea for a while, just began to find it more and more comical.

It's never going to instantly churn out things that anyone thinks are hits, but it's inevitably going to perform the near-miraculous feat of making Youtube a bit more annoying.

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