Bar Karma and “What Others Receive”

For the cutting edge crowd-sourced drama Bar Karma to survive, CurrentTV creators need to listen to a little bit of music.

The show’s writers could use some help from Darren Solomon. He asked a bunch of musicians to create two-minute scores that could be played randomly and simultaneously on YouTube in InBFlat and on Google Maps in marker/music

InBFlat is fully crowd-sourced drawing on random musicians who submitted entries and the viewer’s ability to pick and choose from 20 instrument selections. Try a combination of glass marimba, electric guitar, and DSi synthesizer. marker/music narrowed the focus to a single community in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Solomon worked with students and faculty at Northern State University and placed the locations of recordings on a Google Map.

Solomon’s ethic of interactivity requires that everybody involved really participate. Yes, he makes the final cut on what sounds but the actual content is fully developed by the whole. And that is where Bar Karma falls down.

Crowd-source viewers are developing intriguing plots for Bar Karma, coming up with great variations on what happens when “a guy walks into a bar.” In this case, the bar is sort of a cosmic waystation drawing everyone from a writer whose children’s book leads to a terrorist attack to patient in the middle of highly questionable surgery.  It’s the professional team of writers who are falling flat. So the viewer part of crowd sourcing seems to be working out well, dispelling fears the program design would be just a gimmick.

Early reviewers of the first show begged for better conversations to live out the complex plots, but so far that hasn’t happened. A change of philosophy is in order. It’s not enough to say you really want to be interactive … you have to take the plunge for real. For this show to make it, the creators are going to have to throw the dialogue out for public editing just as they threw everything out from a Mazda product placement to the theme music. Frankly, the public can’t do any worse than show’s current dialogue.

 The last line of the only narrative option InBFlat gives the ethic that Bar Karma needs: “It’s not about what I produce. It’s all about what others receive.”

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