The Race For Fleeting Advantages Drives Progress In Magic
from the plenty-of-innovation dept
The paper we linked to on Tuesday about innovation in the magic industry has generated a lot of attention around the blogosphere. Magician Andrew Mayne thinks we’ve got it all wrong. He tells us that "creative people are constantly pulled from magic to places where intellectual property is better recognized," and that the magic industry would be more innovative if it were more like the music industry. Interestingly, after faulting the paper for lacking any economic research or input from magic creators, Mayne himself failed to offer any examples of individuals who have left the magic industry because of an inability to make a living. Nor does he cite any other magicians who share his view. Magic legend Jim Steinmeyer apparently thinks the current system would break down if the magic industry were as large as the music industry, but he doesn’t dispute that it works pretty well at its present size.
Meanwhile, my friend Jacob Grier, who has worked as a freelance magician for several years, hails the paper for its thorough research and disagrees with Mayne’s critique. As an example, he quotes a high profile dispute between prop makers over charges that one has been copying the other’s designs. While the more established craftsman was annoyed that his designs were being copied without credit, he didn’t feel the dispute was hurting his business much: "I think that the feud/competition has actually increased my business by a rather large margin. And the competition has certainly been a catalyst for me to improve my products." That echoes a point we’ve made repeatedly here on Techdirt: that a competitive marketplace leads to more innovation because it forces producers to constantly improve their products and stay ahead of the competition. That’s true in the software industry, and it’s just as true when you’re talking about magic. Perhaps that’s why, as Jacob puts it, "If anything, it’s much more common to hear magicians complain about the tremendous glut of new products on the market rather than of a dearth of innovation."