Mike Doughty cuts through the noise

May 2, 2008

Photo: ChrisB in SEA, CC by-nc-nd

Charge up your mp3 player. As part of the Berkman Center’s ongoing tenth anniversary celebration, Berkman@10, we’re retrieving some multimedia classics from our past.

To date, we’ve: re-presented Lawrence Lessig’s fall 2000 debate with Jack Valenti; brought back Charles Nesson’s framing of IS2K7, University: Knowledge Beyond Authority; re-produced John Perry Barlow's reassesment of his 1994 essay on the economy of ideas; re-posed the question: Will the Internet draft the next president? and jumped back to Ethan Zuckerman's supercharged history of digital community.

This week, an audio-only treat for music makers and fans: Eric Hellweg's April 2005 "interactive interview" with Mike Doughty, former Soul Coughing frontman, on creativity, music, and technology. When we asked the Berkman Center community which moments from the past should be featured this spring as multimedia classics, there was unanimous enthusiasm for this interview, which kicked off Signal/Noise 2k5: Creative Revolution? with not only discussion, but also live demonstration, Doughty strumming away in the Ames Courtroom at an implausible morning hour.

In the context of the iTunes store's increasing success, with Napster dead and MGM v. Grokster underway, Doughty and Hellweg (alumnus of the first Signal or Noise? conference) turn the audience's eyes -- ears, rather -- to the promiscuity of pop chords, riffs as building blocks, the musician's vocation, the industry's future, and sampling and the law. The Q&A includes questions from Berkman Fellows Wendy Seltzer and Jake Shapiro (of PRX and Two Ton Shoe fame).

Without further ado...
download the mp3
(33:17, 15.3 MB).

A sampling of recent hits around music online:


Two weeks to go: The Berkman@10 conference and gala are approaching fast! We have spruced up the agenda, and the conference wiki is up and running. Registration is open, space is limited, reserve your seat now!

Last updated

May 9, 2008