Open-Sourcing and Magic
Is It A Happy Couple Or An Unhappy Marriage?

Open-Sourcing and Magic

Crowd-sourcing, out-sourcing and open sourcing are some of the terms that have emerged in this new millennium and echo the principle of democracy in fields that lie beyond the spectrum of politics.

While these concepts have been applied in several disciplines with varying degrees of success, magic remains an exception and even now there is no solution in sight for those who are engaged in constant agreement.

Given the nature of magic, crowd-sourcing and out-sourcing are automatically eliminated but open-sourcing is very much applicable and entails letting others in on how a particular magic trick is performed.

In case of magicians this implies revealing their trade secrets; an act which is bound to cause hurt to the professional front not just to them but the entire community of professionals.

For a magician, open-sourcing and magic would mean collaborating with experts from related fields like scientists, technologists, artists and programmers each of which is expected to contribute towards creation of an illusion and work towards making it better.

cup and balls poloroid

True though it is that working in tandem with other professionals opens new horizons and helps to innovate existing tricks, it also calls for letting others in on fiercely guarded knowledge that is often treated as intellectual property. (open-sourcing and magic)

Anyone who has been to a magic show or even studied the subject in depth is likely to be able to interpret, at least approximately if not precisely, how the trick was performed.

Ample proof of this is available on YouTube and television wherein spoil-sports not only unravel the trick but also go to the extent of taking all the credit for it.

Open-Sourcing and Magic

So what about the magicians who invented the trick in the first place?

Are they not justified in feeling indignant about their tricks being stolen from them and broadcast the world over without so much as their permission or any acknowledgement of their talents?

Apart from the copyright issue, there is of course the issue of having one less trick available for future use because subsequent to having been disclosed the trick will have lost its charm and hence can never be enacted again.

Owing to these factors, magic as a field has always remained shrouded in secrecy which many magicians feel is responsible for its retarded and stunted growth.

Particularly vocal in applying open-sourcing to magic is Marco Tempest, a well known techno-illusionist of Swiss origin, who is currently engaged in developing a robot named ‘Baxter’ to serve as his personal assistant in the future.

magic library

According to him, magic is currently a totally closed field which can only benefit from opening up to allow other disciplines to contribute towards the designing of miracles.  He is also strongly in favour of the theory that when an illusion has been successfully staged, credit for its creation should be shared by all parties concerned, including the magician.

Another magician who supports this view is Kieron Kirkland who is currently practicing his art in Britain.

But so far these are the only protagonists who have expressed favour for open-sourcing in magic and they do not even constitute the tip of an iceberg.

Whether convincing other experts will be easy or difficult remains to be seen as is the fact that how many of them come forward in support of this concept?

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