Crypton Future Media, the company that owns the rights to Hatsune Miku states that “Hatsune Miku is not merely music software anymore.  It’s turned into a source of inspiration to create its derivative works.”  When initially created, the software was a singing synthesizer application that was created utilizing a female persona.  The software name Hatsune Miku is a blending of three Japanese root words hatsu – meaning first, the sound ne, and miku meaning future; literally identifying this as the first in a series of vocal synthesis software applications.  The picture on the front of the software application packaging is the basis for all the future renderings of the character of Hatsune Miku.

 An important component to the phenomenon that is Hatsune Miku is a video sharing website in Japan called Nico Nico Douga.  Synonymous with YouTube, this site has unique features that support and actually promoted the Hatsune Miku popularity.  Hamasaki, Takeda, Hope & Nishimura (2009) indicate that the direct overlaying of comments on the videos, in addition to the custom within the site of creators citing other videos if portions i.e. sound or image is used; as important components to the collaborative process used to create Hatsune Miku.  There are other sites that utilize a massively collaborative process in the creation of content, namely Wikipedia and to a degree YouTube, however these sites involve creators in communication with one another through the creation process.  In Nico Nico Douga, and specifically with Hatsune Miku, the creators function autonomously with little collaboration throughout the creative process (Hamasaki & Takeda, 2009).

Hatsune Miku is a form of MAD movies.  MAD movies are compilations of extracts of commercial and frequently copyrighted material.  There are multiple examples of this on YouTube.  Hatsune Miku is unique in that the material is created by individuals within the community and not taken from commercial programs (Hamasaki & Takeda, 2009).  The videos created are actually a blending of multiple original or bits of previously created videos utilized to create a seamless music video with an anime character singing.  Songwriters, song creators, illustrators, and editors all work independently to create a collaborative final product.  As the portions previously used are cited, creators welcome the use of their materials as this promotes a sense of value to their work.

How then does the massively collaborative creation fit with current communications theory?  The best fit to the process is the Social Networking/Social Penetration theories.  These theories examine the ties between the participants in online networking and how these ties, along with the strength of the ties impact the communication between participants.  Hatsune Miku is definitely collaborative, with multiple individuals contributing to the final project.  The issue is that in the majority of cases, the collaborators never communicate with one another.  How then do individuals that do not even have weak ties, join to create a Hatsune Miku video?  If individuals are able to creatively collaborate without communication, how then will this skill set and expectation by the participants translate to other genres e.g. business, education and other creative endeavors?  It is possible that in the future, ownership of an idea is considered passé with the expectation of everyone collaborating to create a final product.  How this will impact creations such as literature, music, and art is anyone’s guess.

References cited:

Desilets, A. (2007). Translation Wikified: How will massive online collaboration impact the world of translation?  Proceedings of Translating and the Computer, National Research Council Canada, November 29-30, London, United Kingdom

Hamasaki, M., & Takeda, H. (2009). Social networks of an emergent massively collaborative creation community. Retrieved from http://www-kasm.nii.ac.jp/papers/takeda/09/hamasaki09sdow.pdf.

Hamasaki, M., Takeda, H., Hope, T.,& Nishimura, T. (2009).  Network analysis of an emergent massively collaborative creation community: How can people create videos collaboratively without collaboration?  Retrieved from http://www-kasm.nii.ac.jp/papers/takeda/09/hamasaki09icwsm.pdf

Hamasaki, M., Takeda, H., & Nishimura, T. (2008).  Network analysis of massively collaborative creation of multimedia contents: Case study of Hatsune Miku videos on Nico Nico Douga.  Retrieved from http://www.kasm.nii.ac.jp/papers/takeda/08/hamasaki08uxtv.pdf

Kriegel, M., & Aylett, R. (2008). Emergent narrative as a novel framework for massively collaborative authoring. Retrieved from http://www.macs.hw.ac.uk/EcircusWeb/Publications/Computerscience/kriegelAylett_iva08.pdf.

What is the “Hatsune Miku” movement?  Retrieved from Crypton website at http://www.crypton.co.jp/download/pdf/info_miku_e.pdf

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