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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The March 2011 entrée: Morgan Strebler » » Question for FREE Molten » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Morgan Strebler
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Do you think the internet has helped or hurt magic, and what can we as magicians do to elevate our art, with this powerful tool? The best answer wins a free Molten!

Here is the effect if you don't know what it is....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnURT4Sk3Bw
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mahucharn
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Hello Morgan,

Thanks very much for opening this up for discussion, as I do think that it needs to be discussed.

I am of the opinion that the internet has helped magic, but is not without its flaws. I live in an area where the closest magic shop is about an hour and a half away, which makes finding new effects rather difficult. Also, as far as I am aware, there are no magic clubs or anything around where I live. Because of this, the internet has helped integrate me with the magic community.

One thing that I do like about the internet & its influence on magic is that it allows performers to introduce ideas through websites like the Magic Café. Developing magic effects takes time, precision, and more often than not, a friend to act as a spectator and point out your effect's flaws. Calen Morelli is currently doing a series called 365 Days of Magic (check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/user/CalenMorelli) which has produced some wonderful effects.

For young people especially, the internet is a way that people can get interested in magic, which has helped grow the community at large and bring in quite a few young magician. A few weeks ago someone posted a thread under the New To Magic section of the Café asking for stage names, they told us that we were 8 years old. I got into magic by watching people like Michael Vincent perform effects on the DVD trailers (Rhapsodies in Silver & Other Mysteries rings a bell). Had it not been for watching Michael Vincent perform, it is very possible that I, along with several of my friends, would not be performing magic today.

I think that a lot of times, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all of the material that you see within a magic store. The internet is nice in this sense because the online website will often show you one or two of the effects being performed from the DVD. This makes it easier to decide what you want to spend your hard earned cash on, and reduces buyer's regret.

We can use the internet to improve magic by reducing the amount of exposure on the internet (as there is a ton of it). If we can reduce the amount of exposure or promote controlled exposure like in The Banquet Room section of the Café, it will give us more of an opportunity to grow as a magic community. The everyday person is becoming more aware of magic and how the sleights work, so we must use the speed of the internet to quickly communicate ideas to one another to avoid the deterioration of magic as an art.

Best of luck to all of you entering the contest (if you can call it that),
Jordan
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Due to the fact that the internet is so vast and open, there are inherently going to be issues when dealing with a secretive art like magic. However, I think the benefits of the internet have far outweighed the negatives. As mentioned above, a great thing about the internet is that it can enable to youth to learn about an art they may have previously passed over. I was one of those kids who loved magic since birth and never looked back, but until I was 10, the extent of my magical knowledge and territory was limited to a joke shop I visited two or three times a year and a few books aimed at children. Around the age of 10, I found a forum for magicians and to my surprise the majority of the members were in their teens or twenties.

The members were so helpful and they encouraged me, tutored me, and gave me advice on where to begin my real studies. Not only that, but they made me feel like I was already a part of the community. For me, this was one of the greatest parts of it. I had always envied people who told stories about how they spent years hanging at their magic shop and spoke of the owners and patrons as if they were family. This wasn't an option for me as I was young and my mother wasn't the kind of person to drop off a 10 year old for hours at a time. Good parenting has its drawbacks. With the discovery of this old forum, I felt as though I had obtained a piece of this magic culture that thrived off community and communication. For an art focused on secrets, we rely on each other to keep our passion alive. Of course, had I just googled magic, I may have been drawn into exposure, and only the "hip" new effects coming. This is where it is up to us, as magicians, to take control of the internet and make sure we use it as a tool and not let it work against us. If we make an effort to guide others, then others can learn to use it for good.

Another great thing about magic on the internet is that we can bring magic to those who are unlucky enough to live outside the reach of any magic dealer. Although in today's world, shipping can get almost anywhere, it can be extremely expensive to get things sent around the world. The introduction of ebooks and downloads has made studying magic less expensive and more convenient for many. With the introduction of online reviews, and especially the more entertaining video-reviews, such as The Wizard Product Review, more people are able to save their money for the effects that really work for their environment and skill set. The responsibility to control piracy and such is on us. We need to be vigilant and stay current with the best ways to block piracy. Along with download, live sessioning is a great way for magicians to meet up with like-minded individuals to learn and collaborate. At college, I do not know any magicians and there is no magic shop near me. It is nice to not only study magic, but work on it with others.

With all of opportunities the internet offers our community, we must remember that it is an open space and we are ultimately in charge of what happens. We should be inviting to those who truly want to learn our craft, while maintaining our secrets. We must also be active as role models. For example, a friend of mine was interested in magic and was bragging about how he had learned things off of youtube. It took a long while, but I eventually convinced him that he needed to stop and start learning the correct way. This isn't possible with everyone, but we can try our best to limit the impact of exposure by being present and helpful.

Adam
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Great contest idea Morgan. I've actually gotten into debates on this very topics many times over the years.

For me, the internet has helped magic. There are pro and cons, and many of each! Though in the end, I think the pros outweigh the cons.

Obviously there is a large problem with torrents and the like. Besides hurting the actual creator and publisher, it allows a lot of layman to just google how to do an effect. It also leads to many youtube videos of under-practiced magicians poorly performing and thus revealing effects. My biggest problem with the internet and magic isn't this though, it is the mass production of junk effects and praying on the ones new to the art. So many times I stumble across poorly developed effects, with low production value, no accreditation, and no real magic value at a high price. When I first started in the art, the best part was the tri-yearly trips to the magic shop located an hour or so away from my dinky little home town. It was so much more.. magical than buying effects online. It still doesn't feel the same. I miss being able to go into a shop and really discuss the effects and decide what to purchase. Now its hard to do that cause most brick and mortar stores don't carry as much. The only real chance is when a convention is around once or twice a year. The internet also gave birth to digital downloads and the like. With all the videos, no one is using books anymore. And the greatest stuff is in the old books! I have books I've been collecting since I can remember and every time I reread them I come across a new gem. Weather it be rope, card, coin or stage. There is so much good information. There are good videos that help because you can see better, but for the real magician, books are everything. One book can contain as much as 20 DVDs contains and for much less price.

That all being said, there are pros to the internet. Those cheap bad effects that get marketed to the freshman magicians? After they buy those they start to really pay attention and research not to get duped into that again. It leads them to the correct places like the Café to discuss, or the best of the best, books. The internet does allow those that aren't in close proximity to a magic store to be involved and stay up to date with the art. Besides all that, it also increases the exposure and brings new faces into the art. If someone goes online to learn how david blaine levitates, they will find it. In 30 seconds. BUT, they will probably find more than that as well, and hopefully ponder how more magic is accomplished leading them down a road to eventually realize that they too can do this with a little practice.

If someone really wants to learn how an effect is done, they will figure it out. They always could. By book or talking to people. The internet has just made it that much easier. But magic is now more present than ever. And that is because of the internet. If an illusion gets exposed online here or there, it just forces magicians to be on the edge and the top of their game, working on new and exciting illusions. Besides, most magicians don't directly use effects anyway, be it from a DVD or otherwise. They create their own. All of this, is much more a pro, than the cons, hence why I think the internet is generally helped magic.

Thanks again Morgan for being here this week and I look forward to see what you have coming out in the future. Adam and Jordan, great essays so far, and good luck!

~Andrew
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I feel that the internet has helped magic grow more than ever. Before, correspondence between experienced magi and novice magi, was through the mail or the occasional passing at a convention. With the use of the internet as a communication tool, the "stars" of magic are within grasp to help a guy or gal with vexing problems concerning effects or questions in general. The wall that separates, much like the 4th wall in theatre, is broken down. It is the job of both the teacher and student, if you will, to use this new channel of communication properly and respectfully. The broad network of magicians throughout the world can now be accessed at the fingertips.

With this strong positive comes the dregs.

Many people worry about exposure and piracy. Sure this is a big problem, but the nature of the beast. An old magic adage is "to keep an effect a secret, never show it". In truth, any magician worth his salt can usually figure out the method. The drama that the artist gives the effect is what makes it. Natural human curiosity makes a person to question how, but the master performer will overcome this and get the spectator to question why. The method is a tool and that is all. We use the tool in our role as people playing the part of magician. I feel that those who expose magic are the same as the guy who tries to knock down Santa, the Easter Bunny,or the Tooth Fairy. Despite these myth killers, the holidays still go on and many a quarter are still found under pillows.

The use of the web to learn is a great resource, but books should be the main staple in a magi's library. Many instant downloads are offered and this detracts from using actual books to learn for. Life has shown us that anything that you have to work for you will value more. Instant downloads are great for right then, but make sure you have a foundation in paper cuts from flipping page after page of the basic book. I value the experience of a "star" in magic when they can say "I got this from page 31 of Cards as Weapons by Ricky Jay" (yes I read books and this is a tongue in cheek reference to a very funny concept if you have the book you'll see why) vs. a "star" only known for one shot quick instant downloads of an effect. Is this going to help someone learn or is this just another jar of "snake oil"? That one effect could be the break through of the century....how'd did the artist arrive at this? What book did he read? Who was his teacher/advisor? If you can't answer those questions, then maybe you should rethink releasing the effect. Take a look toward Aaron Fisher, Lee Asher, Kranzo, Marlo, Malone etc. Many of the effects these gentleman have released or ideas that have escaped their minds are credited properly and the knowledge is given before the explanation of the moves.
Piracy is also a bane to magic, but only if we let it overwhelm us. Copying DVDs not only effects magic, the general public can catch movies playing in theaters before they make DVD. Oh, well stuff happens. What should really concern us is the blatant piracy of effects among made "stars" in magic. Releasing an a twist on an effect without proper crediting and permission has spread like wildfire. I remember when the debates were "well Vernon did it this way and came up with the idea" "NO! Marlo did it first" "Are you insane that is clearly and idea from Larry." This eventually trickled into the said effect having collaborators. Many effects released now are direct copies of past effects, only the name has changed. I won't single out effects and distributors, but PM me and I'll give you a couple that are quite shockingly blatant rip offs. The internet shouldn't be a tool used to copy a magician, but a tool to learn if someone else may have the same effect or idea. I'd rather be known as someone who creates and credits, than a pirate who steals.

The last hindrance that the web has is the growth of online magic distributors. The brick and mortar shops are falling away. Many are turning to distributing novelties and gags to supplement the downward spiral of magic sales. Support needs to be given back to these landmarks of childhood curiosity. It is so much easier to have an effect purchased and shipped to you than to hop in the car or bus and head to the local shop. The friendship and human interaction is lost. The individual advice on what effects to pursue and what books to read is lost. Hanging out and talking shop is lost. The early legends of magic reveled in hanging in the back room of magic shops. Would Vernon be so awesome had he not been allowed entry into the back rooms of the many New York shops that he left Canada to see? What of all the young magi that flocked to the Castle in the early days just sit and listen? Besides, who puts on many of the local conventions? Brick and mortar shops that's who. Who holds regular lectures for folk and caters to traveling magicians? Brick and mortar that is who. Who will get you to buy a copy of Expert Card Technique over the flashy new one effect DVD? The brick and mortar shop that's who. The local shop is fading and with it the knowledge that can be extracted just from stepping across the threshold.

Over all the internet, just like any tool, can be wrongly and overly used. We should be responsible so that our art will have stronger roots in knowledge, theory, and history. We should stop trying to use it as a tool to make our wallets fat, skipping the learning process to get to the "money shot" too quickly, and as an avoidance to our local shops. We should offer to our peers and the public, pages and spaces to make the roots of magic take hold of our inner psyche. Get past the 'how'd he do that" and more into the "why'd he do that". Sure you should sale your wares, but be more conscious of what you are selling.Let's be adults and help spread the knowledge....."knowledge is power", "now you know and knowing is half the battle).
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Mike Maturen
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Is the rise of magic on the internet having a positive or negative effect on the art and craft that we all love? My answer, like all the others thus far, is "BOTH". I started doing magic (and earning money at it) at the age of 9. I continued through the beginning of my college years, when life got busy. I kept my hands in magic a little, but only sporadically...just enough to keep my interest burning.

Having access to magic discussions, online shops and YouTube videos to see effects performed helped to spark my interest in getting more serious about my craft. Over the past two years or so, I have been performing more, and learning at a pace that I previously could never have imagined.

On the negative side, folks putting videos on YouTube expososing the secrets of magic has taken away some of the wonder that lay people experience when they witness magic done well. Doug Henning used to talk about that sense of wonder and how it was fading away. He wanted to bring it back...and he did. Many times after performing an effect, he looked as surprised as his audience!

In a tribute to Henning's sense of wonder, I have called my production company "World of Wonder Magic", and my magic manufacturing and distribution company WoW! Magic.

But, as others have stated, one could ALWAYS find out how many effects were accomplished through books and, sadly, our friend the Masked Magician on TV.

Being able to chat with the great of magic such as Harry Lorayne and Morgan Strebler (yes...that WAS a blatant suck-up!) is a great benefit to those of us who have not yet hit the pinnacle of our careers. This, to me, washes out the negatives.

Now, how can we tame this beast called the internet and use it for good? Simple. Make sure that what WE, the magic community, post on the internet is high quality stuff. Making a video of a trick we just got the day before and posting it is NOT acceptable. Only smooth, polished routines should be posted by those who truly care for this craft. The same can be said for our websites and facebook pages. High quality makes people want to see more. We will all get more gigs and keep magic on the pedastal on which it belongs if we work together as a community to present a great product.

And THAT is the beauty of the Magic Café...real magicians helping real magicians improve in their craft.
Mike Maturen
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Quote:
On 2011-03-27 19:43, Morgan Strebler wrote:
Do you think the internet has helped or hurt magic, and what can we as magicians do to elevate our art, with this powerful tool? The best answer wins a free Molten!

Here is the effect if you don't know what it is....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnURT4Sk3Bw


VERY cool effect, by the way!
Mike Maturen
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Mr. Woolery
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Without having a much longer perspective than I actually have, it is hard to really give a well-considered answer. However, from a personal perspective, I'd like to share a few thoughts.

I first got interested in performing magic because I was volunteering at my children's school. I didn't want to be a pro, I didn't want to put together an act, I just wanted to share some fun with the kids. I started looking for magic tricks on the internet and that's where I learned about the concept of exposure being a bad thing. I found some rather lame simple tricks and discarded them. I found more shops than you can shake a stick at and didn't order from any of them.

I also found the address of a brick and mortar shop in Tucson, AZ. Williams Magic. I have family in Tucson and we visit there annually. So, I dropped by the shop and bought several self-working tricks, ignored some very good advice from the owner behind the counter, and started playing around with some magic tricks.

Since that time, I have never aspired to become a professional, but I have tried to learn to be a "real" magician. Lately a lot of what I think about is more focused on presenting an effect than on learning the secret. In this aspect, the internet has been very helpful. I love to watch cups and balls. I will watch one routine after another for an hour or more. I have a much better sense of how to construct a routine from watching some very good performers do some very good routines.

In that way, the internet has been a real benefit.

At the same time, I have not really finalized a decent cups and balls routine for myself because I find that I am in a paralysis of analysis. By having so many examples of good approaches, I find it is very difficult to find my own approach. Really, it might be better to only have one or two really good performances to see and a book with the basic moves and be forced to construct my own without the constraint of trying not to look like Lance Burton, Tommy Wonder, Michael Vincent, or Al Schneider. The proliferation of examples actually seems to be hindering me from developing my own direction at the same time that it inspires me to look for it.

I've heard folks talk about buskers who are "Gazzo clones" and I'm sure plenty of people have performed tricks exactly as they learned the patter from videos. This does not really do anything for magic except spread it around. If you can make an effect personal, that's a better way to go.

This may seem silly, but I do have a real example of working in more ignorance being a good thing. When I put together a rope routine to share with kids, I had a book with a few simple rope tricks and no presentation at all. I came up with a premise and a presentation to string the simple tricks into a routine and I've never seen another one like it. It isn't profound, but it gets good reactions from kids, tells a story and approaches the kids with concepts they can understand. (I'll share the story and effects if anyone wants them, but only if you don't think my ideas will hinder your own approach to magic.)

I suspect the original question has more to do with exposure than with what I'm talking about. I don't like the exposure now that I've been busted once by a kid who saw how a trick was done on YouTube. I don't like it at all. But at the same time, I have to say it motivates me to look for classics more. Cups and balls is a classic trick and has been explained and exposed since the 16th century. You can get kid versions in the dollar stores. However, a competent routine will still be magical and full of surprise as much because the people watching have some idea of how it is done and never manage to catch the performer doing it as anything else. We all know the performer is sneaking the balls back under the cups, but the fact that we can't catch him at it makes it magic. And when the balls become something else, that's magic too. No amount of exposure has yet managed to destroy this classic. However, when you have something that is really a one-routine trick, that's a different story. Cardtoon is a really good card trick. I love it. And once it is exposed, there's not really any way to rescue it. And that's a crying shame.

In the end, I can only say what the effect of the internet has been on magic for me.

Positive:
-I found my first magic shop and the internet actually pushed me in the direction of a real store.
-I can see ideas and tricks and directions and presentations that I never could have seen without the internet.
-I can share ideas on the Café and discuss things with professional magicians that I would not have known about without the internet.

Negative:
-I am not forced to think creatively and I find it hard to do so just because of seeing so many approaches to a routine so I get lazy.
-Some really great tricks have been exposed and that can harm the creators of the tricks as well as performers.
-Presentations can get washed out and end up looking like a clone of one or another popular perfomer who has his stuff on the internet.

-Patrick
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The internet has certainly helped magic. It has been used as a tool for more experienced magicians to help out people just getting started in magic. It has also been used to help spread ideas for how to better perform magic. In addition to this, it provides a way for magicians to give tips to each other on different difficulties they might cross in performing magic.

As to whether it has hurt magic; I think the major issue/concern magicians have with the internet harming magic is exposure. Exposure has become an issue because people can now look up on the internet how certain tricks are done, or at least certain secrets behind different effects. I think a great deal of this problem may actually be in the performance of magic. I think that sometimes magicians don't entertain their audiences properly, and instead provoke their audiences to look up the secrets behind effects.

I think that often times when magicians perform they, even in an attempt to entertain their audiences, essentially tease the audiences that they don't know what the secret is, maybe saying something along the lines of, "You'll never figure out how this one is done." Even when such a remark is made in an attempt to entertain the audiences, I think it often suggests to the audiences that the secret is something special. As magicians, I think we could agree that most explanations behind how effects work are actually rather boring, or at least not as fun as the effects appear, but I think audiences generally suppose, at least initially, that the explanations behind effects must be quite amazing. I think this is further suggested when a performer points out specifically that his audience doesn't know how something is done.

So I think the internet may have hurt magic a little bit, but that it can be made up for with better performances.

I think that we can elevate our art with the internet by using it to connect with other magicians so that we can exchange ideas, and so that experienced magicians can help out beginner magicians. We could also use the internet by sending links of videos to our friends of GOOD performances of magic, that they might not be able to see in person.


-Benjamin
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Quote:
Do you think the internet has helped or hurt magic?


The internet as a medium of communication has profoundly affected the art of magic. It has made magic more accessible: secrets and methods, props, even whole routines are available within a few clicks. Communication between magicians is so much easier, fostering the pollination of new ideas between magic who would otherwise never meet, and the mentoring of the isolated and struggling new performer. Sharing video makes reviews of effects and performances inexpensive and quick, enabling quantum leaps of improvement.

The dark side of this force, though, is that it has removed the main barrier that otherwise stood between the casual and the dedicated: the exertion of extra effort to dig, to learn, to seek out, to ponder and absorb. Why make any effort at all? A few words in a search box and you have all the magic you want! YouTube, whole routines verbatim, secrets guarded for years, even an entire show-in-a-box ("Buy it today and perform it tomorrow!!") - it's all right there with little or no effort.

And all of this has two very horrendous side effects: (1) the loss of the brick-and-mortar magic shop, and (2) the proliferation of the "guy with tricks" who has no clue what it means to artistically perform. And becuse the "guy with tricks" doesn't have to walk into a gathering of people with the weight of years of experience to evaluate skills, provoke sincerity, and give needed guideance, he'll never know that he's performing drivel instead of art.

One segment of the internet culture is "share everything - nothing private". And so our best and most creative minds in magic are constantly robbed of years of artistic labor by schmucks with a wifi connection and no appreciation for the craft or the person that makes our art magical.

I'd be lying of I didn't admit to using the internet - including all that really shouldn't be out there - to my best advantage. I buy online, I watch YouTube, I search for explanations. I can say that perhaps if there were more local stores, I would have to do that. But really, at the bottom of it all, I'm not much different than those who put the content out there.

And that may be the greatest harm the internet has done to us.

Quote:
What can we as magicians do to elevate our art with this powerful tool?


On the plus side of the balance, I can make sure that anything published with my name on it is pure craft. I can't do anything about what "they" publish, but I can make sure the difference between junk and art is obvious.

I can give my time and attention to asking serious questions and growing my abilities, so I can in turn help those who are coming up behind me.

And I can weigh down the lower belly of the balance by screaming bloody murder when I find junk and rip-offs for sale. And express my displeasure at the cheap-thrill videos of attention-starve juveniles.

The internet is here, and it is what it is. Using it to further great magic may be like using a chainsaw to carve great art: I've seen it done, but it's not for the casual user. Unfortunately, anyone can get their hands on one. We can only make sure the difference between us and them is obvious and striking.

Ed
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WOW There are a lot of great thought provoking answers here! This is going to be a hard contest to judge! I may have to give away more than one. LOL
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I agree, great answers so far! Forgot to thank you for this opportunity and say how great it looks - so just adding that now. I think we'd be alright with more than one being given away Smile
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Quote:
On 2011-03-28 21:36, Morgan Strebler wrote:
WOW There are a lot of great thought provoking answers here! This is going to be a hard contest to judge! I may have to give away more than one. LOL


That won't bother any of us, I am sure! Let's just call it a tie and send everyone a copy!
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On 2011-03-28 23:27, worldofwondermagic wrote:

That won't bother any of us, I am sure! Let's just call it a tie and send everyone a copy!


I approve! But seriously everyone, you've all given some fantastic answers. Thank you for such a great prompt Morgan!

-Jordan
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Morgan... Great question. I just deleted a lengthy post because I didn't want everyone to have to read all of those words since my thoughts can be summed up pretty simply...

The internet is really just a big fat magnifier of all of the good things and bad things that were already happening in magic... There is more sharing and an explosion of creative ideas and thoughts because of the increased connectivity and synergy the internet has created. It is easier to find opportunities and connect with others from around the world. For goodness sake, it is possible to session with a master teacher from halfway around the world via web-cam. That is an amazing and powerful tool for the good! Folks who do not live close to a brick and mortar shop now have access to a myriad of opportunities. The cost of magic has been driven down due to this increased access and that is a good thing.

There are also those who expose our secrets and things like YouTube make that exposure happen on a much larger scale. Be it through poor technique or malicious intent, the internet has provided those negative aspects a much larger scope. The internet also allows pretty much anyone to create and market their own effect. Sometimes these effects are garbage and some times, they are duplicates of existing material and that is a terrible thing for our art. The internet has also blown the scope of piracy and theft of magic through the roof. There were always folks who would "share" their stuff... duplicate tapes or photocopy books. I had an opportunity to see Eric Mead speak on the era of piracy and the internet and he spoke very eloquently on how the internet has impacted magic and possibly prompted some great magicians to hold back some great material to prevent it being stolen!

There are some "old dogs" in our world who would say that the internet has created an army of magicians who have not "paid their dues" or who are learning everything the wrong way... I think there have always been "old dogs" who don't like the new ideas or the way magic is headed. I am sure Doug Henning created all kinds of chatter in the Magic Circles. David Blaine got peoples underpants all twisted when he took magic off the stage and into the streets... and it was AMAZING. I don't think the internet is hurting or helping our beloved magic. As always, it is people who hurt or help our cherished art. Your question is "what can we as magicians do to elevate our art?" I think that the answer is in the question itself... We elevate our are by being ethical and just. We can embrace new ideas while honoring and respecting all that came before. We can help educate and help those who may be using the internet to do harm to magic learn that there is a better way. I have seen situations where specific vendos who were selling knock-offs were boycotted based upon word spreading through the community. We can use the internet to mentor and teach. The internet has so much power to archive and collect information.

Dang... that was still a lot of words. Thanks for everything you are doing!
The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The March 2011 entrée: Morgan Strebler » » Question for FREE Molten » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes)
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