It’s a great time to be alive

by Russ Roberts on April 12, 2011

in Beautiful, Music

This wouldn’t have been imaginable fifteen years ago as something creative people could do. We are just beginning to tap the extraordinary potential for human creativity and how we can use the internet to harness that creativity. This is stunning both in concept and execution. Beautiful.

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Bill April 13, 2011 at 12:24 am


This is unbelievably amazing and thought provoking.

Rob April 13, 2011 at 1:02 am

How could anyone who watches this continue to cling to the fallacy that the present represents but a decline from some golden era? Sadly, eclipsing the beauty of the video is the growing realization that those whom we have allowed into government are perfectly willing to throw this all away as they squabble over the deck chairs on our fiscal Titanic.

John V April 13, 2011 at 10:14 am

Because at almost any given time, people are far more critical and observant of their own reality than the reality of times gone by.

Peter April 13, 2011 at 7:24 am

I still want to be the next member of Depeche Mode

Daniel Kuehn April 13, 2011 at 7:40 am

Just beginning to tap the extraordinary potential for human creativity, and the potential for human community. That’s one of the things that’s impressed me most about blogging, for example. It’s not simply a creative outlet – it creates new communities (which are themselves, of course, essential for creativity). The regular commenters on my blog are in South Africa, California, Florida, and India. It’s a conversation that simply couldn’t happen without the internet and because it’s a regularly held conversation, it’s become a sort of community of its own.

Krishnan April 13, 2011 at 8:06 am

Stunning and beautiful and amazing and … It is a reminder that we humans can do anything we put our minds to … there is nothing too difficult to solve because we can learn from each other … the world is indeed getting better and better – life as we know it will get better and better … Truly an amazing time to live

jhodapp April 13, 2011 at 8:33 am

Stunning music. Unbelievable mixing job of all of those YouTube videos. If I hadn’t been told that these choir members did not sing in the same location I couldn’t have deciphered that. What a tremendous imagery of what Hayek was all about, the loose collection of distributed people acting “together” for the betterment of those who listen to it. None of them could have known the end result and yet, the end result is truly amazing.

indianajim April 13, 2011 at 9:55 am

I wonder how others characterize this: To me it is a blend of emergence that responded to an offer to voluntarily participate in an intelligent and creative design. It would be sad should anyone see this as an invalidation of the Hayek’s critique of imposed design by centralized authority.

vidyohs April 13, 2011 at 9:58 am

Beautiful, thanks Russ.

It reminds me of this:

In the context of the current debate regarding the individual Vs the collective, in my opinion this confirms the individual.

As always any group action depends upon the voluntary contribution of the individual from conception to completion. Voluntary individuals put their heart and soul into the project, compelled individuals (dismissed as numbers) put as little in as they can get away with and escape disfavor or punishment.

indianajim April 13, 2011 at 10:15 am


Bill April 13, 2011 at 11:58 am

I was thinking the same thing. What a perfect complement to Don’s earlier post on individualism.

Nemoknada April 13, 2011 at 11:59 am

“As always any group action depends upon the voluntary contribution of the individual from conception to completion.”

And yet, there’s that conductor’s video, COMPELLING all of these singers who choose to sing to use HIS tempo, not theirs. No one can be forced, for example, to go into business, but once IN business, one must follow the conductor, or at least, so this video suggests.

There is a difference between being told what to do and CHOOSING to do as one is told in service of a collective goal. The latter entails no loss of liberty properly understood, and so raises the question of how governmental regulation can be condemned merely because it is government regulation, as opposed to because it is stupid or venal in a particular context.

vidyohs April 13, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Are you sure you live in the same universe of reason that the rest of us do?

And yet, there’s that conductor’s video, COMPELLING all of these singers who choose to sing to use HIS tempo, not theirs.”

Compulsion is the most remote factor in that musical video creation, it is not just remote, it is non-existent.

Richard Stands April 13, 2011 at 10:04 am

Incredible and moving indeed. Few would have foreseen this only a few years ago. Imagine what we’re unable to foresee today.

Thank you Dr. Roberts. Gave my day a whole new tone.

Michael April 13, 2011 at 10:11 am

Very inspiring!
And now, here’s Beaker’s version of the same thing:

Nemoknada April 13, 2011 at 11:53 am

Thank you.

Douglass Holmes April 13, 2011 at 12:45 pm

This should remind us that the problems we face will be solved or made solvable by technology not yet imagined. If, 15 years ago, someone had suggested that beautiful music could be performed by a choir of people from all over the world, using YouTube, I’m sure I would have said, “What’s YouTube?” If they had tried to explain to me what YouTube is, I would have explained to them the difficulty of building an Internet with the capacity required for video. You see, I was an expert in telecommunications and I helped plan a small part of the data infrastructure required for the Internet. So, when I hear other experts talk about what the future holds, I’m skeptical, especially if they ignore the potential for innovation.
Thanks, Russ. That was inspiring.
So much for “dismal science.”

Aaron April 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm

This reminds me of when I taught a class for theater students on the business side of art in 1995. I had a friend of mine come in, a real visionary who was at the time in the music industry, to talk about advances in technology in music. And at that time he said, “10 or 15 years from now we’ll probably have a single device that clips to our belt or fits in our pocket, and on it you will be able to make phone calls, check electronic mail, record videos, play and make music and games, and do all kinds of other things.” No one in the room believed him.

Don April 13, 2011 at 5:11 pm

You know, I’ve worked in the Internet industry for almost 20 years. Every once in a while, I see something that makes me step back from the forest of fiber optic cables and IP addresses and routers and say, “Wow! I knew what I’ve been doing was important, but I never imagined this.”

I just had one of those moments.

Thank you for pointing that out Russ, and thanks to Mr. Whitacre and his entire choir for giving me that moment.

jim April 13, 2011 at 6:12 pm

World Class

Should be sent to every Junior and Senior High school in North America as an example of what can be…!!

Thank you…

SaulOhio April 13, 2011 at 7:31 pm


The ironic thing is that those who build strawman arguments against individualism would use this as evidence that we are social beings, not individuals. They fail to understand how these many INDIVIDUALS act together out of individual choice, all for their own reasons. Societies are built of and by individuals.

Their idea of community would destroy that.

The video of “Sleep” shows beautifully how a sense of community can span international borders. Each of those spheres represents a different country.

Eric Hammer April 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Wow, that was mind blowing. I actually found it difficult to sit through the last half for wanting so badly to send the link to some of my vocally endowed friends. As amazing as it was for me, surely they will love it more, and might even be a part of the next one.

Aside from the amazing musical aspects, it really does show how humans work together as individuals to create great things. So many people taking the time to do their own part just right so that the whole will be great. Each face showing a person who just wants to be part of something great, entirely unaware of anyone else’s wants or needs, or even who else would be involved beyond the conductor. Yet their shared desire lead them all to work very hard to create their respective videos, which someone else (who didn’t know any of the people beyond a face, a name and a voice) used to create one solid unified video that boggles the mind.

I don’t say this often, but humans are awesome.

John Galt April 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Great and inspiring. Why can’t this happen on radio stations, television stations, newspapers, magazines as well. Nothing bad has happened with the internet freedoms that have been allowed, why can’t there be spontaneous order in all other forms of media?

vikingvista April 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm

“Nothing bad has happened with the internet freedoms that have been allowed”

That’s why the FCC had to step in.

Patricia Zona April 14, 2011 at 8:06 pm

There are gifts that we all have been given– that help unite / bring together to heal the heart, restore our soul with inspiration that replenishes when we are weary and now gives renewed reason and purpose a tremendous joy that is shared–all through the gift of music. Isn’t it amazing the wonders that are accomplished, when united– bringing harmony so profound that we can finally break the barrier and feel deeply once more? So with deep gratitude and appreciation, “May our voices be heard in perfect harmony–united.”
Patti Zona

Bert April 14, 2011 at 8:19 pm

You have created a “family” all over the world. Your concept
is ingenious … truly inspired. Thank you for such a treat.

dan April 14, 2011 at 8:26 pm

I see and hear the history of men’s innovations, advancements, etc.,… A single idea that is built upon, over and over, or even just one idea within the product of another that gives us amazing creations. Man’s cabilities have yet to be realized, if they ever truly will be, as they may be limitless.

James Oswald April 15, 2011 at 9:10 am

Total change to measured GDP from this video being produced and watched: $0.

Aaron April 17, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Now, as a follow-up, I’d love to see what would happen if you got all those individuals into, say, a small stadium, to sing the piece live, together, for an audience. The effect would be just incandescent, I think.

But maybe the stirring thing about the video is that would be next to impossible on a practical level. The video creates an actual community among listeners and makers that would not be possible without the technology.

gramhenix April 20, 2011 at 2:14 am
LoRetta Archuleta April 22, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Truely amazing. So inspiring and uplifting. Genius and so wonderfully orchestrated.

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