Computing technology has finally crossed the ultimate frontier, fulfilled its promise to change humanity for the better, confirmed its raison d’etre, please insert your own over-the-top superlatives here.

I speak, of course, of The Air Guitar T-Shirt. According to Ananova.com, the shirt has motion sensors that detect the flailing of would-be metalheads and transmits it to a computer, which interprets it as a Hendrix-calibre guitar virtuosity. One of the boffins responsible lauded the fact that the shirt is a real-time virtual instrument that allows people to make music despite the fact they have no musical skills, knowledge, training, drive, persistence, etc. And also the fact that they’re skinny, long-haired wannabes who are starved for attention and make karaoke addicts look positively suave in comparison. I’m sorry, did I type that out loud?

The Philistines among you may dismiss this as elitism. Why, you might ask, should music-making belong only to the realm of the trained and talented? Shouldn’t it be democratic, accessible to all, so everyone can contribute to making the world a more musical place?

I’ll tell you why, Jim.

When computer technology has opened the doors for the rank amateur to perform tasks that used to take a trained professional, the art has inevitably suffered.

It happened to graphic design with the creation of easy-to-use WYSIWYG tools. Now, the office drone can do a job that used to be the purview of long-trained typographers, artists and photo editors. Those tools, in the hands of those who know what they’re doing, allow graphic design of a standard not even contemplated a few years ago. Unfortunately, it’s also given us examples of atrocious design we’d never seen before, with no regard for colour palette, hyphenation, type compatibility and ACTUAL PROPER SPELLING.

Need another example? The ease-of-use of Web design and blogging tools makes it possible for everyone to be a publisher. There are people who should not be publishers. I won’t go into detail – that would be self-serving – but three words: ACTUAL PROPER SPELLING.

Is music set to go down the same road to dilution as these other noble trades? Or will the next Hendrix play a T-shirt? What do YOU think, Jim?

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