Kelly Slater, Surfing, and the End of an Era

My best friend and semi-professional humorist Conway Yao hipped me to this video of champion surfer Kelly Slater talking about his experiences as a kid learning how to surf. I've never surfed and I've never followed professional surfing, but something Slater said stood out to me (around 1:40). 

He says:
"I kind of liked the era I've grown up in because we didn't have the technology and the media we have now. Surfing could grow up in these little subcultures and there were very different styles and approaches, but now, if you see someone do a maneuver, you see it that day online."
Standardization and the cataloguing of everything are two of the major trends affecting just about everything in the digital era, but Slater comments on these trends this way:
"There's less of a mystery to it now. I think that idea of not having that was nice having growing up because it's nice to plant seeds and have your own thoughts about how it's going to grow—it's just about impossible to grow up that way now."
The operative word here is "mystery" — the notions of exploration, risk, and discovery that sustain artists (surfing is an art, right?) who're trying to not only express themselves, but also keep themselves engaged, i.e., not bored or idle or complacent. Slater's words here actually made me think of Richard Ford's The Sportswriter, in which the protagonist, a sportswriter who falls into a numbing depression following his son's death, speaks of the importance of maintaining a sense of "mystery" to stave off existential dread. Ford's protagonist gives this description of what he means by "mystery":
“A typical mystery would be traveling to Cleveland, a town you have never liked, meeting a beautiful girl, going for a lobster dinner during which you talk about an island off of Maine where you have been with former lovers and had terrific times, and which talking about now revivifies so much you run upstairs and woggle the bejesus out of each other. Next morning all is well. You fly off to another city, forget about the girl. But you also feel differently about Cleveland for the rest of your life, but can’t remember why” 
Mystery is related to excitement and change and surprise—it keeps you from losing momentum and from losing interest in the world, which is just about the beginning of the end. It's easy to forget, I think, that jazz and most music is an art with folklore and mystery, and that it's the folklore and the mystery part that makes the music exciting and continually fresh. YouTube tutorials, conservatories, and jazz education bring up the standard of young musicians now, but they can sometimes inadvertently push aside the mysterious aspects of the music: the ride cymbal pattern, which a friend of mine argues is the most mysterious rhythmic subject in the universe; or laying back; or putting the right amount of sharpness on a pitch to make it sound better than if it were perfectly in tune.

I think it's still better that the world is becoming more "open source," a phrase Aaron Parks used to explain his reasons for making his compositions from Invisible Cinema available to the world. I would say, though, that the approach to learning the music should be a mixture of wonder and mystery as well as surgical precision and academic rigor, if that's at all possible. Otherwise, I'd think that the diversity and the richness of musical personalities that older folks reminisce about when talking about the "golden age" of the music will be missing from future generations of musicians.