Saturday, April 16, 2011

RIP Lessig RIP (Blog Assignment 12)

The documentary film, rip, was a film about America's seriously mismanaged and outdated copyright laws. It makes a clear point about the corruption within the media industry and produces several scenarios where copyright not only hinders creativity but also prevents scientific advancement. Lawrence Lessig, esteemed author and copyright activist, talks about several of the key concepts from the film in his book, Remix. Both the movie and Lessig discuss the inability to build upon the past artistic creations. The film uses the example of a man who 'perverts' Mickey Mouse by using the figure to other ends than those that the Disney Corporation wanted while they were basically ripping off works themselves in order to produce their classics. Lessig addresses the problem by using David Bowie, Harry Potter, and Star Wars fans as examples where anything the fans created wasn't attacked but rather taken from them to become the legal property of the artist that created the original. Another point that both the film and the book have in common is their push that the copyright laws are outdated and often come into conflict with the technologies of today. There is a subtle hint that both the documentary and Lessig believe in what the laws meant and that they should still exist but not to the extent that they are today; a reverting is necessary. Finally, a third point that is shared between the two is the fact that remixing and mashing-up music, films, and images takes just as much as, if not more effort than creating an 'original' work, especially when the new creation provides a wholly new context and series of sensations than the first version.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shared in a Commerce (Blog Assignment 11)

Lessig makes a bifurcated distinction between commercial economies and shared economies. Throughout his chapter in Remix, he makes it clear that both are a part of today's world and that neither is wrong but mixing them up can be dangerous. In Lessig's eyes, a commercial economy is one where the appropriate compensation for something, whether it is time spent or a product, is money. By this he means to say that it makes sense to use money in the transaction more than trade, barter, or plain good will. A shared economy is one where transactions are made free of money. Lessig strives to show that compensation is a mandate but it may not always be visible or noticeable, such as in instances of friendship, wiki edits, or 'pro bono' contributions. Basically, in a shared economy, money is rude. His dedication and driving home of this distinction between the two economies is intended to go back to his thesis for the book where, at current, remix culture is a shared economy and very rarely ask for compensation but the proprietary markets where these artists get their “paint,” (Lessig, p128) is a commercial one.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Picard Song (Blog Assignment 10)

This particular remix relates to Lawrence Lessig's Remix in several ways.  Lessig loosely identifies a remix as not just a singular production edited into different orders, repeats, or clips but as anything that utilizes edits, mash-ups, and multimedia coordination.  Therefore, this video of Captain Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation is considered a remix since it pulls clips, audio, and conception from various episodes and reorders them and re-times them.  The overall video hasn't changed the essence of who this character is but rather has singled out and driven home his entity as described by Lessig when discussing George W. Bush and Tony Blair's Read My Lips remix.  Lessig explains that remixes can be powerful tools that, in some cases, better deliver the point of an argument than the original piece was able to.  In this instance, the remix comically made it obvious that Captain Picard uses the phrases, “Engage!” and “Make it so!” in almost every episode of the seven seasons that the show aired.  The juxtaposition of the clips with the tuned “lyrics” (quotes from Picard, not necessarily sung during the episodes) produced the identity of Picard as a charismatic, flamboyant, and constantly overwhelmed individual; a distinction that most Trekies would argue.  Lessig also notes that creating a remix can be just as complicated as filming “original” footage, writing “original” music, etc.  and that remixes tend to receive their power and recognition because audiences can identify with them right from the start.  Finally, this remix was discovered on YouTube, the medium in which Lessig found his buddies' clips from the Academy Awards Ceremony.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Cultural Infringement (Blog Assignment 9)

Lawrence Lessig's Remix begins with an introduction that describes the issues surrounding contemporary Copyright Law within the United States and its treaty nations. He makes it clear that he wishes to cover the ideologies behind infringement pertaining to:
  • incidental, non-commercial recording of other artists' work
  • the recreating copyright protected works in public without permission
  • amassing, assimilating, and distorting a multitude of previously published works into a new entity
  • the social, political, and economic maturity and responsibility of the currently protected artists and industries
Lessig next explains his views on cultural shifts using the bifurcation of “Read/Write” and “Read/Only” groupings. He identifies that these categories are borrowed from the rhetoric of computer programming and authorship. By “Read/Write,” or RW culture, Lessig means that the artist or creator takes from what s/he has experienced and builds a new based on hers/his dis/likes. “Read/Only,” or RO culture, loses the ability to create new works because there are many already produced selections from which an individual can choose to engage in. RW and RO (technologically referenced naming conventions) are important to Lessig's argument because he will address the issue of technology's influence on creativity and copyright infringement. His example of John Philip Sousa was to show the age of the copyright laws that deal with technologies and to help provide a basis for his argument of RW and RO cultures. Sousa was concerned that the phonograph would replace the instruments and knowledge of musical invention and that people would only listen to previously recorded works and renditions rather than making new ones.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Convergence, Describing the Path (Blog Assignment 6)

Jenkins, in his book's introduction, uses the term “convergence” to describe the movement of “new media” toward the future. Weinberger, author of Everything is Miscellaneous, explains the ways in which the “new media” work and how they affect our daily lives where as Jenkins' introduction tries to expound on why and where they came from. Jenkins starts off by defining convergence as a well rounded word that receives its power from the audience not the medium, as it initially suggests. The idea is that two technologies, having the relationship that one evolved from the other, collide and become conceptually inseparable. Jenkins uses the examples like newspapers and tv for news and tv and computers for viewing entertainment. Jenkins names Ithiel de Sola Pool as the “prophet of convergence,” (p10), and describes how Pool initiated the existential idea. The main point that Jenkins seems to be pushing, is that convergence is inevitable, and those who can see it coming or are at least prepared to flow with it will be the most successful as media continues to evolve.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Infinite Definitions Instantly (Blog Assignment 5)

The German philosopher Heidegger is quoted, “the meaning of a particular thing is enabled by the web of implicit meanings we call the world” on page 170 of Weinberger's Everything is Miscellaneous. This defines a very philosophical realization that we have to know everything in order to know one thing but also we must know one thing in order to know everything. In other words, we cannot define to an alien what a coffee cup is without having to detail what coffee is, where it comes from, the different styles of cups, the reason we drink coffee, etc. We implicitly, or subconsciously, know these things and therefore are able to just say “coffee cup” and be understood. There are thousands upon thousands of details we can go into when we talk about coffee and they might lead us into discussing other fields such as harvesting, roasting, and shipping; which are subjects of their own with thousands upon thousands of details to go into, which again, could lead us onto other topics. Looking at it in this way shows that knowledge is a web of tangled pieces of information that we internally sort on a whim. Like a computer database, subjects and categories can be organized according to what is being discussed. These subjects and categories are dynamic and yet still unique with subjects and categories to define each of them. The fluidity of the implicit knowledge is an example of Weinberger's third order of orders; or in my opinion a way more advanced order, an objective that computer programmers are working toward. Implicit knowledge is a primary stepping block for artificial intelligence, one that is still a futuristic endeavor.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Powerful Mess (Blog Assignment 4)

Weinberger used Chapter 5 (The Laws of the Jungle) of his book Everything is Miscellaneous to reinforce the notion that organization is good but makes it difficult or time consuming to locate desired information. Having total miscellany can make the aggregation of knowledge much faster so long as the chaos has been tagged. The tagging method of organizing data allows for a much broader and more accurate set of queries and gives the user control; where the filing system forces a strict vernacular upon the user and maintaining the creators' power. “In the real world, a leaf can hang from only one branch. In the first order of organization, there's no way around that limitation. In the second order, most cataloging systems have provisions for listing books under more than one heading, but the physicality of the second order still usually demands that one branch be picked as the primary one, and there is a limit on the number of secondary listings. In the third order, however, it's to our advantage to hang information from as many branches as possible,” (Weinberger, p103). This is expressed in O'Reilly's What is Web 2.0 when the article discusses its third point of “Data is the Next Intel Inside.” O'Reilly talks about hyperlinks and tagging which leads to a description of infinite possibilities by means of SQL database connections; a technical and involved way of defining Weinberger. O'Reilly, in his Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On, also talks about the ways the internet “learns” by incorporating the concept of database connections. He mentions that the more data gathered, the fewer the connections become thereby providing a significant increase in data retrieval speeds.