felix's blog

Neun Thesen zur Remix-Kultur

Heute ist mein umfangreiches Essay zur Remix-Kultur bei irights.info online gegangen. Es berührt viele Themen, die auch die Digitale Allmend behandelt.

Der Remix ist die kulturelle Form der Netzwerkgesellschaft. Felix Stalder beleuchtet in neun Thesen medienhistorische, technologische, politische, rechtliche, kulturtheorische, soziale und ökonomische Dynamiken, die den Aufstieg und die aktuelle Entwicklung des Remix prägen. In den Konflikten, die damit verbunden sind, spiegelt sich die Tiefe des aktuellen gesellschaftlichen Wandels.

Ganzes Essay als PDF (600 kb)

Update (Nov. 2009): Here is a pretty extensive summary of the paper in english.

semiotic subversion in china


CNN 报道 caonima 草泥马

youtube's failure to generate substantial income

The register has a story on an analyst's estimate (whatever that's worth these days) that youtube will be losing close to half a billion $ this year. They take this as an indication that the ad model is not working. After discussing two reasons why this might be the case -- either Google doesn't know how to do it (unlikely) or the model is fundamentally broken (more likely) -- they come up with an option for Google to make money out of youtube.

Of course, there's a third option for YouTube. Its parent company - whoever that may be - may want to cross-subsidize the operation in the hope that will drive traffic elsewhere on the site. Don't laugh - that's exactly what Google's new music service in China does. Google China pays rightsholders much more than 0.22p per song - about ten times as much, according to industry estimates. As Baidu has shown, music drives enormous traffic to the rest of the operation.

See also Ars Technica's article on the same subject.

Update (14.04.): On the other hand, artists are demanding that Youtube increases it's payment to them.

Update II (15.04). A detailed breakdown of revenue and costs. The most interesting figure is the amount given to independent creators through it's revenue sharing program.

Revenue share: If you provide videos to Google and join its revenue sharing program, then you get a commission if ads are shown alongside your content. Credit Suisse estimates that YouTube will "share" away $24 million this year -- $66,000 per day.

Tanda Foundation: community funding for culture

Tanda Foundation is an experimental and informal not for profit held and run by its users. We aim to found new ways and means to support creative production, create a community interested in build a public fund via micro-donations and decide our own cultural agenda. The Foundation aims to be an accountable platform of funding for its users, where the process of application, reviewing, voting, and collection of funds is accesible to all its Patrons and Candidates.

The Foundation relies on 2.0 infrastucture to exist with minimal costs and labor. Think in an automatic not-for-profit.

For more information about our Grant 2.0 system, please visit our F.A.Q. section. Also visit the Desk dedicated to the administration, view the Works section and browse the documentation about the mechanisms used to collect funds.

Mininova Helps Artists to Monetize Torrents

A new article over at TorrentFreak indicates, once again, that free downloads and 'for-sale' distribution model might well co-exist, even if it's much too early to tell if this model is doing to be stable. They write:

Mininova, one of the largest BitTorrent sites on the Internet, will launch a new feature today that will help artists, labels and other content producers to generate revenue. The Dutch record label ‘Beep! Beep!’ is one of the first to try the new feature, which allows content producers to add ’shopping links’ to their free torrents.

The Big Sort

Another book for my reading list. Bill Bishop: The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart. 2008. http://www.thebigsort.com

The Wall Street Journal: 'Like-Minded, Living Nearby' (April 22, 2008)

The more diverse America becomes, the more homogeneous it becomes.

No, that's not a misprint; it is the thesis of "The Big Sort," Bill Bishop's rich and challenging book about the ways in which the citizens of this country have, in the past generation, rearranged themselves into discrete enclaves that have little to say to one another and little incentive to bother trying. "As Americans have moved over the past three decades," Mr. Bishop proclaims, "they have clustered in communities of sameness, among people with similar ways of life, beliefs and in the end, politics."

It is an idea that has all but obsessed Mr. Bishop since he began thinking about it years ago in his hometown of Austin, Texas. In his Austin neighborhood, he observed, there were virtually no Republicans. In another community of similar size nearby there were very few Democrats. Thirty years earlier, he was willing to bet, nothing like that uniformity would have been possible. Values, ideology and partisanship would have mingled more variously in even the most compact neighborhood, ward or district.

Ups and downs Economic and cultural effects of file sharing on music, film and games

On Februry 18, a report commissioned by the ministry of Economic Affairs, the Justice Department and the ministry of Education Culture and Science called "Ups and downs Economic and cultural effects of file sharing on music, film and games" was released. A few days ago, the official English translation was released as well.

The research shows that the economic implications of file sharing for welfare in the Netherlands are strongly positive in the short and long terms. File sharing provides consumers with access to a broad range of cultural products, which typically raises welfare. Conversely, the practice is believed to result in a decline in sales of CDs, DVDs and games.

Determining the impact of unlicensed downloading on the purchase of paid content is a tricky exercise. In the music industry, one track downloaded does not imply one less track sold. Many music sharers would not buy as many CDs at today’s prices if downloading were no longer possible, either because they cannot afford it or because they have other budgetary priorities: they lack purchasing power. At the same time, we see that many people download tracks to get to know new music (sampling) and eventually buy the CD if they like it. To the extent that file sharing does result in a decline in sales (substitution), it usually entails a transfer of welfare from producers to consumers. With estimated welfare gains accruing to consumers totalling around €200 million a year in the Netherlands, music producers and publishers suffer turnover losses of at most €100 million a year. These calculations are necessarily based on several assumptions and contain uncertainties as many of the underlying data are not precisely known. Whereas comparable figures cannot be provided for the film and games industries, they follow a similar logic.

AP alleges copyright infringement of Obama image


NEW YORK (AP, 04.02.2009) — On buttons, posters and Web sites, the image was everywhere during last year's presidential campaign: a pensive Barack Obama looking upward, as if to the future, splashed in a Warholesque red, white and blue and underlined with the caption HOPE.

Designed by Shepard Fairey, a Los-Angeles based street artist, the image has led to sales of hundreds of thousands of posters and stickers, and has become so much in demand that copies signed by Fairey have been purchased for thousands of dollars on eBay.

The image, Fairey has acknowledged, is based on an Associated Press photograph, taken in April 2006 by Mannie Garcia on assignment for the AP at the National Press Club in Washington.

The AP says it owns the copyright, and wants credit and compensation. Fairey disagrees.

The article quotes competing opinions about whether this is fair use or not, with all the usual hair splitting.

There's an interview with Fairey where talks about all the different influences that guided his transformation of the image and how other people worked on his stuff. Which makes the fair use discussion even more absurd.

IRIE – International Review of Information Ethics: Search Engines

Nothing new, in fact, already more than 3 years old, but still worth noting. All essays are available online.

The third edition of the ‘IRIE – International Review of Information Ethics’ (06/2005) and the first under its new title after having been renamed from IJIE (due to a name similarity with another infoethics journal) is dedicated to the focal subject “Search Engines”.

In his essay “Funktionen, Probleme und Regulierung von Suchmaschinen im Internet (Function, Problems, and Regulation of Search Engines in the Internet – an extended abstract in English is enclosed)”, Christoph Neuberger reports on this debate in Germany as well as on the most recent results of the communication sciences. Furthermore, we publish an English translation of the “Code of Conduct” which also was developed in the context of the already mentioned research project. Important aspects like “Ethical and Political Issues in Search Engines” (Hinman), the necessity of the “Symmetry in Confidence” in search engines (Rieder), search engines and their relation to the “Ethical subject” (Blanke) and finally the “Problem of Privacy in Public” (Tavani) are treated by these four English contributions.

The issue is supplemented by two articles that do not fall under the focus of ‘search engines’ but complement it in one or the other way. Thomas Hoeren argues in ‘Laws, Ethics and Electronic Commerce’ that the Internet is leading to a dematerialization, deterritorialization, extemporalisation and depersonalisation of law and thereby the legal system loses its traditional (Roman law) roots (person, space, time). Secondly, the ‘Attitudes of UK Librarians and Librarianship Students to Ethical Issues’ have been empirically examined by Kevin Ball and Charles Oppenheim.

Commons: A rough definition

Last week, I spent a few days at a small but intense workshop where we were looking at a the political dimensions of various forms of commons. The discussions were open and far ranging. I tried to distill some of these into a definition of commons that tries to take its various dimensions into considerations and separates structural from political issues. Far from perfect....

COMMONS, A DEFINITION

A commons is a resource held as joint property by a community. Thus, it is distinct from private property (held by natural or legal persons) or public property (held by the state). Typical for commons is that the management of the resource is oriented towards use-value for its members, rather than towards exchange-value within society at large. The separation between producers and consumers is minimized. Thus, commons are also distinct from other forms of collective ownership (such as co-operatives) that produce for the market.

All commons are social institutions, they depend on a community to create and maintain it. A resource that is freely available to all but not managed in a meaningful way by a self-aware community (e.g., the fish in the open sea) are not a commons. Like in all communities, questions of membership (boundaries) and internal decision-making are subject to ongoing, more or less conflictual, negotiations.

It is these questions that define the political quality of the commons, which can serve as defensive mechanism against market encroachment (e.g., in the case of indigenous commons), as a project of exclusion (e.g., in far-right conceptions of the body national) or as the basis of open cooperation (e.g., in the case of Free and Open Source Software).