Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody is reputed to be the best book ever written on Web 2.0. By why the strange silence on questions of copyright, privacy and ownership? Felix Stalder delves beneath the slick prose and upbeat message.
Referring to his unauthorized use of material for his major "Histoire(s) du cinema" Jean Luc Godard said in an interview in 1996:
For me there's a difference between an extract and a quotation. If it's an extract, you have to pay, because you're taking advantage of something you have not done and you are more or less making business out of it. If it's a quotation--and it's more evident in my work that it's a quotation--then you don't have to pay.
Of course, copyright does not make this difference (yet). But this was mid 1990s, and times were different. The first two episodes in Godard's series, each of which lasts 50 minutes, have been shown on five separate state-funded European TV channels without any permission from the copyright holders. It's hard to imagine this happening today.
Before the Euro2008, Detlev Buck, a well-known German director, issued a call on Youtube to send in fan movies, hundreds of people responded, and now he has edited it down to 50 minutes which will be shown in selected cinemas in Germany. The whole thing is entirely non-commercial, the entry fee is €2,30 (which is less than one third of the normal price) and the proceeds will be donated to charitable orgs. It probably will also be posted to Youtube later on.
Which begs the question: is editing the new directing? In the age of information overload and remixing, the likely answer is yes.
Update: The film has been released on youtube.
Hadn't know this journal before.Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology
From the most recent issue:
This is an older text, from 2005, but it's still one of the best on the issue of the paradoxical relationship between the attempts to privatize knowledge and its inherent tendency to be social, because it's based on a shared language.
The gentrye are all round, on each side they are found,
Theire wisdom’s so profound, to cheat us of our ground
Stand up now, Diggers all.
The Diggers’ Song, Gerrard Winstanley & Leon Rosselson
Using the ideas of Gabriel Tarde, Ludwig Wittgenstein and George Herbert Mead, writer and critic Stephan Wright reflects on the question of how, in a capitalist knowledge economy, to prevent intellectual property from being commodified and knowledge from becoming increasingly privatized.
First Monday published my paper in its current edition. Below is the abstract, the full text is here
Digital communication is profoundly affecting the constitution of (civil) society by drastically lowering the costs to speak across time and space with individuals and groups of any size, and by producing abundant records of all activities conducted through these media. This is accelerating two contradictory trends. On the one hand, a new breed of social organizations based on principles of weak cooperation and peer production is sharply expanding the scope of what can be achieved by civil society. These are voluntary organizations, with flat hierarchies and trust-based principles. They are focused on producing commons-based resources rather than individual property. In general, they are transformative, not revolutionary, in character. This phenomenon is termed "bourgeois anarchism." On the other hand, the liberal state - in a crisis of legitimacy and under pressure from such new organizations, both peaceful (civil society) and violent (terrorism) - is reorganizing itself around an increasingly authoritarian core, expanding surveillance into the capillary system of society, overriding civil liberties and reducing democratic oversight in exchange for the promise of security. This phenomenon is termed "authoritarian democracy."
This article was first published in Italian, in the journal Millepiani. An earlier version was delivered as a talk (view stream presentation at Ars Electronica, 2007, and published in their catalogue under the title "Our new public life".
Hype Machine is a blog that aggregates music blogs and automatically generates playlists and let's you "spy" on what other people are doing on the blog.
Flickr, the popular photo sharing site owned by Yahoo, took down Dutch photographer Maarten Dors’ pictures of a Romanian teenage boy smoking a cigarette, arguing that it broke the site’s rules for appropriate photos. Dors says he didn’t intend to glorify smoking, but to document the living conditions in one of Eastern Europe’s less prosperous countries. Someone from Yahoo put the photo back on Dors’ profile, but another employee who was unfamiliar with the exception took it down a few months later. Someone else later put the picture back up, and it's still there, for now.
Dors’ stor is a reminder that ever-increasing usability has been accompanied by the de-liberalizing of user rights. Jonathan Zittrain, a professor of Internet governance and regulation at Oxford University, warns against Internet users relying too heavily on applications and software over which they have little or no control.
Here, from the same article, this is how Yahoo! explains itself.
While mindful of free speech and other rights, Yahoo and other companies say they must craft and enforce guidelines that go beyond legal requirements to protect their brands and foster safe, enjoyable communities—ones where minors may be roaming.
Guidelines help "engender a positive community experience," one to which users will want to return, said Anne Toth, Yahoo's vice president for policy.
go beyond legal requirements to protect their brands not that this is surprising, but it's rarely stated that bluntly.
Uh, things are getting interesting. Open Source, capable of producing a working copy of itself. A bit geeky still, but who knows for how long.
Look at your computer setup and imagine that you hooked up a 3D printer. Instead of printing on bits of paper this 3D printer makes real, robust, mechanical parts. To give you an idea of how robust, think Lego bricks and you're in the right area. You could make lots of useful stuff, but interestingly you could also make most of the parts to make another 3D printer. That would be a machine that could copy itself.
RepRap is short for Replicating Rapid-prototyper. It is the practical self-copying 3D printer shown on the right - a self-replicating machine. This 3D printer builds the component up in layers of plastic. This technology already exists, but the cheapest commercial machine would cost you about €30,000. And it isn't even designed so that it can make itself. So what the RepRap team are doing is to develop and to give away the designs for a much cheaper machine with the novel capability of being able to self-copy (material costs are about €400). That way it's accessible to small communities in the developing world as well as individuals in the developed world. Following the principles of the Free Software Movement we are distributing the RepRap machine at no cost to everyone under the GNU General Public Licence. So, if you have a RepRap machine, you can make another and give it to a friend...
"Think of RepRap as a China on your desktop."
- Chris DiBona, Open Source Programs Manager, Google Inc., 8 April 20