Posted at 12:40 in Books, Communication Policy, Education, Free Software, Intellectual Property, Internet, Media Ownership, Music, Music History, Music Industry, Musicology, Network Society, personal, Politricks, Popular Culture, Privacy, Remix Culture, Resistant Aesthetic Practices, work | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
My new book The Piracy Crusade will be published this December, and I'm incredibly excited to have illustrator and comic journalist Josh Neufeld doing the cover art for me. Josh has now sent me initial sketches outlining a few cover ideas, and has consented to let me use the "wisdom of the crowd" to help develop the cover idea further, just as I did with the text of the book itself.
The book's basic premise is that "digital piracy" is a boogeyman promoted by legacy content cartels in order to justify increasingly draconian intellectual property laws, treaties and policies whose primary purpose is to bolster their (eroding) market dominance. Unfortunately, the secondary effects of this agenda (exemplified by initiatives such as PIPA, SOPA, ACTA and CISPA) is to undermine the foundations of democratic society by eliminating protections for free speech, privacy and market competition, while weakening checks and balances against corporate and governmental overreach.
Josh has sent me four cover ideas, and I'd love your help in choosing between them. The first is the one that I initially outlined for him -- in which two battleships, one flying the copyright flag and the other flying the copyleft flag, are engaged in a naval battle, and the resulting smoke creates the phantom of the Jolly Roger:
The second cover idea is very similar, but it eliminates the Jolly Roger smoke, which Josh says would give more prominence and detail to the ships, and unclutter the overall design:
The third concept also features the copyright and copyleft ships, but puts them in relation to each other along the Z-axis with foreshortening, rather than portraying them side-by-side:
Finally, the fourth cover idea is a radical departure from the nautical imagery, and just features a Jolly Roger with copyright and copyleft symbols for eyes:
I need to choose one of these ideas, or propose a new one, to Josh ASAP, so he can get to work on the art itself. I welcome your comments and suggestions!
This weekend, I was fortunate to host a keynote discussion between media theorist (and Moog afficionado) Trevor Pinch and DJ/author Paul D. Miller, a/k/a DJ Spooky. It was part of an excellent conference called "Extending Play" organized by the doctoral students at Rutgers SC&I.
Our panel was a lot of fun -- a freewheeling discussion that ranged from music and tech geekery to broad social theory. You can listen to the audio transcript here:
Posted at 10:28 in Aesthetic Theory, Appropriation, Art and Technology, Books, Class, Communication Policy, Congitive/Neuropsych, Cultural Studies, Digital Divide, DIY, Education, Free Software, Friends, Gadgets, Games, Genre, Style and Taste, Globalization, Hacking, Intellectual Property, Interface, Internet, Media Ownership, Music, Music History, Music Industry, Musicology, Network Society, personal, Politricks, Popular Culture, Race, Remix Culture, Resistant Aesthetic Practices, Subcultures, Videogames, Web/Tech, work | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
This semester, I'll be teaching a class called "Copyright, Culture & Commerce" at Rutgers SC&I. I used to teach a very similar course at NYU (which I inherited from Siva Vaidhyanathan), but this is basically a complete reboot. I've built the syllabus from scratch, and made a real effort to balance some of my own opinions with conflicting ones, and to integrate debate into the classroom experience.
One of the biggest problems I've faced is that I know so much more about the subject than I did 5 years ago when I first taught the class, and have read so many more texts, that it's much harder to squeeze it all into one coherent undergraduate experience.
I welcome your feedback -- especially over the next few days, before I have to finalize the syllabus and hand it out to my students.
Week 1: Introduction
Week 2: Why Do We Have Copyright?
Week 3: Commons & Anticommons
Week 4: The Growth of Copyright
Week 5 : Fair Use and the Public Domain
Week 6: IP & Corporate Power
Week 7: Copyright & Globalization
Week 8: Piracy & Punishment
Week 9: DRM & DMCA
Week 10: Copyright, Convergence & Configurability
Week 11: Open Source, Free Software & Copyfight
Week 12: In Defense of Copyright
Week 13: Can Copyright be Fixed?
Week 14: Is Democracy Piracy?
Posted at 10:50 in Appropriation, Books, Communication Policy, Education, Free Software, Globalization, Hacking, Intellectual Property, Media Ownership, Music Industry, Network Society, Politricks, Privacy, Remix Culture, Resistant Aesthetic Practices, work | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Posted at 09:36 in Appropriation, Art and Technology, Books, Communication Policy, DIY, Education, Free Software, Friends, Hacking, Intellectual Property, Internet, Media Ownership, Music, Music Industry, Network Society, personal, Privacy, Resistant Aesthetic Practices, Social Media, viral video, work | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
My new book project, loosely based on my LimeWire expert testimony, is called "The Piracy Crusade." Although it will be published as a paper book next year by University of Massachusetts Press, I'm also publishing draft chapters as I write them on an open, Creative Commons-licensed, comments-enabled platform hosted by the MediaCommons project.
This kind of prepublication is increasingly being used as "peer-to-peer review," a crowdsourced alternative to the traditional academic "peer review" process, in which 2-3 anonymous readers with unclear motives and levels of interest weigh in on your work after 6-12 months of waiting. Obviously, when you're covering something fast-moving like law, technology, culture, or all three, that kind of a waiting process can be deadly.
If you have any interest, experience, or opinions regarding music, intellectual property law, new technologies, or the digital media industry, I encourage you to take a look, and leave a comment. All constructive commenters will get a shout-out in the final version of the book's Acknowledgments section.
The first two chapters are already up, and Chapter 3 is in process. Check it out on PiracyCrusade.com!
p.s. I'm also looking for some cover art -- if you're interested in creating something (I can't pay you, but I'll give you a credit on the cover), let me know.
Posted at 20:44 in Aesthetic Theory, Appropriation, Art and Technology, Books, Communication Policy, Cultural Studies, Education, Free Software, Hacking, Intellectual Property, Internet, Media Ownership, Music, Music History, Music Industry, Musicology, Network Society, personal, Politricks, Popular Culture, Privacy, Remix Culture, Resistant Aesthetic Practices, Social Media, Subcultures, Tech industry, telecom, Web/Tech, work | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
I've somehow bamboozled my friend Peter Maass, the deservedly award-winning war correspondent and nonfiction author, to come give a talk at Rutgers in two weeks. I can't wait. Peter embodies that rare combination of intelligence, experience and humillity that makes for a great journalist, and a riveting lecturer.
The lecture is free! Hope you can make it. (You can download the flier here)
One of the greatest pleasures of attending the recent Masters of Amateurism: Remix conference in Amsterdam was meeting Joost Smiers, a fellow speaker and fellow traveler in general. Joost and I began a dialogue at the conference that, to my delight, we've continued in email form ever since.
Below, Joost responds to specific passages and arguments in my book "Mashed Up," I respond to his responses, he responds to my responses, and so forth. I've avoided the threading issues by reformatting the conversation as a simple dialogue.
AS: Thank you. Simon means "listening," and Asha means "hope" -- so it's really for my children.
True. And the copyright industries in the US continue to push for legislation that would formalize this responsibility at the Federal level.
No, I haven't yet -- although I have an idea for some research on the subject that's been on my back-burner for years.
I don't read French, unfortunately. But I'd be interested to read a translation.
I agree with you completely, and I hope I haven't given any impression to the contrary.
Whose face do you see in this particular image? I made it myself, using a well-known photograph of a famous celebrity!
No idea whose face! But, you know?
Yes, I do. But I'll have to tell you privately, because I don't want to have to defend my "fair use" of the image in court.
It's the best I could think of in 2005! I also considered the term "soft culture," which would be analogous to software.
True. As I argue, this is only proto-. The ethic was there, but not the tools.
It's more common than you think, and includes the majority of US adults. I have fielded survey data on the subject since 2006. Will publish the latest data soon.
That's one of the underlying questions of the book, and I believe the answer is unequivocally yes. But it really depends on your value system and your vantage point.
I think the total eclipsing of mainstream culture is a false expectation. Much more important is the democratization of participation. It's ok if we still have Star Wars and Spiderman, as long as people can use these symbols to communicate and express themselves, as they would with any other "common" cultural element.
Yes, I think you have a compelling argument.
Yes, I think you're missing the importance of this because you're looking at the wrong metric. I don't expect or seek the neutralization of power relations, simply a renegotiation of their boundaries. Marketing and political muscle will always buy allegiance, and arguably societies need common symbols in order to function. The question is really who has the permission to use what forms of expression in which contexts. The structure of participation is more relevant than the content of participation.
I agree in principle that we should exercise our collective strength via the market and the political process to limit the cultural power of oligarchs to the extent that such power impinges on the liberties of everyone else. I guess our disagreement is really one of semantics and scope. I don't let myself believe in a world in which everyone participates and shares on an equal footing, because I don't have any interest in waging a Quixotic battle, or in being perpetually disappointed. Yet I certainly believe that we can effect change towards a more equal distribution of power, and that has always been one of my primary focuses.
I'm not sure I agree with your claim that "Not every expression has value, aesthetically, morally, or whatever." I certainly don't find value in every expression, but I've never seen an expression that wasn't valued by someone. Even the bombardment of advertisements and commercials in every communications channel, which I largely detest, are evaluated with critical enthusiasm by members of the marketing community. So the problem with this assertion is that you have to privilege your own subjective vantage point above all else -- which I'm not willing to do.
As to the rest of your argument, I wholeheartedly agree. We need to understand cultural power relations as emerging from separate but related processes at the symbolic, infrastructural, regulatory, and market levels, and to ignore any of these dimensions would undermine our understanding and effectiveness on the others.
It's an overall idea. I focus on DJs because they were "ahead of the curve" in dealing with the destabilizing effects of configurability.
I like your analysis a lot, and it doesn't differ much from mine. In my model, aesthetics, semiotics, semantics and functional design choices coexist in every form of human expression, and though the aesthetic dimension (which I conceive of as a cognitive/affective map) is more immediately evident in some forms, ultimately the distinction can only be made functionally (e.g. Duchamp's "Fountain"). Ultimately, however, I critique the value and purpose of distinguishing between aesthetic and non-aesthetic (or less-aesthetic) works as a fundamentally politicized and therefore suspect undertaking.
"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery -- none but ourselves can free our minds." I agree completely. the only question is one of efficacy. Should we work to eliminate the power of cultural oligarchs altogether through political and/or market forces; counter that power through democratized production and critique; focus on the independence of our own minds through meditation and/or cultural engagement; or some combination of the above? Our conversation keeps returning to the question of whether (cultural) power must necessarily be monopolizable. Maybe I'm brainwashed for thinking the answer is yes. Or maybe I'm just trying to develop a critical strategy based on actual rather than ideal circumstances.
I think the concept of the critic is vital to art worlds as we understand them, but part of my argument is that, like the role of "artist," the critic has become more difficult to detect in a configurable context.
So you don't recognize any value or merit in the work of Sherrie Levine, for example? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherrie_Levine). As her work argues, there's no such thing as taking work without changing it.
That's essentially what I ask my interviewees in Chapter 6.
Looks very cool. I wish I'd known about it when I was there last month!
True, although there are also economic and professional structures in place, as well as aesthetic traditions, that reinforce this distinction.
Yes, I've read that article, and it's excellent.
Not exactly. You're right that I use the term ambiguously at times. To me, nearly all cultural expression is becoming configurable in nature. However, there are some genres and traditions in which the logic of configurability has become central over the past 25 years -- e.g. hip-hop, techno, house, karaoke, remix, mashups, etc. Therefore, I focus on these communities of practice because they have a more evolved discourse and debate on the subject. My survey responses are intended to address the discursive landscape on behalf of configurable cultural actors outside of these relatively narrow fields.
Yes, I know Lovink's work fairly well. You're right, I should be in better touch with them.
Yes, one almost suspects he's staked out his claim just to enjoy the privileges of the contrarian!
Yes, that's treated as a given in the standard discourse.
Posted at 12:02 in Aesthetic Theory, Appropriation, Art and Technology, Books, Communication Policy, Cultural Studies, DIY, Education, Film, Free Software, Friends, Genre, Style and Taste, Globalization, Intellectual Property, Internet, Marketing, Media Ownership, Music, Music Industry, Network Society, personal, Politricks, Popular Culture, Remix Culture, Resistant Aesthetic Practices, telecom, viral video, Visual culture, work | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Yesterday, I gave a keynote presentation based on "Mashed Up" at World's Fair Use Day, hosted by Public Knowledge. The video of the talk (introduced by my former NYU student, Katy Tasker, a PK staffer), is now available on UStream, as are the other excellent panels and presentations.
(The slides from the presentation can be accessed online here: http://bit.ly/aramwfud)
Posted at 19:01 in Aesthetic Theory, Appropriation, Art and Technology, Books, Communication Policy, Congitive/Neuropsych, Cultural Studies, DIY, Education, Free Software, Friends, Genre, Style and Taste, Hacking, Intellectual Property, Media Ownership, Music, Music History, Music Industry, Musicology, Network Society, personal, Politricks, Popular Culture, Remix Culture, Resistant Aesthetic Practices, Subcultures, viral video, work | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
I'm currently putting together the syllabus for my NYU Masters course this Fall, entitled "Topics in Digital Media: Visions and Revisions of Cyberspace." Usually when I teach a class like this, I tell a story on a timeline, painting cyberculture as an evolving entity. This time, however, I'm thinking about it in terms of subject areas, in which each week traces the past, present and future of a given meme or concept. My tentative list of 10 concepts/subject areas is as follows:
1: The Memex and the Mushroom Cloud
2: The Metaverse
3: Hackers and Gamers
5: dot-com Fantasies
6: Web 2.0
7: Remix/Configurable Culture
8: The Cloud
9: Surveillance, Sensors and Robots
10: Adventures in MeatSpace
I'd love any and all informed feedback on either (a) subjects I need to add, delete or merge, and (b) vital readings/viewings/playings for a given subject. Email or blog comments will do. Thanks!
Posted at 17:45 in Appropriation, Art and Technology, augmented reality, Books, Communication Policy, Congitive/Neuropsych, Cultural Studies, Digital Divide, Education, Free Software, Friends, Gadgets, Games, Gender, Hacking, Interface, Internet, Network Society, personal, Popular Culture, Remix Culture, SciFi, Tech industry, telecom, Videogames, Web/Tech, work | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)