Friday, October 28, 2011
Lessig admits that although the technical changes made possible by the invention of the internet are outstanding, the impact it has made on our current culture should be given much more attention. He disscusses two forms of culture: "commercial," being the part of culture that exists to be produced and sold, and "noncommercial," that being all remaining aspects of culture (7-8). For example, a woman publishing poetry would be contibuting to commercial culture while an old man telling stories to kids would create noncommercial culture. Lessig goes on to describe the change this noncommercial culture has overgone, "At the beginning... the law was never directly concerned with the creation or spread of this form of culture, and it left this culture 'free'... left alone by the law... the focus was on commercial creativity" (8). The laws to protect artists left all the other forms of noncommercial culture (telling stories, making tapes, etc.) unregulated. Yet now with the introduction of the internet, the "divide between the free and the controlled has now been erased" (8).
This erasure has shaped us into what Lessig coins a "permission culture" (8). He means that in order to contribute to and/or critique the culture around us, we must first ask permission to do so. This so-called "permission" is usually granted to most of society, yet "it is not granted to the critical or the independent" (10). Organizations have now placed laws in order to stifle the critical, independent thinkers that threaten them, in turn, creating a form of nobility that is completely foreign to our fundamental culture. Justified as a way to protect commercial creativity, it is not a protectionism employed to defend artists but rather certain forms of business (8-9). Lessig's greatest worry is that if the battle between organizations, particularily the governemnt, and "free" thinkers goes unchecked, there will be major damage to our society's rich tradition and culture (11).
Lessig is strongly against the actions of internet "pirates", yet feels that laws against them rid society of an integral component: the protection of creators from state control as listed by the 1st Amendment. When the government feels threatened, it attempts to silence the independent parties who challenge them. Currently, this struggle for control is perfectly displayed by the existence of the controversial site "Wikileaks". The anonymous contributors behind it hacked into top-secret government documents/ reports and exposed them to the public. A recent New York Times article (aptly named Wikileaks) describes the site's purpose and controversiality. Fareed Khan begins,
"The once-fringe Web site, which aims to bring to light secret information about governments and corporations, was founded in 2006 by Julian Assange, an Australian activist and journalist... Wikileaks made its initial reputation by publishing material as diverse as documents about toxic dumping in Africa, protocols from Guantánamo Bay, e-mail messages from Sarah Palin's personal account and 9/11 pager messages" (Khan 1).
By publishing it's own material on dozens of servers around the globe, Wikileaks has grown more and more elusive and controversial. It has remained untouchable from any government control due to the legal loop-holes the creators have discovered and thrived on. The increase in information being posted on the site has threatened the order of the U.S. government by eluding it's dominion and defacing it's public image through the posting of disturbing, clandestine information. Currently, the British government is involved in a legal battle with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange due to criminal allegations unaffiliated with the site (2). Khan writes, "With Mr. Assange's arrest, the authorities he has reveled in provoking will have a new degree of control over his movements, though not necessarily over WikiLeaks" (2). Although the government may now have influence over one of the site's key players, Wikileaks still remains.
This case of Wikileaks is an example of Lessig's ongoing battle of property v.s. piracy. Lessig describes the mentality of the government that Wikileaks is attacking when he declares that, "From the beginning, government and government agencies have been subject to capture. They are more likely captured when a powerful interest is threatened by either a legal or technical change. That powerful interest too often exerts its influence within the government to get the government to protect it" (Lessig 6). The "powerful interest" here is the government's control of secret information which the legal/technical change of Wikileaks has made public. In a way, Wikileaks supports the idea that we have not yet fallen into Lessig's nightmare; that there is still some divide between freedom of speech and government interference in cyberspace. The site has provided a change in how society can view startling information. To maintain our culture's freedom, we must not allow those most threatened by these changes to use their power to change the law or the fundamental values of society. If we let the government use their power to silence sites such as Wikileaks, we are damaging our culture and effectively adding fuel to the fire of ignorance.
Should we as society sit passively while laws inhibit our freedom and sweep information under the government's rug? In the words of Justice Douglas, "common sense revolts at the idea" (3).
The subsequent conversations were of little significance: small talk of poor- connection issues, nothing substantial for creating a new friendship. ppchute1 went on to exalt Freddie Gibbs (music far from Rummy's taste) and eventually asked the question, "Hey so whats your name?". "I have no name except Rummy man," the confused rocker answered. "Sorry i didn't answer earlier, i've been binging with my white girl for days". And here the conversations abruptly ended. For the most part, Rummy found the bar to be a better catalyst for meeting people.
As you can probably tell, I had fun creating the brand new, totally anonymous persona of Rummy. He possessed many traits of my personality taken to the extreme and a lifestyle that I felt was quite comical. Upon receiving the assignment, I realized that the method of students randomly selecting their partners was flawed because each would end up getting two chat buddies. This wasn't much of an issue, however, because I felt that then there would be more room to further develop my persona. I never ended up getting in touch with my other partner because "she" (the name implies) never was online to respond to my messages. I began to see that the main flaw in the assignment was entirely student-based. The sheer anonymity of the assignment denied the use of cell phones between partners so no certain time could be agreed on to chat. It seemed that students failed to take the initiative and check their AIM accounts frequently. The last problem i hoped would not occur was when my partner asked what my real name was, which would have negated the whole purpose. I suppose its a good thing that our conversations ended after that, but i really would have enjoyed going deeper into the life of Rummy.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
In American culture, our way of life is self-defined for its uniqueness, individuality, independence and freedom. Freedom is really a loose term today when we consider many of the restrictions that do not hold when bearing in mind the first amendment in the Bill of Rights of our U.S. Constitution. For those reading this blog, I hope and pray that the reader knows what the first amendment is or at least knows what it means.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
When Americans self-define our culture, their explanation of freedom usually starts with the first amendment to the Constitution.
Today, Americans have the ability to express their “freedom of speech” through several different avenues especially with the popularity of the World Wide Web. Many users of the Internet write about what they want, show pictures publicly, deliver propaganda and also make videos. Lawrence Lessig’s book, Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity, questions the fact that copyright and permission issues in America that exist today are far more extreme and unwarranted comparatively to the days before the World Wide Web.While Lessig gives his reader examples pertaining to instances in culture that were believed and practiced to be free, his main argument is based on the idea that technology over the course of the twentieth century has affected American culture’s freedom and has turned into a more “permission culture.”
Everyday it seems as though we hear about another instance of copyright violation pertaining to illegal usage of songs or illegal usage of copyrighted video. Many make the argument that one’s usage of script such as books or magazines, songs, photos, and video is for small and personal use and should not violate copyright or anti-trust laws. It always seems though that we only ever hear about these violations when big money is involved. Who cares about a violation if it does not hurt a brand or its apparent company regarding future sales? Take for instance a friend of mind, Gavin Riley. Gavin is just like any college student user of the World Wide Web. He has a Facebook, he tweets, but more importantly he uses YouTube.Interestingly, Gavin was the first person that introduced me to YouTube as he was showing me a home video that he was now easily able to post online. However, a video that Gavin made recently pertains to Lessig’s idea of “permission culture.”
Basically, Gavin decided to make a humorous rap music video about the death of Sean Paul.The music video is creative and funny, but that is beside the point. In the video, Gavin is seen in a Wendy’s restaurant uniform behind a Wendy’s restaurant counter in Cockeysville, MD. Obviously, one can make the assumption that he was an employee at that establishment. A few weeks later Gavin received a letter from Wendy’s banning him from their restaurants and firing him in the process.
The video to date has about 7,000 hits, but compared to others videos online that is a relatively low number.Does Wendy’s really think 7,000 people is enough to slander their brand name as a popular fast foot restaurant? Last time I checked, they still seem to be in business. Is it right that Gavin was fired because a small segment of the video contains him in a Wendy’s restaurant as an employee? Only in society today would something like this happen. Think of all the Saturday Night Live skits that mock American brand names and products. There are too many to list! This TV show is seen by millions of people yet they did not face the repercussions that Gavin did. Wendy’s is a private enterprise and they can do as they please, however the company should have asked him to remove the video instead of firing him for a small issue. Lessig is right, “There has never been a time in our history when more of our “culture” was as “owned” as it is now.”
The Flickr project for our Introduction to Digital Cultures class was a fun opportunity for my group members and I to get to know one another. Interacting with my classmates in this fashion is a unique atmosphere that few schools can match as well as Lawrence University.Initially, our group contacted one another via e-mails, Facebook, and Twitter to arrange meeting times. Our group met one day to conceptualize an actual story for the Flickr project.Upon choosing the idea of Grand Theft Auto among other inspirations, our group collaborated on when and where to have our photo shoot and who the characters would be.Other necessary items in this meeting included deciding who had a camera and our transportation for taking pictures photographed on location. The second meeting we had the photo shoot, which consisted of the majority of the photos seen in our Flickr project. Each member of our group willingly and cordially helped in taking photos and suggesting logistics for the photos themselves. The third and final meeting our group took the first and last pictures seen in the slideshow. In addition, we edited all photos while adding the GTA graphics from my ownership of the GTA 4 game.
Our group felt as though having only five to ten pictures to tell a story was short. We wanted to include more elements from the actual game play itself but in the end we felt that we captured the most vital characteristics from the game and probably also the lesser risqué ones too. Basically, the story starts in the real world with Sydney. A world that includes many stresses and real life pains of school, family and life in general. Grand Theft Auto is a video game that provides an avenue of living in a fantasy world that is not revolutionary for its time but is very entertaining for the adult user. Essentially, the user is allowed to commit serious crimes without having to face the repercussions found in the real world. I myself play as the main culprit in the Grand Theft Auto: Midwest City version. A unique aspect of the GTA games is that many users find fulfillment playing the game without completing missions.Many like to find the first vehicle in sight. Carjack it by any means necessary whether it is parked or has passengers in the vehicle. Killing random people in the streets, robbing banks and committing other various crimes, while also finding and using an array of weapons on the map. So I find the first car I see to steal. I kill Dyllan with a crowbar after pulling him out of the car. I always found it amusing when the passengers in the passenger’s seat of the jumped out while the car was moving. After driving around looking for the Chase Bank, I enter with my handgun and rob the establishment. After a whole night’s worth of committing too many felonies, Sydney realizes she must end her fun for the time being and finish her homework.
Flickr is an easy to use social medium and tool that enables Internet users to interact with pictures. Much like the social media seen in websites like Facebook and Twitter, Flickr is a website that is structured through Yahoo! and only requires an easily accessible and commonly used Yahoo! account. The content and usability of Flicker is user friendly and self-explanatory. I was exceptionally impressed by the ease in editing captions and tags.They are easily edited by clicking on the actual text which brings up a cursor to re-type.Uploading the pictures was also simple as our group was able to upload the pictures from Sydney’s computer desktop to the site itself. The tags in our slideshow can help users of Flickr find photos by searching Grand Theft Auto themes. Although the game itself is popular, other examples like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings contain a much larger fan base of creating user generated content.
However, one can find a few examples such as ours.
Flickr is absolutely an effective tool in creating user-generated content and sharing that content with others. This past summer, my mother and my sister were using the Internet to help plan for my sister’s wedding. Besides using e-mail for obvious reasons, both my mother and sister used Flickr and sights like it to find wedding pictures that Flickr users have uploaded. These pictures include examples of trendy fashions and show examples of good and bad designs of wedding outfits of the bridal and groom parties. An example shown below is a picture of the outdoor gazebo where my sister got married. She was able to use this photo as a means of getting a picture of what her wedding day might be like at Woodlawn Manor.
This picture is of her husband standing in front of the same gazebo from Woodlawn Manor.
Rebecca Blood’s standpoint on the use of Flickr identifies the rising concept of photojournalism. I like to think that the way Blood illustrates the idea of using tags in Flickr is like using the hashtag in Twitter. She provides an example of the power of photojournalism. Footage of the French employment riots provides internet users with breaking news. Once word got around about these riots, one could search on Flickr and find eyewitnesses views of the action. While these photos can be found in the interesting category of Flickr photos, my sister could find ideas related to her wedding. The interesting photos provides the latest trends. However, I felt as though while the slideshows created by my fellow classmates told fictional stories and that they could be interpreted as ideas of photojournalism, these slideshows can also be used for fun in creating stories and providing fan support for our interests like our group found commonly in playing Grand Theft Auto video games.