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September 6, 2008

[ae] Ronaldo Lemos

Ronaldo Lemos says that Sony offers 13 new CDs a year to all of Brazil. But there is tremendous activity online. But sites like TramaVirtual only works for people with computers. His group researched Nigeria, Brazil, Colombia and Argentina. E.g., in the Brazilian province of Parà “tehcnobrega” (cheesy techno) is popular. There every year they produce 400 cds and 100 dvds. They’re not available in store. The producers have a deal with the people who sell pirated cds on the street. The cds are sold at the “raves.” The economic system is entirely different from the traditional music industry’s. The artists also sell higher-end versions at their concerts. This is a multi-million dollar market. The number 1 well-known artist in the country, Calypso, is completely outside the media-record industry complex. Baile funk is another example.

Brazil produces 51 films a year. Us: 611. India: 934. Nigeria: 1200. In Nigeria, they skip the usual distribution channels. They sell them directly on the street. Movies provide the #2 source of employment in Nigeria, for a million people.

Henri Langlois in 1969 said that cinema will only reach its destiny until people have appropriated the means of production, Ronaldo says.

He says people say that this music and these movies are in bad taste. But, he says, the samba in the 1930s was also perceived as in bad taste.

This is a global phenomenon: Grind, dubstep, hip hop, kuduro, champeta, etc.

[Now there is a general discussion with the panel I’m on. Too hard to live blog…] [Tags: ]

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[ae] James Boyle

James Boyle is chairman of Creative Commons and teaches law at Duke. He’s talking about the nature of openness. [Note: Live blogging. Error prone and error-full.]

We have patterns of behavior that economic theory does not predict. We are risk averse. For example, it makes no sense to buy a warranty; we buy them out of an absurd sense that buying the warranty affects the device’s outcome. There is another kind of bias that we wouldn’t predict from economic theory: A systematic bias against openness. We don’t expect openness and collaboration to generate what they do. We overestimate the risks. We underestimate the risks of closed systems and overestimate closed systems’ benefits.

Suppose in 1990 I came to you with two proposals: Build an open system. Or, build something like Minitel, Compuserv or AOL; it’s controlled and permission-based. Which would you pick? If you pick the first, you’ll have piracy, spam, massive amounts of crap, flame wars, massive violations of IP, use for immoral purposes. “I think you’d pick network #2” because those risks are foreseeable, but you couldn’t imagine wikis, blogs, Google maps, etc. It’s hard for us to imagine the benefits of open systems. It’s not intuitive.

Again, in 1990 you are asked to assemble the greatest encyclopedia, in most languages, updated in real time, adopt a neutral point of view. In 1990, you’d say that you need maybe a billion dollars, a hierarchical corporation, lots of editors, vet the writers you’re hiring, peer reviewers, copyright it all to recoup the money we’ve invested, trademark it. And someone else says, “We’ll have a web site, and people will like put stuff up and people will edit it.” How many of us would have picked #2. We don’t understand openness.

Free software is the same story.

What conclusions should we draw? Some people are raised in places where they learn how to drive in snow and ice. They learn to turn into the skid, contrary to our impulses. We can train ourselves to overcome our biases. But open doesn’t always work. Sometimes we do need closed, controlled. E.g., open won’t get us all the way to a phase 3 drug trial. Open doesn’t always work for privacy. We need a world with both open and closed.

So far, James says, we in the audience agree. Now for some things that will not flatter our sympathy.

He talks about Putnam’s “Bowling Alone” that talks about the loss of civil organizations in America. But, Putnam noticed that in the early 1900s American intellectuals noticed that the move to cities fragmented the old ties. But they didn’t say that history will just automatically correct itself. Instead, they created organizations like the Kiwanis, the Elks, etc. They invented institutions to make up for a problem they saw. Eventually, those institutions worked.

So, if we are bad at judging the boundaries between open and closed, if it’s important to get it right, then it’s beholden on us to create the institutions of civil society that enable us to get past our biases. Creative Commons is one such. It provides an infrastructure for sharing our work.

Science Commons is another such group. The Web was created to exchange scientific info, but the Web currently works much better for buying shoes or porn than doing that. The vast majority of scientific literature is behind the pay wall. You can find it but not read it. Nor can you build a sort of Google Maps mashup — take all the literature on malaria, find all the geo locations, all the proteins, overlay it, build a wikipedia for science. You can’t do that because it’s illegal, technologically impossible, and even if you could, you can’t reassemble it and do a click and buy. “The World Wide Web doesn’t work for science.” Science commons tries to address that…

Q: Is the bias a metaphor or an inherent inability to understand openness?
A: About 80% is explained by the fact that for most of my generation’s lives, our experience of property was with physical things; if I have it, you can’t. There are economic benefits to knowing who owns it. The closed intuitions generally work there.

[I have to stop to get read to give my talk …] [Tags: ]


[ae] AKMA

I’m sitting on the speakers panel at Ars Electronica, listening to AKMA. “Theological discourse intrudes awkwardly into tech conferences,” he says. Theologists and technologists frequently talk past one another, he says. They are mutually suspicious. Theologians sometimes suffer from “replacement panic,” the fear that online will replace real world interaction. The church needs to “indiginate” itself online. [Live blogging. Poorly. Omissions, typos, mistakes. That’s just the way it.]

Jacques Paul Migne discovered in the 19th century the most efficient means of editing a paper: outright plagiarism. He’d copy an entire article, while introducing it by noting where it was first published. “He scraped newsfeeds and republished them.” Migne owned five steam presses in 1861. He published a “universal theological library” comprising 25 vols of Biblical commentary, 25 vol encyc, 18 vol of Christian apologetics, 13 vols in praise of the blessed Virgin Mary, and many more. While most relied on public domain sources, he sometimes republished volumes still within copyright. It was a “theological literature Pirates Bay.” Charles Sheldon’s “In His Steps” (“What would Jesus do?”) had a technically flawed copyright notice, so it was republished without permission.

So, situate all of this in the transition to digital media, AKMA suggests. Theological might serve as a useful “fishbowl” for technological innovators. There are online libraries of theological works, but “no organization has broken through to offer open access digital works” in comfortable, readable formats. “The conditions for publishing will go through some sort of convulsive change.” It will not replace books. But it will enable a “vastly more open exchange of digital literature.” We need “shareable, searchable, downloadable, disposable” texts, as well as durable, ownable printed texts. We need an open, standard format with a direct correlation to print copies (because print will survive and will generate cash flow). This will provide users wioth the “tools and the incentive to particiapte in the production of knowledge.”

Q: (James Boyle) You say technologists should see in the theological domain an opportunity to expand the commons. Why have not the faithful seen IP issues as something that gets in the way of the practice of their faith? E.g., many pieces of sacred music is under copyright. The organist at a local church said that she has a parishoner who is dying of cancer and I want to send her a cd of the music. They want $5,000 for a hymn.” I told her to go ahead and when they sue you, come to me. Why isn’t the world of the faithful looking at these issues?
A: The Bible publishing industry was one of the startups in 19th century US because the King couldn’t enforce copyright on this side of the ocean. Replacement panic causes the church to fear that personal interactions will evaporate. And assimilation to the culture of property rights. [Tags: ]


September 5, 2008

[ae] Wireless, open Linz

I’m listening to Leon Dubosch via a translator. (German is my best not-English, but it’s not good enough.) Leonard thought about projects that could be done in Linz.

Thomas Gegenhuber now speaks. Art reuses what has been created before. (He quotes Lessig.) What can a municipality do? Linz’s homepage is published under CC. Artists who publish their works under a free license gets more money from the government than those who don’t use free licenses. CC here is the default option, and that should be true for cultural funding.

Jakob p[missed last name] says free software is a matter of rights Protecting free software is a human right. Munich uses platform-independent software. It’s free to adapt it, free to partner, free to disseminate it, and has no license fees to pay. What will Linz have to do to be as free Munich: Decide to use open source software in administration, the business, and in education. Right now, all software in Austrian schools is Windows. Instead, schools should teach skills, not applications. Schools ought to have open source software.

Barbara Hofmann talks open courseware. She points to MIT and open coune.rseware. There are 200 schools that are members of the open courseware consortium. The Univ of Klagenfurt in Austria is a member. It takes institutional interest and organizational backbone.

Stefan Powel talks about web science at Univ of Linz. They want to pull together multiple disciplines, initially for a masters degree, by 2010. Bachelors degree by 2012.

Manuela Hiermair talks about overcoming the digital divide. We need free wifi. Communities can provide free access. In Linz, there are over 100 free wifi access points, and a public internet service provider.

Christian Forsterleitner talks about Digital public space. Every resident should receive a bit of Linz’s publis space, free. There are free storage offers from Google, Flickr, MySpace, etc. NBut you give up your rights and are subject to censorship. “We want public authorities to provide this basic service.” “We consider the Webspace to be a citizen’s right.”

[Time to move to Linz? :) ]

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[ae] Michael Tiemann

Michael Tiemann tells us a little of his story. He once wrote some software and sold it to a company that was unable to market it. He was torn up that his work would never be used because it was owned and locked up by someone else. The music industry also doesn’t work well for musicians. So, he’s begun a personal project to create a new way to solve this problem. [Note: Live blogging. Unreliably.]

He shows a video of a beautifully rendered music studio.

“Culture” comes from “cultivate.” Culture isn’t just about consumption, but about the processes that produce goods and that give them meaning. We need to preserve our creative topsoil. Trying to own culture kills it.

Now he talks about his project. He refers to The Crafter Manifesto. He quotes Tagore: “One man opens his throat to sing/ the other sings in his mind.” The song needs the listener. And the observer alters the reality observed. So, look at the slow food music. Why can’t we do the same thing for music, he asks. The artist, the engineer, and the audience (which he calls “the co-producers”) are in an collaborative project.

His project aims at creating an environment with superb sound, inviting co-producers in so they can participate much more fully. (now I’m confused. I’m not sure if he’s building a real or virtual. I’m pretty sure it’s virtual.) There will be a subscription model. [Tags: ]

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[AE] Yochai Benkler

Yochai says he wants to leave the question: Can free culture survive systematization? [Trying to keep up with Yochai. Failing. Posting without proofreading or spell checking. Caveat lector.]

In 1835, it cost $10K (modern dollars) to start a daily newspaper. Now it costs millions. The startup cost causes a bifurcation between passive audiences and professional, commercial producers. The industrial structure of mass media characterizes the modern age. But, consider that [email protected] dwarfs the computing power of the supercomputers created in industrial ways. This is a radical decentralization of inputs and processes: material, processing, storage, communication, creativity, wisdom. For the first time, the most important inputs are broadly distributed in the population.

This takes social action that’s always been there, and moves it from being important socially and peripheral to the economy, to being at the core.

In Wikipedia vs. Britannica, the core issue isn’t price. It’s authority. The most important part of the Nature comparative study of the two was the editorial that urged scientists to update Wikipedia, sharing traditional authority with the new medium.

Yochai shows a 2×2: centralize or decentraliced vs market-based and non-market. Now we have a four-way interaction among all the old players, from traditional to social-sharing non-profits.

This engages distributed sensing of opportunities for action, solutions, experimentatino, adaptation. You get new and exciting possibilities. The increasing complexity and speed of change has been pushing businesses to go beyond the old technique of hiring what they need. “We can learn faster by loosening the structure of who gets to be effectively active in the world.”

But Yochai wants to focus on participatory culture and democracy. “Critical to the success and power of social production … is the decentralization of practical capacity to act…but also locating authority to act where the capacity to act resides.” This is where commons-based resources are important: We can act on them without permission. This is also where peer production systems (people cooperating without firms) matter because it allows people to work together without permission. “Ownership no longer equals or entails authority.” We get a more diverse , more transparent, and maybe a more critical self-reflective culture (although here he leaves a question mark).

Yochai shows a kickass video of a guy in a suit figuring out how to play the drums, followed by another guy in a split screen plahing piano. By someone named Lasse something? If you have the url, could you post it in the comments? He tells the story of the Daily Prophet, a 14 yr old who poste Harry Potter stories, and seven years later has started a distributed projeto t scan in fantasy illustrations from old books. Also, the site Learning To Love You More’s project of collecting photos of bed underneaths. Also, Also, And And distributed reportage (“Bomb bomb bomb, Iran”). “Yes We Can.”

YouTube lets individuals create and post. Revver and Metacafe tries to find ways to get artists paid. But, “once they introduced money, they introduced distrust.” Kaltura enables editing and has worked on engendering trust via open sourcing. Everything will be kept free. It binds its organization to a set of institutions that are free and open.

Politics isn’t just about politicians. It’s also about meaning. What things mean and how they mean.

So, human creativity decentralized can create a more democratic system, but it threatens the industrial model. For the past decade there’s been a rough stalemate over IP. But the most important actions have been social/cultural: Sharing practices. Increasingly institutionalized, e.g., Free Software Foundation, Creative Commons.

We’re seeing new models of market-cultural society relations: Credible commitment mechanisms, self-binding licenses, transparency, participation, styles of leadership. Authenticity and conversation become central. New ways to build trust, fairness, reciprocity.

He ends by taking Jonathan Coulton as an example. [What about Brad Sucks? :) ] He shows the Code Monkey videos.

“This is invoking a fundamentally different normative framework than ‘This is mine and you can’t have it.'”

The basic question: Can we create new social cultural spaces in the overlap of market and social relations, sustainable and not based on control and authority but on social and cooperative models? [Tags: ]

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