Archive for Free Culture

Building Hacker Spaces

Been doing alot of thinking lately about the creation of successful cultural spaces (For Boston SCS and the PoPoMo Manifesto) when I happened on the Hacker Foundation’s Hacker Spaces initiative.

There was actually a panel on this issue during the 5th HOPE Conference a few years back. A fairly interesting listen.

Audio and Visual.

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Web 2.0, CNN, and the Bizzaro-Clones

So I finally got around to watching the CNN’s Youtube Presidential Debates aired on Monday. If you were out of the loop — the basic idea was that the questions were provided by “viewers like you” through videos submitted on Youtube. A press release from CNN cited it as “tak[ing] the bold step of embracing the ever-increasing role of the Internet in politics.”

As much as I love Anderson Cooper’s virgin snowy white hair, there’s the obvious comment that’s already been made by a number of prominent bloggers that this is just old media wrapped up new media clothing. CNN cherry-picked who got aired, and the questions were as softie as they wanted them to be. It’s obvious that CNN still hasn’t quite gotten what the “internet in politics” means for their role in the public sphere when they openly admit that “a small group led by Senior Vice President David Bohrmann” will be deciding “who makes the cut.” If they’re embracing it — it’s only because it still can fit into the traditional way of doing things — with media as ultimate arbitrator.

As implementing Web 2.0 comes increasingly into vogue (i.e. USAToday) I think we will increasingly need a heuristic to parse out the “good uses” from the “bad uses.” I’m not sure what that heuristic is, but I think this instance was a bad use. Granted, I think it’s great to get people into the habit of generating their own media, that much is awesome. Though I think the practice is twisted in a bad way when it re-affirms the principle that the gatekeepers of media bottlenecks have the right to decide who is “valuable” enough to get mass distribution. Plus, it tends to center attention on YouTube as a sole conduit of submitting video, which is also pretty problematic.

Although all this is an important point to be made, I think there’s actually, another more distinctively surreal popomo side to this — the fact the hosts of the show are now Bizzaro-clones.

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Free As In Free Culture: Trilemma’d


While this year’s iCommons certainly brought a vast array of different viewpoints and ideas to the table, it occured to me that if one actually sat down to compile a list of existing broad trends in how the Free Culture community deals with itself, it’d actually be fairly short. I’d contend it would read something like this —

1) The Push To Define Freedom — As advocated by Mako and the basis for Driscoll’s current project to collect visions for “How It Looks Like After We’ve Won.” Essentially, the argument for which is pretty reasonable and basic: knowing your end goal is usually useful for guiding your action, even if that goal is very broadly drawn.

2) Free Culture as a Community Uniter — As seen in the James Boyle conception of FC as a “cultural enviromentalist movement” that attempts to forge points of unity between previously disaparte communities a la Silent Spring/Enviromentalism.

3) Free Culture as Inclusive to All Cultural Communities — As seen in classic Lessig and arguably in how Benkler characterizes the Free Culture situation as a battle over two camps of institutional ecology. That is, that Free Culture’s aim should be to bring these issues to as many cultural production communities as possible.

Indeed, I think if you talked to most Free Culture people, you’d find that most people agree to a greater or lesser extent with all three.

But I think if you look at the problem closer, it’s not just that all three are difficult to pursue simultaneously, it’s impossible.

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