Sunday, May 1, 2011

Blog Five

"The meaning of a particular thing is enabled by the web of implicit meanings we call the world" (170). This quote means that an object can mean many different things because of the implicit meanings that it can hold. I think that Lessig meant more about the context of an object and how a meaning can be broken down to different parts.

This is relevant to the Third Order of Order because there are many ways one object could be viewed. And that certain view can be different from person to person depending on the implicit meanings that it could hold. The song that I chose to portray is "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails. So what would a computer need to know in order to understand the relevance of this song in my life? Well for starters it would need to know who I am. It would need to know my set of emotions, how I grew up, and what environment I am in now. It would also need to know my long term goals in life as well as the outlook that I have on it. If a computer knew the answers to all of these questions, then it would know the relevance that it has on my life. (Which would be completely frightening)

Blog Twelve -- RIP! Remix

The last reading of the semester out of Lessig's Remix has numerous connections to the video we watched in class, RIP: A Remix Manifesto. Lessig touches on the aspect of hybrid economies and the importance of continued innovation within them. He also touched on open source software by comparing it to the invention of a new kind of high-pressure train engine two centuries ago. The innovator, Richard Trevithick, decided to not patent the machinery, but gave the design to the public for people to make changes and improvements, free of charge. The video showed a member of Girl Talk and he was talking about the importance of sharing ideas for the sake of of everyone's benefit and further advance in an industry.

Another connection that I found between the reading and the video was the content sharing site, Creative Commons. While reading Lessig's Remix, he talks at length about the site and how it benefits everyone involved, for free, while not going outside the copyright laws. Creative Commons is innovative in that it gives creators and users tools that let them tweak, remix, and even distribute without worrying about copyright issues. The members of Girl Talk also referred to Creative Commons and the value that it carries. The site carries a sharing economy that both Lessig and Girl Talk give praise.

The last connection that I want to talk about is the overall remix culture that Lessig and Girl Talk talk extensively about. By "remix culture" they mean a mix of the commercial and sharing economies and making a hybrid economy. Since there can't be just one commercial economy and one sharing one, we all live in a hybrid economy. We share resources through complex social relations as well as pay a commercial economy for essential resources. These connections are important to know so we can do what is best for a society.

Blog Six -- Jenkins and Weinberger

While reading the beginning of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, Henry Jenkins touches on the the concepts of convergence culture. The author also goes into length about comparing our modern mediums (like technology and media) to those of the past as well as how consumers of today are act differently than fifty years ago. Near the very beginning of the text, Jenkins states that that "Each of us constructs our own personal mythology from bits and fragments of information extracted from the media flow and transformed into resources through which we make sense of our everyday lives" (Jenkins 3). With so much media entering our brains today, it is easy to get caught up with the latest information on a subject. People who have grown up within the last twenty years have been accustomed to receiving information through many outlets of media rather than just word of mouth. 

The previous quote is linked to Weinberger's view of the web and it's invention of implicit meanings people use to make sense of the world. On page 107 Jenkins stated that "The meaning of a particular thing is enabled by the web of implicit meanings we call the world (Jenkins 107)". That being said, I think we need to realize just how much technology is shaping our view of the world. It's possible that fifty years down the road we might trust technology and the information it feeds us over our own intuitions.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blog Eleven -- Two Economies

To describe the difference between a sharing economy and a commercial one, we must first define what an economy is. According to Lessig, "An 'economy' is a practice of exchange that sustains itself, or is sustained, through time (Lessig 117)." In other words, his definition is similar to my own in which there is a constant trade of resources that makes an economy such a valuable utility to use. For example, I give Best Buy $750 and in turn, they give me a brand new HD TV. To dig a bit more deeper into economies, Lessig states that there are two kinds. Commercial and Sharing economies. A commercial economy is very similar to my Best Buy example where we pay service to a business and expect to receive what we pay for. If I pay $750 for an HD TV, I want the set that is worth exactly that. Don't give me the bulky television set from the 1990's because that's not what I paid for. Since the dawn of the Web 2.0, the commercial economy has made its way online. A couple of successful commercial economies on the Internet that Lessig mentions are Netflix and Amazon. They take the movie rental and book stores from their physical locations and make them more convenient for us by putting them online. Instead of spending time and gas money, E-commerce has exploded in popularity by allowing us to have a commercial economy right at home.

The main point of a sharing economy that I found most useful was that instead of using money to trade and acquire resources, there is a set of complex social relations that govern what information is accessible. Similar to what Lessig states, "There exists not just the commercial economy, which meters access on the simple metric of price, but also a sharing economy, where access to culture is not regulated by price, but by a complex set of social relations (Lessig 145)." I think the sharing economy is similar to the wisdom of crowds and crowd sourcing where sites like Wikipedia allow us to share and collaborate information for "free". I put the word 'free' in quotations because nothing is really free. To access the website Wikipedia, one must first pay their Internet Service Provider to access the Web. Doing it on campus at the library? You pay a semester's amount of tuition to use that computer. The sharing economy emphasizes the building of connections with people. We establish relationships and expect to receive some benefit from those relationships without paying for their services, like jumping a car or quizzing each other for an upcoming test (Lessig 148).

This distinction matters to Lessig's main argument because having the two economies function side by side is vital to balancing our society of information. If we only had a sharing economy for example, I think we act similar to a communist nation (which is not my ideal living conditions). Another reason we need the two economies functioning together is understanding the relevance of the sharing economy and realizing how big it has become since the Internet. I think if we had only one or the other today, our society would not be able to properly function.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blog Ten -- Remix a Remix

This remix (Johnny Cash w/ Cypress Hill) is one of my favorite and latest remixes that I've found (specifically the guy rocking out on the bass violin). The fact that Cypress Hill's Insane in the Brain works flawlessly with such an old song is amazing. Remixes have always had a signature feel to them because the user is getting two different genres of music combined into a product that works. I'm not even a big fan of either band but this song encourages me to want to listen to more of both. This a section of our culture where we simply consume. As Lawrence Lessig stated, "There's a part of culture that we simply consume. We listen to music. We watch a movie. We read a book. With each, we're not expected to do much more than simply consume." (Lessig 36)  We consume for the fact that we constantly want more of what we like. We a hear a great band, we want to listen to the next one like it. We see an awesome movie and cross our fingers that there is a sequel next year. Consume, consume, consume. Regarding that last sentence, I would say that we aren't expected to do more than consume, but I would say we are encouraged. Encouraged to make something, like a Johnny Cash song and put a refreshing twist on it (like this remix).

Another link I saw between this remix and Lessig's points was how remixing items, like a song, can have as much effect as diversifying a culture. He states, "As the cost of inventory drops, the mix of inventory increases -- the lesson of the Long Tail...As the mix increases, the diversity of culture that can flourish in the digital age grows." (Lessig 42) Johnny Cash and Cypress Hill are two very different bands in term of music genre. Yet I imagine that both supporters enjoy this remix, which in turn diversifies and combines the two different types of music. Under the comments on YouTube, people from both generations were giving it praise and agreed it was a quality piece of work.

The final link I found between my remix and Lessig was first, realizing the true significance of a remix and second, realizing its potential positive impact on a community. On page 76 of Remix, Lessig states, "Whether text or beyond text, remix is collage; it comes from combining elements of RO culture; it succeeds by leveraging the meaning created by the reference to build something new." (Lessig 76) Relating to my last quote from Remix, I think that new creations, like this remix, is always a product of a community and a culture. Bring a community of people together will usually result in positive gains for the group. For example, Johnny Cash fans along with Cypress Hill fans could have seen this remix and exchange other significant artists' songs to each other that they wouldn't have heard before. Combining these elements of an RO culture could uncover various interests in someone's Long Tail. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Blog Nine -- Intro to a Remix

First, describe what you see as Lessig's key argument in the Introduction.

After reading Lessig's introduction and a little bit into Chapter 1, I think Lessig's key argument pertains to copyright. Specifically, Stephanie Lenz's story of how the video of her dancing eighteen month year old baby was being scrutinized for copyright infringement because it contained a song by Prince. The fact that Universal Music Group was paying a few lawyers thousands of dollars an hour to force this innocent video off of YouTube. The underlying meaning that Lessig is trying to show us is that if companies hire people to stem the production of pieces like Lenz's, how will our generation's creativity ever evolve? Personally, I think that copyright laws need to be reevaluated, especially with today's technological means of revising and remixing mediums.

Second, describe the difference RW and RO culture and why it matters to Lessig's argument.

The difference between RW and RO is that RW means "Read/Only" while RW stands for "Read/Write". In a Read/Only culture participants are not participating at all, but rather receiving information that is given to them most of the time without question. An example of this could be watching Nickelodeon when you're six years old and simply taking in what the show is presenting to you. As we grow older and the technology advances, the Read/Write culture starts to become more prevalent. In this culture, people listen, watch or read a medium of work but instead of leaving it at that, they add to the culture by creating or recreating new pieces of work. This Read/Write culture is similar to a Participatory Culture. An example of R/W culture is taking a music clip and remixing it to add your own personalized effects.

Third, why does Lessig use Sousa? 

Lessig uses Sousa for a variety of reasons. He uses Sousa for what Sousa believed in and his relativity to the current copyright era. Sousa was very adement that an artist's work was that artist's work and make sure no one else would ruin it. When the voice machines came around, Sousa was understandably worried that they would ruin the current music because they would do the job of the artist, thus taking away any creativity that a person could do. Lessig brings all of this up for us to compare the time when a machine almost ruined the music era, to the present time when machines are infinitely making new remixes and more creative/personalized products. A little compare and contrast.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Blog Eight -- Rhythm Science/Who Sampled

After reading the rest of Paul Miller's Rhythm Science, I came to the conclusion that I enjoyed reading his last half of the book better than the first. It seemed like in the first he was mostly talking about himself and personal experiences while in the second half, he connects those with today's technological and digital advancements along with what direction we are going which I was much more interested in. There were two appealing quotes that caught my eye. The first was in the section titled "Rhythmic Space" and goes like this:

"Speaking in code, we live in a world so utterly infused with digitality that it makes even the slightest action ripple across the collection of data bases we call the web." - pg. 89

When Miller makes this statement, he means one of two things. First, he says that we are "Speaking in code". We have gone from a time where people wrote letters in physical ink by our hands in order to deliver some sort of English message, to where we let technology organize different bits and bytes to form statements to a friend through Email or texts. The downside to this is that our now 'digital ink' is now public on the Internet and not as easy to just throw away. This leads me to the second part of the quote where Miller states that "even the slightest action ripple across the collection of data bases we call the web". A celebrity figure on Twitter just wakes up from a nap and tweets her thoughts, "Ah! I just dreamed that lynxes were extinct! Then where would my fur coat be?" This simple act of publishing this celebrity's thoughts may have caught the attention of PETA, who might have then spread the Tweet to national news medias and so on. It doesn't have to be a complicated act on the internet to cause a big stir. The second quote that I liked appeared in the section, "The Prostitute":

"It's a voodoo economics of the information era. You pay the price and expect to receive satisfaction" - pg. 108

I want to focus on the second sentence of this quote. In today's technological era, the human race has become a group of impatient individuals who expect instant gratification. I was on YouTube last week and when a particular video wouldn't fully load in twenty seconds, I was appalled. I mean, the website's videos always load quickly, what is going on now? As our bandwidth increases, our wait time for data decreases. When we can't get immediate access to our ON DEMAND movie that we paid for, shouldn't we get fully reimbursed for it not being ready the second we hit "Purchase"? Servers are not expected to have downtime anymore. That was ten years ago. The next quote came from "Rhythmic Cinema":

"Whenever you look at an image or listen to a sound, there's a ruthless logic of selection that you have to go through to simply to create a sense of order" - pg. 81

Especially with today's digital age, with everything amassed on the web, our brains must select what first to look at, then what to read or hear. Before we can understand the information on that computer screen we have to organize it first to make logical sense. The next quote I found was under the "Errata Erratum" section:

"With that in mind, I ask that you think of this as a mix lab - an "open system" where any voice can be you." - pg. 93

It seems to me that Miller is comparing his mix lab to the Internet and the sense that they both are "open systems" and anyone can be anybody on both. Technology has allowed us to alter our voices (for better or worse) to our targeted audience by being quoted in HTML or a song track rather than our vocal cords. The next quote came from the "The Future is Here" section:

"Once you get their basic credit information and various electronic representations of that person who needs the real thing anymore?" - pg. 101

What Miller is referring to here is the impact of social interaction on the Internet and the seemingly dehumanizing aurora it gives off. Instead of going to a bank and conversing with the teller about how much money you have or you need money put in, we have online banking where we can do both and much more. Will we ever not need bank tellers? Probably.

On the website, I chose the song 4 Myself by Mac Dre feat. Devious and Dubee. The track sampled Hall and Oates's I Can't Go for That (No Can Do).  In looking at the related songs, I find a couple connections between my song's genealogy  and a quote that I previously mentioned. After listening the Mac Dre's track and scroll down, there are about twenty other songs that all sampled I Can't Go for That (No Can Do) in their songs. It then gives me about five covers of their song, and lastly one remix I can check out to see if I like it. This site is consistent with the idea of my second quote, "You pay the price and expect to see satisfaction". This website gives you other songs that you may like based off a selection of one track. (Similar to Amazon, iTunes, etc.) The Internet has a way of making us always want more of something and uses that want to make us dig deeper into the site.