Saturday, April 16, 2011

Blog #12

This week's reading from Lawrence Lessig's Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy has several connections to the video we recently watched in class, RIP: A Remix Manifesto. But I'll describe three..

In the section titled Strong Incentives Will Increasingly Drive Commercial Entities to Hybrids, Lessig discusses the importance of innovation and how it is an incentive that "will increasing drive commercial entities to hybrids" (228). He talks about Richard Trevithick's development of a new type of high-pressure engine in 1812 and how "instead of patenting his invention, he made his design available to all for use without charge," encouraging others to build upon it (Lessig 229). In the video, Girl Talk's Greg Gillis says its "beneficial to share ideas" and that it is this sharing of ideas that leads to innovation. Both Gillis and Lessig agree that sharing ideas leads to innovation and that sharing and building upon are essential in any hybrid entity. 

Throughout the video, corporations are discussed and said to be taking over our culture (RIP). Lessig would agree and in the section titled "Sharecropping" Is Not Likely to Become a Term of Praise, he discusses how large corporations are in fact taking over our culture. In this section Lessig describes the ongoing battle between Star Wars fans and Lucasfilm, the production company that owns the Star Wars franchise. According to Lessig, "Lucasfilm offered free Web space to anyone wanting to set up a fan home page," but if fans were to "create any derivative works based on or derived from the Star Wars Properties, such derivative works shall be deemed and shall remain property of Lucasfilm Ltd. in perpetuity" (245). That last quote was actually taken from the Lucasfilm contract, so in fact, corporations are taking over our culture. In this instance, they are most definitely encouraging a more RO culture than RW.

In the video, Creative Commons is discussed throughout. Lessig also talks a great deal about Creative Commons and how it is used to signal which kind of economy a creator is creating for (226). In this section Tools Help Signal Which Economy a Creator Creates For, Lessig highlights both the RIAA (for artists who want their art distributed according to the rules of a commercial market only) and Creative Commons (for artists who want to share their work more freely) and says that they both serve as indicators of what type of economy the artist is creating for. (226) In the video, Girl Talk and other artists are big supporters of Creative Commons and  are obviously more interested in a sharing or hybrid economy, rather than a purely commercial one.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blog #11

Both commercial and sharing economies are built upon exchange, but it is the type of exchange that differentiates them (Lessig 146). A commercial economy's focus is on the monetary value, while a sharing economy's focus is on the building of connections with people. Lessig says that "gifts in particular, and the sharing economy in general...are the glue of community, essential to certain types of relationships" (143). In a commercial economy, their is no value placed on these relationships and exchanges take place because they have to, people need goods and they use money to get them. According to Lessig, "in a sharing economy, people are in it because they like doing so, or because they like doing such things" (176). "Price is a central term of the ordinary, or normal exchange" in a commercial economy, but in a sharing economy "the single term that isn't appropriate is money" (Lessig 118). To sum it up, "commercial economies build value with money at their core. Sharing economies build value, ignoring money" (177).

The dynamics in these two types of economies are different but I think Lessig makes the the distinction between them to illustrate the importance of both them in our society. One cannot exist without the other, and that's where hybrid economies come in. They both serve different functions and the incorporation of the two will ultimately result in a hybrid economy, according to Lessig.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blog #10

JibJab's Time for Some Campaignin' is one of my favorite remixes. It samples Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin' which was originally released January 13, 1964.

Lessig says that "there are two goods that remix creates, at least for us, or for our kids, at least now. One is the good of the community. The other is education" (78-79).  This remix illustrates Lessig's claim that remix can have a significance in education. I think that this video, while humorous, also generates an interest in politics. Although it is a satire, I still think it is worth mentioning because it gives viewers a glimpse of the politics of today. Lessig talks more about "interest-based learning" but I think it is important to note that remixes that others create can also serve as educational tools.

This remix illustrates Lessig's point that "remix is an essential act of RW creativity" (56). He says that "it is the expression of freedom to take "songs of the day or the old songs" and create with them" (Lessig 56). This remix is a perfect example of taking an old song and creating with it.

Lessig talks a lot about collage in this section and I think this remix illustrates his point about the abundance of digital objects available for use. Lessig says that with digital artifacts the opportunity for wide-scale collage is very different (70) and you can do a lot more today than you could 10 years ago. Images and sounds are being taken from culture and being used to create (71). The makers of this video, or artists rather, have taken images and sounds from our current culture and remixed them in a unique way to create a video that is not only funny and entertaining, but also slightly educational.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Blog #9

Lawrence Lessig, author of Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy, talks a lot about copyright laws and the importance of "amateur" creativity throughout the introduction, highlighting also the difference between RW and RO culture. I think Lessig's key argument in the introduction is that copyright laws are a little to strict because they are regulating amateur creativity and preventing a RW culture. To portray this argument, Lessig showcases several examples of amateur creativity that have been slapped with lawsuits. For example, he discusses a video of a thirteen-month old dancing to a Prince song. The child's mother showed the video to several of her family members and friends and before she knew it, she was contacted by lawyers at Universal. It's amazing to me that Universal insisted that sharing this home movie was willful copyright infringement. In no way was this video taking profits away from Prince. But the elite didn't care. They threatened the mother with a federal lawsuit and I think that is just absolutely ridiculous.

RW stands for Read/Write and RO stands for Read/Only. In a RW culture, citizens read their culture by listening to it or by reading representations of it and then add to it as they go (Lessig 28). According to Lessig, they "add to the culture they read by creating and re-creating the culture around them" (28). In a RO culture, citizens still read their culture by listening to it or by reading representations of it, but they do not add to it. Lessig says a RO culture is "less practiced in performance, or amateur creativity, and more comfortable (think:couch) with simple consumption" (28).

Lessig uses Sousa because he was one of the first to fight copyright laws and feared a RO culture. Sousa believed that machines would lead us to an RO culture, but instead technology is leading us to a RW culture. I think Sousa's argument is really interesting and he fought copyright laws because he wanted amateur creativity to continue. A RO culture is much less interesting then a RW culture and I do believe that the elite would rather have a RO culture, but because of guys like Sousa and Lessig and technology, I think we will continue to head towards a RW culture.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Blog #8

Rhythmic Cinema
"Poker-faced, the dealer tells you, "Pick a card, any card." It's a game that asks, "Who speaks through you?" There are a lot of echoes in the operating system, but that's the point" (Miller 77). This reminded me of what Miller had said in the previous section, "Today, the voice you speak with may not be your own" (69) and ties in perfectly to what he is saying here in Rhythmic Cinema. He compares life to a "boundless-level video game with an infinite array of characters to pick from" and says that these characters speak through you, acting as your voice (77). Basically he is saying that the voice you speak with may not be entirely your own.

"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 create a sense of order" (Miller 81). This immediately reminded me of Weinberger. Weinberger discussed the use of explicit and implicit meanings to make sense of the world we live in and Miller ultimately agrees that they are important and key to making sense of any image we see or sound we hear.

Rhythmic Space
"From math to code to culture, contemporary art has shifted as well. It all seems more and more that the creative act itself is becoming a source-code like Linux where people create and add modules of thought-ware to the mix, making it all a little more interesting" (Miller 89). "Thought-ware" is the software that runs the creative process and I love that Miller introduced this word, what an interesting word that hits the nail right on the head. Basically he is saying that the creative process, because of technology, is open to people creating and adding their own thought-ware to the pot, stirring it up in an unique way.

Errata Erratum
"It's a milieu where each "musical sculpture" is unique yet completely dependent on the system that created the context" (Miller 97). Basically he is saying that each piece of music that is created is unique because someone added their own thought-ware to the mix, but is still completely dependent on the original system that created the context.

The Future is Here
"They left the Garden and moved from the finely tuned precision of rows and seat numbers into clumps and clusters of people held together only by fashion and previous social and geographic allegiance like so many particles of gas drawn together by electro-chemical valences and atomic mass" (Miller 104). This reminded me of lumping and sorting and what I think Miller means by this is that people are held together by different allegiances because of culture.

The Prostitute
"The sample is an interrogation of the meaning we see in a song, of its emotional content lifted away like a shroud from a dead corpse, only to be refitted and placed on another body" (Miller 113). Miller is talking about sampling here and basically says that DJs take out an interrogation of the meaning they see in a song and repackage it to make it different, or place it "on another body."

The song I chose to play around with on Who Sampled was Big Poppa by Notorious B.I.G. The song has been sampled by a lot of different artists which surprised me because I had no idea that it had been used so many times, in some pretty popular songs. Jay-Z and Pharrell sampled Big Poppa in Excuse Me Miss, and what's neat about Who Sampled is that it tells you when the sample occurs so you can jump right to it and listen to it. The quote I found interesting from the Errata Erratum section relates to this song because although Jay-Z and Pharrell created a new song, the piece relied heavily on the use of the sample from Big Poppa, so even though it is a unique "musical sculpture," it is still dependent on the original song that the sample originally came from.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Post #7

Marguerite de Bourgoing describes seven practices of transmedia and how they effect hip hop. She first talks about how "hip hop today feeds from both an active online and offline presence that contaminate each other" (de Bourgoing). I think this law is the most important because fans today want to feel connected to their favorite artists. Say I attend a music festival and want to know more about a new artist I just heard peform, I can hop online (on my phone of course) and immediately start following them on Twitter, finding out what they're doing after the show or where they're going to perform next. Online and offline presences have become essential in hip hop because everyone isn't always online or offline, you never know when a performance or blog is going to generate another fan so as an artist you have to be available in both realms, the digital and the real.

de Bourgoing also talks about how to be authentic yet marketable and I think that is another important law, though pretty self explanatory. Run DMC is probably the best example of this, what he did for Adidas is pretty remarkable. He STILL rocks head to toe Adidas, more power to him.

The third law, "be the change you want to see," is also self explanatory and de Bourgoing makes this point, "After the Obama election: the biggest transmedia movement to date, arguably any successful transmedia franchise is a movement" and I would have to agree with her. Movements, with the help of transmedia, are happening more and more. This hip hop movement in LA that de Bourgoing describes shows how media across several platforms can generate enough buzz and excitement to start something real special, something bigger than you or I.

The fourth law, "collaborate," is even more important and relevant today than it was when hip hop was first emerging, simply because it is now so easy to do. Hip hop in general is a very collaborate "genre." I hate that word but didn't know how else to describe it. Without a beat, all a rapper has is some dope lyrics. Without lyrics, all a producer or DJ has is a sick beat. Dope lyrics + sick beat = Hip hop gold. Technology has made it incredibly easy for artists to collaborate with other artists, producers and DJs. According to de Bourgoing, "All hip hop albums with hardly any exception, feature other artists." Collaborating has become essential in hip hop and in music in general and always will be.

de Bourgoing's fifth law is very confusing to me. I read it a few times over and still am not exactly sure what she means by "it ain't hard to tell." I would assume she is saying that the building of the story is just as important as the story itself, but I still do not see how "it ain't hard to tell" fits in..

Law six is all about women. The hip hop community is predominately male but that is slowly starting to change because of technology. Women in the hip hop community are starting to realize that if they are better marketers then they can be just as successful in the hip hop world. de Bourgoing also describes how much power women actually have in the hip hop world, saying that "you still haven't quite made it if you haven't been endorsed by Devi Dev," a female radio personality based out of LA. La Stereo, de Bourgoing's franchise, was started by her and another female. 

The seventh law, "we were scholars before colleges," describes hip hop's ever changing ways because of its lack of structure. It isn't assigned to a rigid structure (de Bourgoing) therefore "it's a reminder how oral cultures manifest themselves in ways that aren't just verbal. Hip hop is an art form that has developed its own mythology, world, and prophets within contemporary society. It is an art form that constantly references itself as well as the previous eras as expressed with the practice of sampling" (de Bourgoing).

DJ-ING IS WRITING/WRITING IS DJ-ING - In this section Miller states that, "Writing is music, I cannot explain this any other way" (Miller 57) and he basically backs it up by saying that like writing, creating music is a collaborative process that requires the use of one's own ideas but also those of others. He says, "Today, the voice you speak with may not be your own" (Miller 69) and he is referring to the fact that there are a wide array of mediums available for expression and that you may be using someone else's voice to speak, or rather you may be using their knowledge or ideas as a foundation to build upon to create your own, unique voice. Miller also talks about how culture has a significant influence on the creation of both writing and music, reiterating the fact that writing is music, and music is writing.

I definitely think de Bourgoing's arguments are related to the things we talked about during the first half of the course. We recently talked about sampling and that ties into her "collaborate" law. The first law she discusses is also related to what we have been talking about. "spread your brand: open mic" (the first law) talks about converging media and making yourself available on several different platforms at once. We have talked a lot about "convergence culture" and I think, from what I have read, that LA Stereo and hip hop in general are great examples of that. LA Stereo is incorporating film, photography, live performances, social media and other online and offline practices to expose audiences to the LA hip hop scene. Millers arguments are also related to what we talked about during the first half of the semester because he talks about how "Today's notion of creativity and originality are configured by velocity: it is a blur, a constellation of styles, a knowledge and pleasure in the play of surfaces, a rejection of history as objective force in favor of subjective interpretations of its residue, a relish for copies and repetition, and so on" and I think the reason for this technology, technology is changing the rules of creativity and originality and enabling the collaborative process to take place on an entirely new level.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blog #6

In the introduction of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, Henry Jenkins says 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" (3). This statement is directly related to the key points from Weinberger. Weinberger, with the help of German philosopher Martin Heidegger, says "The meaning of a particular thing is enabled by the web of implicit meanings we call the world" (170). Both Jenkins and Weinberger note that we use implicit and explicit meanings to make sense of our everyday lives and things.

Convergence is also a key point in the introduction (see title of book) and Jenkins offers some unique insight. Jenkins says that convergence is an old concept taking on new meanings (6) and this also relates to the key points from Weinberger because Weinberger talks about how people are becoming a huge part of the internet and contributing to its content. Jenkins says, "Convergence occurs within the brains of individual consumers and through social interactions with others" (3) and Weinberger would most definitely agree. These social interactions create "buzz that is increasingly valued by the media industry" so collective intelligence comes into play (Jenkins 4). I would say that collective intelligence is also a key point from the introduction and is directly related to the key points of Weinberger as well. Weinberger discusses metadata, the way it is collected, and how it impacts the web, pointing out that the information is highly valuable and necessary for social interactions.