Sunday, November 23, 2008

Remix - Lawrence Lessig

Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy - Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig is a Stanford law professor and was one of the founders of Creative Commons. In Remix he advocates for copyright reform that would give individuals more latitude in quoting and copying media works for personal or non-commercial use. He pulls from recent writing on the impact of the social web, quoting liberally from The Wealth of Networks (Yochai Benkler), Wikinomics (Tapscott and Williams) and Convergence Culture (Henry Jenkins).

Taking language from computing he discusses culture in terms of Read-Only culture and Read-Write culture. Read-Only culture is made to be consumed, while Read-Write culture is participatory.

Copyright law in the US gives us a fair amount of latitude to quote written texts in our own writing. Quoting electronic media within our own electronic media productions is incredibly more restricted, however. The only chance we have for legally quoting copyrighted media is through the loophole of "fair use" which is so ill-defined that a defense on these grounds almost always requires the expense of a lawyer. As such, it puts corporations at an advantage and regular folks at a disadvantage. For young people today, making media is a form of writing though. Commonly available digital tools have removed the barriers to quoting from media. Upload sites such as YouTube, Vimeo, etc have removed the barriers to sharing these media productions. The products of the entertainment industry - movies, tv, recorded music - that were once Read-Only media are now Read-Write media. Contemporary folk forms such as Anime Music Videos (scenes from anime re-cut by fans as music videos) have sprung up (see Convergence Culture). In some cases media companies have eventually come to the realization that the enthusiasm and involvement of fans is something to be encouraged rather than outright prohibited. Opening up a company's intellectual property resources can be a business strategy (see Wikinomics).

Lessig wants copyright law to reflect the common practices and technologies of today. He wants kids to be able to engage actively with the media landscape without breaking the law. He recommends decriminalizing amateur remixing or quoting and simplifying the process of getting permissions for commercial remixes or quotations.

I remember Lessig's Free Culture (2004) being kind of a chore to get through, but Remix is very readable - I picked it up a few days ago and decided to drop the other book I was reading. On the other hand it feels a little superficial. When Lessig writes that he's not concerned about the kind of tracking and analysis that Amazon does on the metrics of site visitors I wonder if he's actually serious or just trying to come off as an average internet-shopping guy for the benefit of selling his copyright argument.

By the way, Free Culture was published (by Penguin) under a Creative Commons license but Remix is published (also by Penguin) under a conventional copyright license. Sort of wondering about that.

Friday, November 21, 2008

non-fiction and periodicals

way back in august i said i would post more about the periodicals and nonfiction i have been reading. here are some things i have been reading this year:

The Dip - Godin --- a book about when to push through the hard part and get to a better place, and when to identify it as a dead end and bail, and especially about the importance of knowing the difference.

Complete Idiot's Guide To Weight Training - multiple authors --- Been doing resistance training twice a week.

Own A Racehorse Without Spending a Fortune - Metzel --- Am somewhat interested in the horse business. turns out there are three businesses - breeding, pinhooking, and actual racing, which may or may not include claiming. pinhooking is buying a young horse and selling it as soon as it has won a race or two.

(Sound) Mag - I am a columnist for this regional music mag now...

Concert Tour Production Management - Vasey --- just started this one...

This Business of Concert Promotion and Touring - multiple authors - again, just started this one...

From Option To Opening - Farber --- One of my clients wrote a piece of musical theater, so I'm learning about this...

Tour Smart and Break the Band - Atkins --- Some good stuff in this book, and some total crap.

Narcotics Anonymous Step Working Guides --- I am in a weekly "step study" group studying this book...

The Lawn & Garden Owner's Manual - Hill and Hill --- I have never had a lawn and garden that I cared about before now, so I have a lot to learn...

Total Heart Rate Training - Friel --- trying to make my running more efficient and get greater gains from my training

You Can Do It! Make Money With Horses - Blazer

Become a Winner Claiming Thoroughbred Race Horses - Specogna

Investing In Thoroughbreds Strategies for Success - Kirkpatrick

Artist Management for the Music Business - Allen --- since this is my new fulltime job, of course I am interested in reading everything that is out there on this subject...

Performing Songwriter --- cheesy looking magazine that actually has great interviews with songwriters about their actual creative process, and a lot of other crap too

American Songwriter - slightly less cheesy but similar to PS above...

Portland Spaces --- magazine

Realms of Fantasy - magazine, kind pulpy even though it isn't on pulp

Tape Op mag

Giant Robot Mag

Paste mag

No Depression --- before they stopped

Sing Out! --- awesome mag in the deep folkie tradition

Sponsorship - NAWS, inc --- a book about sponsorship in Narcotics Anonymous

Essential Chest and Shoulders - Brungardt --- another book about weightlifting

Fantasy and Science Fiction - 60 year old sf pulp mag, like a great anthology every month

The Noahide Code - about the seven laws that all righteous non-jews should observe, according to Judaism - an older set of rules than the 12 commandments

Complete Idiot's Guide to Core Conditioning, Illustrated - Hagerman --- core conditioning is the most important part of my training regimen, because due to my bad back, i have neglected my "core" for many years

This Business Of Artist Management - Frascogna and Hetherington --- years ago when i started in the record business, "This Business Of Music" was the basic text that guided me through the musiz biz's esoteric laws and customs, so this seems like a good resource now that I am a music manager, no longer a record label dude...

Narcotics Anonymous - NAWS, inc --- The Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous, perhaps the most important book in my life

iPhone: The Missing Manual --- this was helpful to find functionality in my iphone that i didn't know about

The Journal Of George Fox - Fox --- a very important figure in the early days of Quakerism

A Chosen Faith - Buehrens and Church --- About the Quaker religion

Just For Today - NAWS, Inc --- book of daily "affirmations" from NA texts and members...

The Noahide Laws: Understanding Humanity's Obligation to God - Toney --- More about the Noahide laws (Judaism is my favorite world religion but I am not interested in coverting, so I am instead interested in what Jewish thought and law says about gentiles)

The Path Of The Righteous Gentile - Clorfene and Rogalsky --- more about the Noahide Code

The Rainbow Covenant, Torah and the Seven Universal Laws - Dallen --- more about the Noahide Code

Sports Illustrated --- mag

The New Yorker --- this and the new york times have been my constant companion through my whole adult life, but I miss Tina Brown

The New York Times --- see above

An Introduction To Quakerism - Dandelion --- another book on Quakers, this one is both about the history and the ideas and the movement as it exists worldwide today.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

Read Nobel Prize winning author Doris Lessing's classic work, the Golden Notebook, online here, in an interactive, critical format.

What is this?
It’s an experiment in close-reading in which seven women are reading the book and conducting a conversation in the margins. The project went live on Monday 10 November 2008.

Why are you doing it?
It’s part of a long-term effort to encourage and enable a culture of collaborative learning.

What do you hope to learn?
We don’t yet understand how to model a complex conversation in the web’s two-dimensional environment and we’re hoping this experiment will help us learn some of what we need to do to make this sort of collaboration as successful as possible.

And here is the rest of it.

George Being George

As literary lives go, Plimpton’s was a doozy. Well born, well bred, the father of four, a witness to the great, the good and the gifted, he epitomized the ideal of the life well lived. He sparred with prize­fighters and competed against the best tennis, football, hockey and baseball players in the world, and along the way he helped create a new form of “participatory journalism.” He palled around with Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal and William Styron, and drank with Ernest Hemingway and Kenneth Tynan in Havana just after Castro’s revolution. He also edited and nursed that durable and amazing literary quarterly, The Paris Review, which published superb fiction and poetry and featured author interviews that remain essential reading for anyone interested in the unteachable art of writing.

New oral history biography of George Plimpton out now

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Smart Mobs - Howard Rheingold

Smart Mobs - Howard Rheingold
[...] many-to-many media confer a power on consumers that mass media never did: the power to create, publish, broadcast, and debate their own point of view. (197)
Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs looks at how networked communications technologies are changing the way we live. Rheingold is focused on the transformative possibilities - increased participation in civic discourse and the creation of collaboratively created shared resources - but tempered with some skepticism about the implications.

He does not focus exclusively on the Internet but rather incorporates several related emerging technologies. He starts out with "Technologies of Cooperation," looking at origins of human cooperation. In subsequent chapters he discusses wireless internet, mobile technologies, pervasive computing (embedding processors in everyday things) and how trust and reputation are managed on online platforms such as eBay and Slashdot.

How have these technologies altered the way we live? One example is the way that cellphone voice communication and texting have changed our ideas of time and punctuality ("Is anything happening there yet?") ("Call me when you get here").

The style is accessible, if a bit breathless, with Rheingold framing his research as a personal journey. He's at Shibuya crossing in Tokyo watching crowds of people texting while crossing the street, then at a meeting with a developer in a high-rise, then hanging out in Helsinki... Smart Mobs was published in 2000 and the tone in some parts of the book is a tad dated already -texting and wireless Internet don't seem as amazing in 2008 as they did when he was writing - but the insights are still relevant. Despite a tendency toward techno-uptopianism, this is the best, most readable introduction to these topics that I've come across.

PDF article by Rheingold on cooperation and technology

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dust Falls On Eugene Schlumberger

Scottish born, London reared writer Shena Mackay is in today's Guardian. She won the Booker Prize or was maybe nominated for one in recent history, for a book i didn't read...i do recommend Dust Falls On Eugene Schlumberger/Toddler on the Run (1964) and the Music Upstairs (1965). She was a teenager when these were written. Her early work reflects a distinctly mod(ern) female alienation and is set in South London. Music Upstairs is like what Julie Christie-as-Liz in Billy Liar might experience after she starts her life in London.
Trivia: Shena Mackay was on the cover of Jigsaw # 5 1/2 (1994). Thanks to Huggy Bear for introducing me to her. Thanks to Comet Gain for keeping her in the mix.
And here is the rest of it.

Friday, November 7, 2008

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks

Attention Beat Lovers: Long lost William Burroughs-Jack Kerouac crime novel based on Lucien Carr has been published. It's supposed to be good! .

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Carolyn Chute: The School on Heart's Content Road

Carolyn Chute, author of The Beans of Egypt, Maine has a new book out. It was reviewed in the New York Times today. It's called The School on Heart’s Content Road and is available to request at yr local library. from the article:
I love people,” she went on, “but I don’t do so well in a system. We’re poor, and we lead a very different kind of life. We depend on other people so much. They come and bring us vegetables or whatever, and sometimes they tell us their secrets. They love Michael because he doesn’t look down his nose. If we’re in town, we’ll just sit in the parking lot all day, talking to people. That’s the way we see life: your community is your survival. And if you live in a small community like this, even the people you hate you have as friends.”
And here is the rest of it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

My Current Reading List

Hello Bumpidee Readers!

I've been putting off posting about what I'm reading because the only thing I've actually managed to finish in the past month is another unsatisfying memoir but here is a hopefully brief list of what I've reading and/or thumbing through in recent weeks:

1. Cities of Salt by Abdelrahman Munif I am currently on page 64 and have been reading a chapter a day every few days for a week or so. It's really amazing so far....only 520 pages left to go, ha.

2. Today I read Admiral, a short story by T.C. Boyle. It starts off really great--this woman who has just graduated from college on scholarship finds herself back at her old high school job as a dog sitter for rich people. Nothing has changed, except her and the dog--it is a clone of the dog she used to care for. They hire her for $25 an hour plus full benefits because they are determined to recreate their dog's formative nuturing experiences. The premise is the best part of the story. It doesn't really go anywhere with this idea, but it's an interesting scenario to contemplate. I appreciated the race/class analysis in story about the ethics of technology/life. It's sort of the Mary Shelley Frankenstein theme, but updated to a reflect the mundane reality of working at a crappy job. That Boyle uses the worker's perspective to tell the story makes it sorta interesting.

3. I am also readingCity of Widows: An Iraqi Woman's Account of War and Resistance by Haifa Zangana, at an extremely slow pace. This book is very short, but extremely depressing. I feel an obligation to finish it, so I will do so and post a review some time in the next month of two, but it's very sad and so terrible to face the reality of how the U.S. war in Iraq has impacted people's lives. The focus here is on women, so it's really hard not to totally empathize, which is super heavy and fucked up. I find that it is really hard to get out of bed when I am in touch with the reality of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. I know that I am not alone in this, but I also don't know what to do. I really hope Obama wins, but even more than that, I hope that he wins and that he is able (and willing) to do what it takes to end this immoral, brutal occupation.

4. I checked out a few more books along the lines of City of Widows, but really haven't managed to get through any of them. They will probably go back to the library unread, solely because I can't face the world. I will try and read them at some point when I m feeling more solid. They are: My Guantanamo Diary: The Detainees and the Stories They Told Me by Mahish Rukhsana Khan and
One of the Guys: Women as Aggressors and Torturers
Edited by Tara McKelvey.

5. Poems by Stevie Smith and Mahmoud Darwish. Letters by Allen Ginsberg.

6. More graphic novels by Alan Moore and the Hernandez Brothers from the library. Yay for graphic novels being available through the public library system! I love these authors/artists soooo much that it is indescribably exciting to keep reading more and more of their work as the years go by. I remember how Love and Rockets changed everything. Reading fiction like this gives me faith in the power of the imagination. I truly believe some of the best fiction is being done in this format, it's still really exciting to me and I've been reading comics my whole life.

7. On top of all this, I just got another book of short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri and a copy of Decolonizing Methodologies by Linda Tuhiwai Smith.

Clearly not all of this will get read in it's entirety, but I am delving into this stuff deeply, exploring ideas, forming questions, seeking answers. Listening to how people tell stories, to the stories themselves and learning so much every day. You don't have to finish every book to learn from them. Sometimes throwing yourself into everything at once is a way to figure stuff out. I probably do that too much, but I've been pretty focused on my work lately, so I think it's productive for me.

I'm also still reading Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine (which no one commented on so I stopped writing about) as well as The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World by Vijay Prashad, which is just really slow reading as I have to take all these notes. I guess I could post some of those when I have time.

Oh, the book I actually finished was Life with My Sister Madonna by Christopher Ciccone. It is hella trashy and I read it all in a single day. It made me feel really gross, but it was totally engrossing, ha. More soon I hope.

Thanks to everyone for keeping things going. I've been distracted because school started and I'm trying to learn how to speak Spanish, which if you are serious about, takes a lot of time. I also started a music blog in the form of my fanzine Jigsaw, here. Other than that I've been working and taking guitar lessons. Looking forward to a productive winter, full of reading and writing!!!!