Archive for June, 1988

REFLECTIONS

June 4, 1988

My last post!  Goodness me.  What powerful, visceral emotions overwhelm one at a time like this…

Memoriiiees, lighttt the cornersss of my miiindd, mistttyyy water collourredd memoriessss…

Babs knows how it is

Babs knows how it is. (latimes.com)

But no, this is not time for that sort of nonsense.  Sober reflection on the creative process, coming up, NOW!

I suppose the most difficult thing about this blog has been the problem of combining academic style reflection with the whole blog aesthetic.  To be honest, this has seemed like a pretty awkward fit at times.  The problem seems to me that the style of writing associated with blogs is much closer to snappy PR writing than sober, considered academic stuff.

The fact of the matter is, people are not willing to spend a lot of time reading things on the internet. People will give up a few seconds of their day to read a post, if it is snappily written and looks interesting.  Unfortunately, no matter how well I write it, the only response I am likely to get for a 800 word reflection on Creative Commons is a roll of the eyes and a verdict of “tl;dr”. Hence, I feel we’re somewhat hamstrung in what we can accomplish here.  It just doesn’t seem that blogging’s breezy style lends itself to the kind of academic rigour we’re expected to demonstrate at University.  Anyway, I tried my best with it.

I have been fairly happy with the use of wordpress as my blogging vehicle.  It does seem a bit glitchy from time to time, and for some reason it hasn’t been letting me put alt-texts on my images lately, which has been a touch annoying.  But otherwise, it works about as well as I could hope it to.  Good job wordpress!

Unfortunately, my blog is not yet tearing up the intertubes.  There is no such phenomenon as “AlmostPlausiblemania”.  Yet.

IT'S ALMOSTPLAUSIBLEMANIA!

Not the kind of response Almost Plausible has been receiving. (anothergirl83.tripod.com)

Friends who have read the blog seem to like it, and they are usually cruel enough to tell me if something I am writing is lame.  I am fairly convinced that if I was to continue on with it, I would probably be able to find some sort of readership.  Obviously my burgeoning popularity has been somewhat hampered by my lack of regular posting.  Although I posted a flurry of “content posts” when I started the blog, I have lately been concentrating more on getting these blasted academic ones done.

I think I will probably continue with this blog once have I more time during the holidays to devote myself to leisurely pursuits.  It occurred to me that a good way of promoting the blog might be through republishing some of its content in a publication with a guaranteed audience, maybe Farrago (people actually read Farrago, don’t they?  I mean, they’re not just printing all those copies out of a undying hatred of trees, are they?)  This might seem like a kind of backwards way of promoting your blog in the era of iWeb2.0 and whatever, but I feel like it would probably be more effective than leaving sycophantic comments on other people’s blogs which conclude with “I have typed an interesting blog about this issue myself, maybe you would like to look at it ROFL”.

Thus ends my academic blogging career, and thus begins my career as enfant terrible of the satirical history blogging  scene.  Maybe.

CREATIVE COMMONS

June 1, 1988

What most interests me about Creative Commons is the remarkable similarity their logo shares with that of the Chanel Fancy Ties and Socks Emporium.  Isn’t it astonishing?

Watch out Creative Commons!  If it happened to Cut Copy it could happen to you too!

That is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Watch out Creative Commons!

You don’t agree?  Well, okay, I’m sorry I mentioned it.  I really am.
Anyway, Creative Commons.  Creative Commons is supposedly a effort by champion bore Lawrence Lessig to

increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in “the commons” — the body of work that is available to the public for free and legal sharing, use, repurposing, and remixing.

Creative Commons attempts to do this by offering content creators “Some Rights Reserved” licences, which specify exactly the way the author will allow you to re-use their work.  The licenses specify, for example, whether the author allows you to “remix” the work, whether you can share it, whether you’re allowed to use it for commercial purposes, etc.

Lessig created the Commons in order to combat what he saw as the erosion of traditional American copyright legislation.  While the US’ Founding Fathers were all about getting cultural products into the public domain, like, practically as soon as they’d been published, legislators like Sunny Bono have in recent decades shifted the emphasis towards lengthier periods of private control.  The current US and Australian laws state that copyright now resides with the author’s estate for 70 years after the author’s death.

Now, I am certainly not of the opinion that this kind of extended copyright protection is even vaguely reasonable.  Is it right that Warner Bros owns the rights to all public performances of “Happy Birthday” until at least 2030?  Surely no sane man would think so.  Is it morally correct that Men At Work should be sued for writing a flute riff that sort of elaborates on the melody of Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree?  It would be the height of insanity to suggest that this is the case.

In fact, art has always relied on just this kind of cultural reappropriation and recontextualisation.  Homer’s “Odyssey” for example, has been generally accepted as the culmination of hundreds of years of retelling and refinement of traditional Greek stories.  As Jean-Luc Godard satirically put it, if the principle of copyright extension is pushed towards its logical conclusion, then Greece might be able to find a way out of its current financial woes by charging royalties for the use of democracy, philosophy and tragic theatre.

BUT, Creative Commons doesn’t really do anything to ameliorate the fairly ridiculous lengths that current copyright law has reached.  Warner Bros is obviously not going to slap one of those double c’s on their manuscript of Happy Birthday now, are they?  Not when there’s dollars to be scrounged they aren’t, no.

As Creative Commons themselves point out, Creative Commons is not an alternative to Copyright.  That is, the rights that the author specifies in their Creative Commons license aren’t rights that they wouldn’t have if they just had a normal copyright license on their work. So, if I decide not to have a Creative Commons logo on my blog, and then somebody decides to copy one of my hilarious historical inaccuracies and republish it on their blog, that doesn’t mean that I have to sue them, just because copyright gives me that option. In fact, I am most likely to be really cool about that whole thing, because I like to think of myself as being “not a prick”.

70 years, Sonny?  Really?  Get out of it, 70 years.  That's crazy.

Pictured, from left to right: Not me. (last.fm)

Now, I guess Lessig and his pals argue that the benefit of having a Creative Commons license on your “work” is that whoever is reading it will now know exactly what they’re allowed to do with it, without fear of being crushed by The Man.  But, if you’re really that concerned about being sued, you could always just ask me for permission or something, couldn’t you?  As noted, I am really cool about this sort of thing.

As you have probably gleaned, I have decided not to put a Creative Commons license on my blog.  I just don’t really see the point.  I am most assuredly of the opinion that cultural creation doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and that all culture is basically “remix culture”, etc. It just seems to me that a better way of ensuring that cultural production is left unfettered by silly legal constraints is by concentrating on destroying said restraints, instead of tip-toeing around the edge of them.