Week 13

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This topic contains 24 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  John Jones 3 years, 8 months ago.

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  • #567

    John Jones
    Keymaster

    Hello, everyone; I will be providing the topic again this week.

    Rereading these chapters, I was struck by two things.

    The first one is the notion of creativity. Consider this passage from B2B

    These oddly intertwined strands—the government’s interest in artificial scarcity to justify speech regulation and the incumbents’ interest in artificial scarcity to limit competition and costs—today impair both cultural and technological creativity, to the detriment of society. (262)

    Many of the arguments in B2B and similar texts (if this kind of thing interests you, check out Lessig’s Remix) hinge on discussions of creativity: technologies allow for something that the laws have not caught up with yet, and these laws are stifling creative impulses.

    However, there is a different way of thinking about creativity. When it is against the law to drop an f-bomb on TV, this act is given a new meaning when someone like Bono does it. Similarly, when Girl Talk releases a remix album without clearing the rights of the music, this act has a meaning —as a form of protest—that it would not have otherwise.

    So, here is my thought: are the legal constraints described in B2B actually good for creativity in a roundabout way? Put differently, is it better to be “free” to create, or do artists need something to rebel against?

    If those questions aren’t compelling to you, I am also curious as to what you think about Rushkoff’s claims in this chapter. Since he wrote this book, we have had a number of opportunities to see if the “digital bazaar” really is a truth serum, and if many-to-many networks force truth to come out.

    Do you think his claims here hold up, or do they need to be modified?

    • This topic was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by  John Jones.
  • #569

    Kelli
    Participant

    According to Rushkoff, prior to the invention of media, information traveled word-of-mouth at the bazaar, or the market square. Because society desired to replicate the most important ideas, he states most communication was “based in nonfiction” and “almost entirely based in facts” (p. 101).

    His point is well taken; however, it reminds me of an illustration done by my 10th grade history teacher. He wanted to show the class how easily misinformation can spread, so he whispered a message into the ear of the first student in the first row who then whispered it into the second student’s ear and so on until the message reached the last student. This student then repeated the message out loud. It didn’t resemble the original message in the slightest.

    Although the rise of corporate capitalism temporarily halted honest communication, “we’re back in the bazaar” and honest communication prevails because of digital media (p. 105). For the most part, I think Rushkoff’s claims hold up. Misinformation can be debunked and retold truthfully within minutes, thanks to sites like snopes.com or anyone with a computer for that matter. However, if the misinformation doesn’t attract the attention of a big player or enough people, it remains online for anyone to read and possibly believe.

    • #570

      John Jones
      Keymaster

      Excellent point, @Kelli. I’m skeptical of Ruskoff’s claim here on other grounds, too. I think he might be playing fast and loose with the idea of “facts” and “nonfiction,” which are relatively modern notions. Maybe by nonfiction he means “not purposefully deceptive”; if so, I would be more inclined to agree with him. Although some people have always been purposefully deceptive, when there is an incentive against that behavior, that helps to eliminate it.

  • #571

    Toni
    Participant

    In terms of the law and creativity, I often see artists on the blog site Tumblr talking about how their art has been stolen. Sources are removed and sometimes, companies even use artists designs. Below is a link to just one of probably hundreds of incidences I’ve seen of this.

    I am surrounded by musicians. My husband use to be in a pretty popular band and he now runs a recording studio. A handful of bands are in and out of our place on a regular basis. I’ve developed relationships with some of the members and know that a few of them are looking to protect their upcoming releases, even though they aren’t signed bands. They work to create the content, and I know that the concern of it being stolen is real for a lot of them.

    I think there are plenty of issues that iconoclastic artists can rebel against. Heck, rebel against large companies taking advantage of unknown artists.

    http://supersonicelectronic.com/post/58798461913/mallory-rose-vs-ashkahn

    • #588

      John Jones
      Keymaster

      You make a good point about stealing, but I think this example is slightly different than the example I gave of Girl Talk. It is one thing to take a musician’s song and pass it off as your own or sell it, unaltered, without compensating the artist. It is another thing to remix that song into a new composition. We can (and may) disagree about how such creativity should be credited/compensated, but I would think we would all see it as different from simple theft.

  • #572

    Kelli
    Participant

    Professor Jones:

    Your interpretation of Rushkoff’s words makes sense. In taking the entire chapter into consideration, Rushkoff gives examples of fictional communication, such as little elves in trees making cookies (p. 104), so he most likely means “not purposefully deceptive” when referring to “nonfiction” and “facts.” I also agree with your statement regarding incentives and honesty. Because of the permanent nature of written words, I think most of us are more careful when communicating through letters, emails, blogs, etc. If our words are recorded permanently, they face continual scrutiny. This feature alone encourages the “digital bazaar” to act like a truth serum and should provide an incentive to speak truthfully.

  • #573

    Heather Harlow
    Participant

    I don’t think it is necessarily better to be “free” to create. Many artists believe they are more creative with self-imposed boundaries. I found dozens (and there are likely many more) of articles by artists who espouse the creative power of boundaries. Here is one such article: http://www.digitalartsonline.co.uk/features/creative-business/why-placing-limitations-on-yourself-is-key-creativity/

    It’s true that we enjoy having choices. I think this is partly because choice makes us feel like we are in control, even if the only control is a simply choice between a grape or lemon flavored lollipop. However, too many choices can be paralyzing. This overload of choices is what hinders many artists.

    Going back to the power of constraints and your Bono example, language does have more power when there is an implied (or real) set of rules. The f-bomb has more power in a setting where it is forbidden, then in a setting where it’s part of everyday language. However, I could argue that the opposite is also true. Constraints can add more power to our words. For example, I could say, “This cereal tastes like s _ _ _.” Or, if I were to restricting myself from using any expletives, I might say instead, “This cereal tastes like an overripe banana wrapped in damp newspaper.” Restrictions can force us to be creative and more completely express our ideas.

    On a related note, I partially disagree with B2B assessment of why current radio and TV broadcasting systems stay in place (p. 292). Would many in government (and really most organizations) like to control speech? Yes. But this isn’t what kept the current and outdated systems in place for so many years. First, I think we become comfortable with the way things are, whether its words that are acceptable for use in the general public or the way we think of radio. Accepted standards and a consistent experience comfort us. Second, I would also speculate that most of us don’t know exactly how radio works or the possibilities it still holds. I didn’t before reading this chapter. Before reading chapter eight, traditional broadcasting seemed irrelevant to me. With the internet, I have thousands of viewing options on a single site like YouTube. I don’t have any need for traditional broadcast television. The issues discussed in this chapter aren’t important to most people because the system has already changed.

    • #589

      John Jones
      Keymaster

      Lots of good points here. I think I had a similar reaction when I read this chapter of B2B for the first time. First, I thought, “well, our system does not make sense,” and second “that other system seems really cool. Let’s do that.”

  • #574

    Toni
    Participant

    Heather,

    You mention that a lack of boundaries allows us to feel as if we are in control, and I think that can really relate to what I said initially. While we may feel as if we are in control if we are free to create without being placed into a box, that box could ultimately protect our creations. We may be in control to create, we are not in control of the use of our creations, and that can be detrimental.

    I also think that you made an excellent point about the meaning of words being molded by the way we respond to them. Similarly, I think it can be difficult to read someone when the first thing out of their mouth in any instance is a explicit word.

    Toni

  • #575

    jfletch5
    Participant

    In reference to your first question, Dr. Jones, about legal constraints and creativity, I think that boundaries certainly help people to channel their creativity. Often, this comes in the form of resistance or rebellion and a lot of ways that people express that they don’t agree with “the system” is to be creative. I think that is in part because in an oppressive state, for example, you can’t just say you disagree with a ruling governmental party. Instead, you can express your distaste or disagreement in creative ways to obscure your true sentiments. I think this holds true for multimedia forums and legal constraints. In other words, I think that, indeed, legal constraints can lead to increased creativity. What is more, though, is that I think they can lead people to be creative in more profound ways. For example, maybe an artist does not agree with a certain law that prohibits their multimedia presence. To contest that it is necessary to be creative; however, in the process, they could also used their “forced” creativity to send a larger message of social disapproval of these laws. Simply put, they could use the legal constraints as a way to object to the system.

  • #576

    jfletch5
    Participant

    @Heather, I think you made some really interesting points! Particularly your point that too many choices can often paralyze us and stymie creativity. Like you said, we all like having choices even if they are trivial. However, when we have too many, I agree and feel like creativity becomes lacking. We don’t have the motivation to put deep meaning into our works or implant a broader message within a creative image. Therefore, I feel that the legal constraints help to produce a new kind of creativity that laws have not caught up to with multimedia creativity. It seems that these two things are in competition and reacting to each other. A law is passed limiting downloading availability, for example. In response, people become creative in order to oppose such legal restraints (like, pirating sites). These two contradictory things are linked, I think, and at competing intervals try to catch up with one another. However, that is difficult considering the multimedia world is still developing.

  • #577

    akirk9
    Participant

    John,

    I think rebellion can definitely be a source of inspiration and/or a driving force for artistic expression, but I don’t think a rebellious attitude is necessary for artistic expression. To a degree, the idea that rebellion is necessary for artistic expression seems to be too teenage-angst-y to be truly descriptive of reality. I think it is better to be free to create, but this ideal can’t be reached in the current state of things because censorship is needed to shield children from adult content. I know I don’t want to live in a world where (sexually, violently, etc.) explicit artwork is displayed for even children to see. So the laws that regulate speech aren’t good for artistic expression, per se, but they are for a common societal good—keeping age-inappropriate material away from children. Censorship is needed to protect children (and any adults who may be offended by explicit content), but it does indeed stifle free artistic expression.

    • #582

      Jon Miltenberger
      Participant

      I think one of the best examples of creativity inspired by rebellion can be seen in art styles. Realism and surrealism, for example, define themselves as opposites, in a way. They each are aided by having the other to ‘rebel’ against, to help define themselves by what they’re not. Impressionists originally started in their style of art because they felt that the traditional art didn’t accurately represent an aspect of life. It’s the difficulty brought on by existing establishment that acts as impetus for a new thing.

      In other semirelated news, here’s an article about a hacker that was recently released because they tried to hold his trial in a state unrelated to what he did. It is interesting because of what we talked about before, with how bits travel almost everywhere.
      http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/apr/11/andrew-auernheimers-weev-conviction-vacated-hacking

      Other internet news includes the Heartbleed Bug sweeping the net. It is interesting how it happened, especially with our previous lessons on security.
      http://mashable.com/2014/04/08/major-security-encryption-bug-heartbleed/

    • #590

      John Jones
      Keymaster

      @Jon, thanks for the links.

    • #591

      John Jones
      Keymaster

      @Heather, do you think the Bono example represents a case where it is necessary to shield children from adult content? It was broadcast in the evening on an adult awards show. Put differently—does all of our media (in this case, television) have to be designed to shield children from age-inappropriate material, or is there room for adult-oriented media in some situations?

  • #578

    Tim Algeo
    Participant

    I believe that creativity blossoms most when the creator is free from all constraints. Any constraint, legal or otherwise, only serves to stifle creativity. Obviously not all artistic creation is good, but I believe that we must allow the freedom for everyone to express their creativity in their own way lest we all lose our cherished freedom.
    As for the need to rebel, artists will always find a reason or a cause to rebel against.

    As far as Rushkoff’s assertion that if you put something false online then the truth will, eventually, come out, I somewhat disagree. If you put something online that is false, then you will certainly have those that point out that your statement is false, but there is also the risk that if a lie is repeated often enough, it might become accepted as a truth.

    • #581

      Heather Harlow
      Participant

      Tim,
      I agree with you that if a lie is repeated often enough, it is accepted as truth. I still occasionally receive an email forward that has been circulating for years and been declared as a false internet rumor by Snopes. Just because the truth may be found on the internet, does not mean that all users check information for accuracy before sharing. It’s quite easy to find contradictory, and/or unverified information on the internet.

      On the other hand, it’s difficult for businesses/organizations to hide behind half-truths in the digital age. The internet provides a platform for exposing the truth. In this way, the “digital bazaar” is a truth serum.

      But the same platform can also be used to propagate lies. It’s still only a communication tool.

    • #584

      Tim Algeo
      Participant

      Heather,

      I have received those same emails and I see certain posts shared on Facebook that are not true yet people still pass them along.

      I agree with you that online media does offer a platform for exposing the truth when people actually do some research to validate their argument.

    • #593

      John Jones
      Keymaster

      @Tim and @Heather,

      Re lying, I agree with you. Heather puts it well: the Internet is just a communication medium, and it does not have any more claim to truth than any other media. However, it is important (and instructive) to understand how truth is made in one medium versus another. Where truth in print comes through a process of careful vetting by professionals—editors, fact-checkers, etc.—truth is generated differently online and operates according to different standards that are worth exploring.

  • #579

    akirk9
    Participant

    Heather,

    I like your take on boundaries and artistic expression. While I understand your point and see the validity of it, I still think that it would ideally be better to be “free” to create. When I’m writing a poem, for example, I don’t think about any boundaries, self-imposed or otherwise; I just write whatever I want. I see how boundaries can be useful for inspiring certain artistic pieces that use those boundaries as subject matter, but raw, uncensored expression doesn’t have boundaries and doesn’t need them.

    • #583

      Heather Harlow
      Participant

      Alex,
      I agree that it seems like creativity and boundaries appear contradictory, but I personally don’t believe that is the case. Also, I’m considering boundaries to be different from repression: “You must color within the lines and grass is always green.” Repression breeds rebellion, which has motivated plenty of artists too.

      When we come up against a boundary, we have to be creative problem-solvers to either accommodate, circumvent or remove that boundary. Even the label of poem is a self-imposed boundary. A poem has a different format than a short story, novel or film. Individual poems often follow boundaries too; a haiku, sonnet and acrostic all have specific boundaries. Even avoiding boundaries is in itself a boundary.

      All that to ask, why can’t “raw, uncensored expression” occur within boundaries?

    • #586

      aaronlp
      Participant

      I agree of your assessment of boundaries and repression. My outlook on it is they are not one in the same, and I do not believe you need both for creativity purposes. I think they lead to two types of creativity. Repression leads to artistic expression and boundaries lead to overcoming obstacles to work within those boundaries to create new or alternatives.

  • #580

    Jon Miltenberger
    Participant

    Dr Jones,
    I agree with that assessment of creativity. I do think struggle can be an important part of humanity, and especially of creativity.
    I think that act of pushing against something, straining against establishment, certainly creates something new. By defining itself negatively (NOT the current status quo) the new result is forced to be different.

    I don’t think that’s the only way to create something new though, and that its just one type of creativity.

    Rebelling against current things does create new aspects, but new technology and art and innovation can also be created from scratch, inspired by anything else.

    So essentially, they’re both important types of creativity, and maintaining both keeps a balance of innovations.

  • #585

    aaronlp
    Participant

    I do believe that the legal constraints described in Blown to Bits foster creativity in terms of technology. I don’t think it matters to the typical artist how the government regulates the airwaves or what the FCC deems inappropriate for radio or television. They are free to create whatever they want, they just may be limited in how they can present their work or they may be forced to censor what they have already created. What I do believe that fosters more creativity for artists is hardship or oppression rather than the FCC.

    However, when you put constraints on an engineer or scientist they will be determined to find a way around them, or they will find another solution. I think this trait is inherent in most engineers. They like to fix and to invent things. Without the constraints put on them they would have no reason to come up with alternate solutions. They also naturally have laws that work against them; the laws of physics. They have no choice with these.

    • #594

      John Jones
      Keymaster

      The engineering angle is an interesting one. Do you think it matters if the constraints are natural—you cannot travel faster than the speed of light—or cultural—research into surpassing the speed of light will be punished by prison sentences?

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