Wednesday, April 13, 2011

blog twelve

I really enjoyed watching RIP! A Remix Manifesto because it wasn’t your typical boring school movie (that most of us know too well). The filmmaker was a big fan of Lawrence Lessig, and it was interesting to see an appearance of the author in this film.

It was hard for me to think about what the blog was asking because I was so interested in the film itself. I had to re-read the assigned reading this week and refer back to my notes in order to make three connections between the film and the reading. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Intellectual Property
Lessig refers to the idea of intellectual property several times throughout his book, and I would say that it is a prominent theme in some of the sections and chapters. In a section titled “Strong Incentives Will Increasingly Drive Commercial Entities to Hybrids,” Lessig discusses this concept:
“Indeed, our intellectual biases about concepts like property lead us almost naturally to believe that the best strategy to produce wealth is to maximize control over the assets we have, including (and most important here) intellectual-property assets” (228).
This relates to RIP because the filmmaker talks a lot about the ways in which companies control what is produced, and how people are always trying to gain the maximum wealth and control of things they “own.”

2. “The past controls the future.”
This was one of the “4 Rules” that the filmmaker set up within, and I think that it is really relevant to Lessig’s ideas as well. Everyone can look at examples from the past, and see how things may or may not have worked, or how things went wrong. Lessig uses examples from the past like the CD database (or CDDB). CDDB is what Lessig describes as “mutual free riding gone bad” (237). Learning from this past example that allowed people to freely write and provide information, we now know that this probably wasn’t the best thing to do, considering it may have given people too much access.

3. Remix Culture
We know a lot about remix culture from Lessig’s example of RO and RW cultures. In this week’s reading, I can relate this idea of a remix culture to the section where Lessig describes the idea of the hybrid.
“Every company building a hybrid will face exactly the same challenge: how to frame its work, and the profit it expects in a way that doesn’t frighten the community. ‘Mutual free riding’ will be the mantra, at least if the value to both sides can be made more clear” (237).
This made me think of the idea of remix culture, because though we live in one, is it possible to truly do so if people are constantly being sued or reprimanded for remixing. Mutual free riding is something that people do when the download, share, click, etc. That is a true remix culture, but some would argue that it isn’t possible. The film refers to remix culture as well, particularly when they used the example of Brazil as a remix culture. It is a little hard for me to remember exactly what the filmmaker was saying, but I do remember how he described Brazil of a more mutual “sharing” culture.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

blog eleven

In chapter 7 of Lessig’s Remix, we learn about both commercial and shared economies. Lessig describes commercial economies as those that build their value, starting with funds. In contrast to that is a shared economy. A shared economy is what Lessig describes as an economy that builds value without regard to money.

He explains that both of these described economies are crucial to life, “both online and offline” (177).

This distinction between the two economies seems vastly important to what Lessig is saying here, due to his concept of a “hybrid economy.” A hybrid economy is exactly what it sounds like—a hybrid between a shared economy and a commercial economy. This hybrid would build upon both economies, to create one that would “dominate.”

When looking back to what we have read so far, we know that one of Lessig’s main goals is to explain how the past teaches us about value of a remix, yet the present teaches us about the new “hybrid economy.” The future will benefit both commerce and community. His website states, “that future will benefit…if the lawyers could get out of the way, it could be a future we could celebrate” (Lessig).

His title even alludes to this “hybrid economy,” which is clearly one of his main points. That is what makes his explanations of commercial and sharing economies so crucial. That distinction is what makes a hybrid economy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

blog ten

For this blog, I had a pretty good time going through my all-time favorite remixes.  I also found myself listening to some pretty bad ones on YouTube because obviously anyone can upload and share.  Despite weeding through some questionable ones, I picked my current favorite.  Right now a remix that I like is a remix by Bassnectar of the Pixie’s song “Where Is My Mind.”  I enjoy this particular song because it does not mess with the parts of the original Pixie’s version that I like, it simply embellishes upon it to add a little “dance-ability.”

Three of the statements made by Lessig seemed to correlate with the particular remix I chose.

“As the mix increases, the diversity of the culture than can flourish in the digital age grows” (42).

I thought that this passage correlated to the remix due to both of the artists that participated.  The original song, “Where Is My Mind,” came out in 2003.  While it is a little older, it has kept its popularity over time and has even gained more of a fan-base due to its spot on the Fight Club soundtrack.  The remix, by Bassnectar, has enabled this song to become even more widespread to a much larger and more diverse audience.  In fact, the more remixes the original version will go through will allow this song to be known throughout generations of people who like all different kinds of music.  

“Remix is an essential act of RW creativity.  It is the expression of a freedom to take ‘the songs of the day or the old songs’ and create with them” (56).

Now, 2003 does not seem that long ago, but when I actually thought about it, it was the difference of me being an 8th grader, and a senior in college.  That’s a WHOLE 8 years.  From middle-schooler to “adult.”  By taking an old “song of the day” like the Pixies Song, Bassnectar was allowed to create along with the original version.  Bassnectar is actively participating in RW culture and creativity.  With the freedom to do this, Bassnectar—in my opinion—is paying homage to a perfectly wonderful song, and placing it back in the limelight.

“As Johan Söderberg says, ‘to me, it is just like cooking. In your cupboard in your kitchen you have lots of different things and you try to connect different tastes together to create something interesting.’  The remix artist does the same thing with bits of culture found in his digital cupboard.  My favorites among the remixes I’ve seen are all cases in which the mix delivers a message more powerfully than any original alone could, and certainly more than words alone could” (71).

I chose this passage as my last quote not only because I think it relates, but I really liked the how the “digital cupboard” was described.  Artists out there are able to remix or sample songs based on the tools that they have that stem from software; to the actual music they have heard.  This particular song must have stood out or been somewhat memorable to Bassnectar, in order for the Pixie’s song to be used as a tool.  The last part of the quote is not necessarily true in regards to this particular song, but I do think that certain remixes can be thought of as more powerful.  It truly depends on the listener.  For instance, if someone who was solely interested dubstep, they would surely think that Bassnectar’s remix did more justice to the song than even the original. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

blog nine

I was eager to start reading Lawrence Lessig’s Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy simply because I was so ready to be done reading Miller’s book.  I understand why Miller’s book was important, and I definitely took some concepts from it, but it was a difficult read and an awkwardly shaped book!

To start off, Lessig provides the reader with an introduction that discusses issues of copyright.  Copyright, particularly in regards to music, can be a shady area with all things considered.  If a person samples a beat, or perhaps uses the same verses, how much of that can be considered copyright, and what is truly original music?  Sometimes, the listener cannot even tell if one artist is sampling another.  In my last blog, I used the example of Radiohead’s “Creep.”  Little did I know, Creep reflected a similar sound to the Hollies song, “The Air that I Breathe.”  A lot of listeners would not realize this use of “sampling,” and would not consider it to be a copyright issue.  That is exactly what makes this whole concept controversial; the things we accuse of copyright infringement, may not be what another would consider it to be.  A lot of it is based on our own definitions, though when it comes to the law, technically anything can be an issue of copyright.

Whether or not a person is sampling from another artist, I believe that it is original work if the artist has manipulated it in a different way attempting to reach a wider or more diverse audience.  As Doc Adam said in his talk during class, there is no TRULY original song.  Every song is inspired by something an artist has come across or something he or she have heard.  Lessig describes this as somewhat of a collectiveness of all things present in a person’s life.

Lessig goes on to describe two concepts known as RW and RO culture.  RW culture stands for Read/Write Culture, and RO stands for Read Only Culture.  Read/Write Culture describes when a person is able to obtain information by reading, listening, etc. and is able to use that information gained in some sort of way.  The person is actively participating in the information that they have just absorbed, and this can be their “inspiration” to create something modified than the original or new.  Read Only Culture is somewhat the opposite.  Read Only Culture describes how people can read, listen, watch, etc. but cannot use that information that they have just obtained.  In other words, they are unable to apply it to something outside of its original state.

RW and RO cultures matter in regards to Lessig’s argument because it can relate back to the issues of copyright.  If we were a Read Only Culture, we would not gain inspiration from the songs we heard or the things we saw.  Read/Write Culture allows artists to actively participate in the song creation process, and can use their inspirations and modify them to create something new.  This relates back to the main idea of the introduction.  Copyright issues can somehow keep artists from participating in a Read/Write Culture.  If they were so restricted by laws, etc. they would not be able to give their full attention and participation.

Lastly, Lessig used Sousa in his work because of Sosua’s practices.  Sousa wanted to make certain that artist’s work was not only protected, but that it was not being ruined.  He believed that the voice machines would ruin music as he knew it.  He believed that it would force culture into what Lessig describes as the Read Only Culture.  That people would listen, but not be able to participate.  Sousa is a good figure to learn from within this subject matter because the issue of copyright is still at hand, but Sousa isn’t disbarring artists from their own passions or inspirations…he is simply protecting artistic license that need it, within certain limitations.  Artists can be protected, but their work can still be used to inspire others.

Monday, March 7, 2011

blog eight

Rhythmic Cinema:
“…the selection of sound becomes the narrative” (85).
I took this quote to mean that whatever we (the listeners) choose to recognize most in the song is the one that we will interpret.  The verses or words that may be our favorite may also be the ones that speak to us the most.  Perhaps we are doing this subconsciously, but we all interpret our own meanings based on the emotions we have in regards to particular sections or lyrics.

Rhythmic Space:
…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” (89).
We live in a world that is hard to imagine life without the web.  Whether someone is posting a blog or uploading a picture, these actions become available on the web for all to see, comment on, share, manipulate, etc.  The slightest actions we do on the web may not seem important to us, but the widespread availability of information makes for a completely data-driven society.

Errata Erratum:
The flocking instinct holds the geometry of ideas together” (93).
In this part of the book, Miller was discussing artist Marcel Duchamp.  Duchamp was known for not only his ready-made art but was also known for his constant questioning of “what is art?”  By asking questions like, “what is art,” Duchamp was able to push people past their usual  realm of thinking, and truly explore their own beliefs and opinions.  Paul D. Miller likely provided the example of Duchamp because everything to do with music, art, etc. is all subjective.  This is proven by the constant questioning of works, and people’s likes and dislikes.

The Future is Here:
In a moment…the strangeness—strange mess—of global culture, hip-hop, and operating as a DJ on a global level crystallized before my eyes” (105).
I thought that Miller’s use of “strange mess” in regards to “strangeness” was really interesting.  Typically I would not interchange these words, but it makes a lot of sense in regards to the context.  Here we are with an overload of data, technology, the web, and so forth, and we are expected to not only understand it all, but also know how to use it.  DJ’s like Miller have benefitted from this so-called “strange mess” because the overload of information can allow for DJ’s to come up with new beats, sounds, and samples and can continue to grow in their music.

The Prostitute:
Messages need to be delivered, codes need to be interpreted, and information, always, and is hungry for new routes to move through” (112).
This was my favorite quote from tonight’s reading.  I think that Miller hit it spot-on when he said “information always is hungry for new routes to move through.”  This is so obvious in our culture, just look at the abundance of social media sites/outlets, photo sharing, etc.  We are always looking for the coolest and newest way to  get information across, and a good example of this could be Foursquare or Facebook’s check-in option.  Even though it is a little creepy, people still “check-in” because they want other users to know what cool thing they are doing or how much fun they are having.

After spending some time on “Who Sampled,” I chose the song “Creep” by Radiohead.  Creep samples a song that I have never heard of before, or even a band I have ever heard (!).  Creep samples “The Air that I Breathe” by the Hollies.  It is interesting to me that a song like Creep samples anything because it is unlike anything I have ever really heard.  I also find it interesting that even some of our older favorites are sampled.  Today, nothing surprises me in regards to sampling, especially because of rap and hip-hop, but a band like Radiohead surprised me.  Now that I have listened to the Hollie’s version, it does sound a little similar, and both songs have somewhat of a sad tone with sad lyrics.
I thought that the idea of sampling altogether could be related to the quote from “The Prostitute”: “Messages need to be delivered, codes need to be interpreted, and information, always, is hungry for new routes to move through” (112).  Songs become old, and newer generations either don’t have access to them or have never heard them before.  Newer, younger bands can be the new “routes” or outlets for the music or “information” to be heard.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

blog seven

 The movie we watched last Thursday got me really excited for our upcoming classroom discussions.  In what other class do you get to talk about hip-hop?  That being said, I was ready to dive deep into Paul D. Miller, aka D.J. Spooky’s book titled Rhythm Science.  We were asked to comment on the reading, with deBourgoing’s piece first in mind.

What I gathered from deBourgoing was information about how hip-hop artists have used their resources to widen their audience.  She talks about ho artists today have an ability to use different forms of media to not only promote themselves but to spread their music, especially to those who may not typically have access.  This reminded me of just how powerful social media, in particular, can be.  I am not an expert on iTunes’ “Ping,” but I do not that it is a social media tool that is correlated with music taste and preferences.  I think this is a good example of what deBourgoing is talking about because it allows users with similar music interests to find out about new artists, and music that they may like.  The only downside to Ping could be that an artist would have to be an “iTunes artist,” but I still believe that this example works well.  This online presence of artists is what can break or make artists.  The accessibility of the Internet, itself, has allowed information, music, and artists more widespread.

Parts of deBourgoing’s piece reminded me of Weinberger’s three orders, and more specifically, his third order.  Weinberger described the third order an organization that was most easily accessible, and organized in ways that a user could type in various keywords to come up with certain results.  With things like Ping, artists can be correlated with other artists due to similar sounds or beats, so if a person typed in “Tribe Called Quest,” they would get recommendations such as The Roots, Common, etc.  This is similar to a class discussion we had about Amazon recommendations.

To conclude Miller’s statements made toward the end of the reading, I would summarize it, as saying is that music is somewhat subjective.  Just like other forms of arts, people gather different meanings, have different emotions, like or dislike, etc.  Factors like these are what create the use and need for artists to use media tools, like the example of Ping.  With so many different listeners, people are bound to have completely different reactions.  Whether good or bad, these allow for more people to find the music and make them more likely to go further or search for more.  DJ’s create this sense of widespread music as well because their various mash-ups or mixes allow for specific songs within the mixes to be searched upon as well.

This last point seemed to connect to the idea of the long tail, a concept that was once confusing to me.  As we described together in class, the long tail allows for less popular or less “needed” items to still be on the minds of the audience or shoppers.  That’s pretty confusing sounding, so I will put it into music terms.  Let’s examine the song “Friday Night” by Girl Talk.  This song includes clips from Notorious B.I.G, “Tipsy”, N.E.R.D, and…the Waitresses.  If you were someone that exclusively listened to Hip-Hop, but heard that sample from the Waitresses song, “I Know What Boys Like,” you might want to download that song, and find out more about the band and their music.  Perhaps the Waitresses had been off the radar for some time, but Girl Talk has now provided that music to a new listener.  Thus, a connection to the Long Tail.  This is a little bit easier for me to explain in person, but hopefully my example helps to get the idea across.  

This is what I gathered and understand from the reading, and it makes me realize just how much a DJ’s mashup can spark interest in an unsuspected audience.

Monday, February 14, 2011

blog six

In the introduction of Henry Jenkins’s Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, the author discusses the concepts of convergence culture (weird – it’s in the title) from the past to the present.  Jenkins talks about old vs. new in terms of technologies, programs, and media and how consumers/viewers differ today. 
The convergence that Jenkins’s discusses is one that will not be resolved.  There is no answer or no way to get ahead or “no magical box that puts everything into order again.”  Instead of attempting to resolve the changes and or issues, readjustments will occur.  Instead of looking back, changes must be made in order to move forward. 
Rather than talking about media producers and consumers as occupying separate roles, we might now see them as participants who interact with each other according to a new set of rules that none of us fully understands…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).
The participation involved in the changes for the consumer will ultimately shape the new media and culture.  Jenkins’s also acknowledges that not all consumers will have skills, resources, etc. that are needed to help shape the new media culture.  This is what we know as the digital divide.  In another class of mine, we discussed the digital divide, and how certain people will be “set back” if they are unable to understand, recognize or have access to certain technologies.  Though media culture is constantly changing and being shaped, as Jenkins’s says, it will be impossible for everyone to keep up with these changes, thus the digital divide will constantly occur and the gap will be widened.

I believe that the passage we read from Jenkins had ideas that were similar to those of Henry Weinberger.  Both author’s discuss a user’s use of the web.  Though Weinberger pays more attention to the organizational aspects and how people find things, Jenkins discusses his idea that people obtain the information they wish to receive out of something.  For example, someone could provide a search for a certain film, but only to find out about a certain actor.  The rest of the page would be ignored, but the person would obtain the information they wanted.  These authors’ primary ideas dealt with usability and how the user navigates or gets information.