Creative Freedom

Newbie Blogger Initiative 2012 logo. Typography over image of dragon, monitor, and mouse

NEWBIE BLOGGER INITIATIVE, 31 MAY — Wow, month’s end already! I’d like to do one more piece for the fabulous Newbie Blogger Initiative, and it should probably be one of my most passionate topics, Creative Freedom, sometimes called Intellectual Property, although I personally reject that term. I reject that term because I believe

If it’s intellectual, it isn’t property

If I have one bottle of beer, I can drink it, or give it to you, I can’t do both. That’s the nature of physical objects or commodities or property. But if I have knowledge I can share it with you and still have it myself, in fact the act of sharing, rather than “draining my brain,” probably develops my knowledge even further. If it’s intellectual it isn’t property, or shouldn’t be.

Before I go off any further into the philoshopy, here’s the mechanics of the 8 most commonly used licenses: from the most restrictive Copyright All Rights Reserved to the most open Public Domain and in-between those 2 extremes, the 6 flavors of Creative Commons license.

It’s always your right to use Copyright ARR or PD, and peeps do use both every day, but in my probably not that humble opinion, I’d avoid both in favor of one flavor or another of CC license. On the open end, I don’t see the need for Public Domain, when Creative Commons Attribution is a totally open license, it simply acknowledges that there was an author. On the closed end, to post work online and label it Copyright ARR is to say that no one can show your photo or poem on their website or blog. Just for myself that kind of 20th century total control is unrealistic in the cloud age. If you want your work that locked down, perhaps you don’t want to post it on the Internet at all. With a Creative Commons Non-Commercial No-Derivatives license you require that peeps:
• Never sell your work
• Never modify your work
• Always credit you for the work
but you do allow that they can share your work, that is they can post your photo, poem, etc on their website, blog, etc, as long as they’re not monetizing or modifying your work and they are giving you credit. That’s pretty much why you posted online anyway, so that feels right to me.

The Creative Commons “Choose A License” page really simples this up for you

As you’ll see, they just ask you 2-1/2 questions:
1. Can peeps use your work commercially? (can they make money off your stuff)
2. Can they modify your work? (derivatives or remixes)
2b. If yes, do you want them to “share alike”

Your answers to these questions generate 1 of 6 possible licenses. I’ve already described the most restrictive: CC Non-Commercial, No Derivatives; and the most open: CC Attribution.

Actually, all 6 flavors of CC license are “attribution,” the CC-A license is just called that since it’s the only requirement with that license. Even though Copyright ARR is very restrictive, it actually doesn’t require attribution, as long as I pay you, I don’t necessarily have to credit you, although some countries additionally have a “moral right” of attribution.

All 6 CC licenses provide for 2 things Copyright ARR does not: 1. Attribution to the artist, and 2. the ability to share, under commercial or non-commercial terms.

If you’re a Free Culture zealot like me, CC-Attribution is the best way to let your work go as far as possible. With a more restrictive license, peeps can always ask for further permission. For example, even though Flickr is awesome for offering choices on your license, the Flickr default is, unfortunately, C-ARR, so for the myriad Flickr users who never actually pick a license, all their work is locked under C-ARR, never to see the light of day.

Sometimes I’ll go find a bunch of Flicker images that I might use in a lecture. I’ll download a bunch to my desktop, figure out what I want, and then if they’re not CC licensed, I can contact the artist for permission. Everyone I’ve ever contacted to show their C-ARR pix at the university has both said yes, and never asked me for any kind of fee. But even though I do get permission and it, in my case, costs nothing, it can often take a week to get that permission. Unfortunately many of my lectures are prepped less than 12 hours before giving them. So for me the power of peeps licensing their work with a CC flavor is that I don’t have to put in all that time, I can just go.

That’s also a big difference between a textbook publisher and a individual. Besides obscene profits, one reason your Art History textbook is so expensive is they have a whole “Rights Clearance” department to track down and secure the rights for the work they want to print. An individual like myself or someone wanting to do a YouTube remix isn’t realistically going to have that kind of time, regardless of the expense.

image of photo on flickr with Creative Commons license and Getty Images links circled

Logan Campbell’s awesome “Heart” photo. Notice the simultaneous Creative Commons licensing, and link to Getty Images for Commercial Use.

Speaking of Flickr, they let you pick your C-ARR or CC Flavor license and they also let you set up a link to license your images through Getty Images. This is a crazy cool scenario because it means you could license your Flickr pix:
Creative Commons Non-Commercial
Click to license through Getty Images

What that means is:
1. If you aren’t making money, then you have permission, take it, go, do, give me credit.
2. If you are making money with your textbook sales, advertisement, etc, then click-thru to Getty and pay me a little something

This rocks because it means that nobody’s going to sit around waiting for you to get back to them. Once they love your pix, they’re always just a click away from being able to use them. Further it lets “fellow amateurs” use your work for free, and simultaneously specifies that pro / commercial peeps share the profits with you. Pretty cool!

(As an academic, I might be able to use C-ARR work in my lecture under the “Fair Use” provision, but this post is already long enough, so let’s save the topic of Fair Use for some other occasion. Oh, and BTW, this is as good a time as any to point out that I AM TOTALLY NOT A LAWYER. All this info is accurate to the best of my knowledge, but I am not A lawyer and I am not YOUR lawyer, and my understanding could be in error or out of date, so do be sure to verify any important info! 🙂

AKA No Remix. This means you can take my Photo, Poem, Music Video, etc, and place it on your website or wherever, but you don’t get to mess with it. No photoshopping your face on my body. No mashing up Notorious B.I.G. and Miley Cyrus to make your Party and Bullshit in the USA remix.

You already know my personal preference is CC-A. I’d encourage you to think about letting peeps make derivative works, that’s really the spirit of the web and the internet and if you block that you’re locking down a lot. But yes, that does mean somebody else’s head or body could wind up on your body or head, so share freedom and creativity with some caution.

If you do allow derivative work, do they have to “share alike?” This one is a little confusing. If I license my work CC-SA or CC-NC-SA, I’m allowing you to remix, and saying that you must use the same CC-SA or CC-NC-SA license. At first this seems cool, I made this CC-SA work and I want anything that flows from it to stay that way. The only catch is that by me dictating the terms for the license of your derivative work, you might be mashing up more than one source and there are actually all kinds of licenses out there, so it could be that 2 open works both have pretty free terms, but not identical terms, so 2 works with SA provisions might be impossible to mashup, even though it was the author’s intent to allow precisely that. So for me to specify the license for your derived work is a little bit of a “viral” act. Then again, I’m trying to help peeps pay this creative freedom forward…

Screen Shot of Creative Commons Non-Commercial license

If I wasn’t such a Free Culture zealot, the license that I might like a lot is CC Non-Commercial. From my personal perspective, Copyright is bad law. (yes, I do appreciate that it helps lots of artists earn a living) and what I like about CC-NC is that it simultaneously creates a new community, without letting the old community plunder you.

With CC-NC you allow derivatives, but not commercial, for profit use. Another way of putting this is that when you post your YouTube video, or Flickr photo, or CCMixter audio track, you’re saying, “if you want to use it here, in this new community that we are building and sharing together, awesome, knock yourself out, go nuts, give me credit. But, if you want to sell it to old media: The New York Times, NBC, Disney, well then you can come back and talk to me and sure you can pay me some of that money. So in a way I think CC-NC is a great “community building” license.

One reason I personally prefer CC-A is that I’d just like the work to be as easy to go anywhere as possible. I don’t want you to have to wait for me to reply or to have to track me down or to wait till I’ve been dead for 70 years. I’d like my work to be shared as freely as you care to share it any time you like.

When those Martians stuck their DNA on rocks and threw them into space, eventually landing on earth and eventually evolving into Homo sapiens (yuck yuck) they didn’t stamp the rock “call Mars before using” this just threw their “creative” message in a bottle and said, go, do, build a richer universe.

Oh, and since this is the Newbie BLOGGER Initiative, I’d say that you should totally have a page called “About” and it should give all the info on your terms. What your license is, how to be in contact with you for further rights, etc. Oh, and as an aside, your About page, IMHO, ought to have your name. I’m way not Facebook or Google+, I don’t care what name you put on your About page, but give me something to call you. I’m shocked at how many blogs I can’t figure out what to even call the author! 😛

kk, have I confused the living crap out of you yet?
Ask questions below! 🙂

R E L A T E D . M A T E R I A L S

Creative Commons / Choose a License

Logan Campbell’s Heart photo on Flickr

iRez’ About page

Newbie Blogger Initiative


Tags: , , , , , ,

Categories: Blogs, Free Culture

Author:Vanessa Anne Blaylock

As a Virtual Public Artist my work invites virtual communities to express their identity, explore their culture, and demand their civil rights.

16 Comments on “Creative Freedom”

  1. Dividni Shostakovich
    Thursday, 31 May 2012 at 15:49 UTC #

    Hi Vaneeesa,

    Great summary. I’d like to add two comments. In addition to the more or less moral decision on how freely you want your work to be used (in your case, because of your strong advocacy of free culture, to the extent of only requiring attribution), there’s also the question of the natural of the work, especially regarding derivative work. A photographer may really want to see how others use her photos in mash-ups, for illustrative examples, and so forth, and a musician may want to encourage people to use her music for videos and sampling. So they have some incentive toward less restrictive CC licenses, in particular toward allowing derivative works. A writer, however, may face tough problems, because allowing derivative works frees people to damage the quality and integrity of the writing or completely distort a writer’s views. For this reason, since writing is my metier (so to speak), I do not allow derivative works.

    My other comment concerns not what permissions we may want to give, but rather what rights we already have to use others’ work. Copyright — All Rights Reserved doesn’t bar *all* uses without permission: it’s crucial for us to defend FAIR USE, and resist the incessant encroachments upon it. There’s fantastic work being done in this area. Four different factors affect judgments on “fair use” — there is no strict rule about it. The amount used *may* be important, but increasing focus is on “transformative” use. So, for example, parody is protected, as are many less radical transformations. It’s a squishy area but a vital one.


    • Thursday, 31 May 2012 at 18:20 UTC #

      aww, thanks so much Dividni. I do see your point about Images & Sound perhaps being different than text. Then again, look at how many ways people have “remixed” Hamlet over the years. Do we need all those new versions? Bill’s original is still pretty solid. Still, I am glad I live in a world where peeps were able to try all that. And that Hamlet is such a living work that peeps are interested in remixing it. Which may well lead to interest in reading or seeing Bill’s original again.

      On Fair Use, yes you’re right. It is hugely important and it is always under siege. I didn’t want to lengthen and confuse my already long and confusing post by going into it but I agree with you, it’s important to defend it. Unfortunately DMCA take-downs do the opposite. When a corporation says an individual user has infringed their copyright, YouTube or whoever just takes that work down. It’s up to the individual to sue Sony or Universal and prove Fair Use. Perhaps it should be the other way around, perhaps Sony, Universal, et al, should have to prove it IS infringement before YouTube et al take down their users’ work.

      Probably the funniest and most insightful commentary on the erosion of Fair Use and the abuse of DMCA takedowns is, of course, from that master of 21st century new media and rights, Adolf Hitler:

    • Thursday, 31 May 2012 at 18:37 UTC #

      Oh, and, different point, but I was scrolling thru the post and I stared at Logan Campbell’s beautiful photo some more – which BTW, I cropped (derived) so it’d fit this post and you could still read the rights info on the right, so do visit his even better looking original:

      Anyway, what makes that photo so compelling?
      1. The woman’s beauty and calm elegance
      2. The “heart” dress
      3. The window-light-like lighting
      4. The glorious bokeh

      Even though I think Logan Campbell is a pretty wonderful photographer, he is not the “author” of the woman’s poise and grace, she is.

      He is not the “author” of the lovely “heart” dress, some unknown (to us) fashion designer is.

      He found, but did not create, the afternoon light, “god” or “nature” did.

      The compelling bokeh is probably because he’s using a 200mm or so Canon lens, the “author” of which I suppose is the multinational corporation Canon Inc., which was founded in Tokyo in 1937.

      Campbell had the eye, the skill, the previsualization, the creative and technical abilities to bring all these elements together in his successful image, but you could say that he’s really remixed all these already beautiful works of art to make his new, derivative work. You might almost say that it is the nature of the human race, of creativity, and of culture that

      All work is derivative

      • Dividni Shostakovich
        Friday, 01 June 2012 at 00:44 UTC #

        That’s one of the best versions of that parody I’ve seen yet! I particularly like the fact that it “swipes” lines from previous ones. (I’ve heard the film director enjoys these parodies, the corporate owner notwithstanding.) YouTube and Google are so ridiculously spineless.

        “Hamlet” is a complex case, as are all plays, partly because it’s in the public domain, but more importantly because cutting, revising, transfiguring and adapting plays is about as old as playwriting itself. I think very few playwrights expect their work to always be performed exactly as written (although I think the Samuel Beckett estate gets cranky about that). In contrast, I think a poet could be justifiably upset if someone played around with one of her poems that way.

        On a certain level, actually, I think all performances of a playscript and adaptations of (say) a novel for stage or screen are transformative and from that perspective come under fair use. But here’s the problem: the practical reality is that under capitalism, writers would be screwed even more royally than they already are if performance rights weren’t protected. If a writer publishes a novel with an attribution-only license, and then someone adapts it into a movie and makes $50 million bucks off it, the author can expect not a penny. That’s a risk, but clearly a risk that a writer would have to take consciously by choosing that license over another. Would it be legal? Yup. Would it be moral? Well….

        As I see it, Creative Commons and similar licenses are a *great* workaround for what are clearly outdated, unworkable, and sometimes thoroughly absurd copyright laws — but in the end, the problem isn’t the stupid laws, but capitalism. Which is another read on “if it’s intellectual, it isn’t property.” (And takes us back to that hilarious video!)

        Sorry, I’ve wandered way off your basic goal, which was to inform readers of the ease and value of CC licenses! Apologies if I’m overly editorializing; CC licenses are invaluable even if one disagrees with my take on them. But to me, freeing culture is so crucial, it’s crucial to consider the larger context.

        Thanks again!


        • Saturday, 02 June 2012 at 02:32 UTC #

          Hey Divi, no apologies necessary! Actually you didn’t take the disc OFF track, but rather put it ON track! 🙂

          My original intent was to do a short bit on the tech aspects of the different licenses… and then much more on the “philosophy” or meaning / value of them… both from individual and cultural perspectives…

          But the tech stuff wound up being pretty long… and my “tech” description wound up having a lot of “philosophy” in it anyway… so I really just skipped that “culture” part… and you’ve essentially helped get to the part that really matters.

          The tech part, void of cultural implications, is pretty simple after all… no matter how complicated I managed to make it sound! 😛

          Yes! I agree with you… it’s all back to capitalism! haha — almost everything traces back to Capitalism or Overpopulation! Well, sometimes things trace back to the Ottoman Empire… but usually to Capitalism or Overpopulation.

          I’m hoping to do a post on Gamification pretty soon. I actually think gamification is a lot like Capitalism. Both are really powerful, but also really dangerous. Both are hugely motivating… but both have a tendency to promote “wrong values.”

          The classic “rot of capitalism” tale is you have a spouse & kids… you start a career to support them… you become obsessed with career and money… your spouse leaves you and your kids hate you.

          Basically you let the money (the means) replace family (the motive)… so your motive has become something that was only supposed to be a tool to achieve that which you used to think really mattered.

          Gamification is the same story. It’s hugely motivating and promises to make boring tasks fun… but it also replaces intrinsic motivation with extrinsic motivation. So you used to donate money to save the rain forest or the whales or whatever you cared about… but after your favorite non-profit Gamifies… so they can compete with fucking zynga on facebook which is stealing all the free minutes their donors have… you eventually donate money to the rain forest FOR THE EXPERIENCE POINTS / Street Cred / Web Badges… and just like the work-a-holic hated by their kids… the Rain Forest / Whales fade to background…

          That’s a little simplistic… but I do think it’s real.

          On your CC-A novel that just became a hit movie. This is really where I think CC-NC comes in. It’s the license that lets you have it both ways.

          However… I also think there are a couple of fallacies here…

          A Jerry Bruckheimer film doesn’t make 50m because of a brilliant script (though obviously it might have been a mistake for JKR to release Harry Potter CCA) A Bruckheimer film makes 50m because he’s a monumental Hollywood player and as long as he can get actors like Johnny Depp, SFX houses like Digital Domain, etc, any words scribbled on a cocktail napkin are probably enough…

          I don’t mean to dis writers AT ALL… but Bruckheimer IS NOT waiting for your novel to arrive. So yes for a major work, CC-NC might make sense. But most likely no one will come knocking. If you want to sell a novel, you might want to go down those avenues. If you want to create a web following to build a blog audience or prep a Kickstarter drive… CC-NC works fine for that, but the real point is you aren’t in the NY-LA spectre now… you’re In The Valley.

          (and The Valley cares a lot about IP too… but anyway…)

  2. Saturday, 02 June 2012 at 01:43 UTC #

    I’ve had my own unfortunate experiences with plagiarism that I’ve tried to gather more info on the matter, and I was thinking about asking you to do a run down, and now I see you did, all on your own, thank you!

    There’s one thing with CC that I’ve not quite understood and it’s the “copy” part of it. That if you have a CC license, everyone is free to copy paste your entire thing (of course as long as they attribute). I’ve never actually seen anyone do it in the blogosphere. I’ve seen reblogs, which make a lot of sense and I plan to do that more myself, but not entire copies.

    We had a short talk about dual content, and you wrote the post “Personal Repository” which dealt with SEO etc. How does CC and SEO work together? They seem to be in opposition really?

    I’m just wondering if there’s an unwritten rule out there, that copying (incl attribution) is not that cool, you might get more readers, but they could also have just linked to you instead of posting the whole thing on theirs? Maybe less people bother following the source?
    I suspect a lot of bloggers would not like to see their stuff reposted as dual content, even if they had the CC license on, which allows this.

    My apprehension with CC lies on this point only, derivatives and all that, cool with me. But copying when it’s already freely available on my blog confuses me, I’m only a link away.
    I would love to hear your comment in this Vaneeesa 🙂

    • Saturday, 02 June 2012 at 03:13 UTC #

      I guess CC & SEO are kind of… hmm… different Axes. In a way SEO is an artifact. In one sense the point of SEO is to game Google, Bing, etc to get undeserved rankings. There are many peeps who’ve said you should ignore SEO and just do good work… “if you build it, they will come”

      This is also why Google et al never actually release their algorithms, because they could be gamed. So you get hints and guidelines.

      So trying to “cheat” SEO with excessive keywords and all the other tricks we might call “bad SEO” but the “good SEO” would be not “cheating” but just making sure you aren’t “shooting yourself in the foot.”

      So, for example, you should have ALT tags on your images, and they shouldn’t be “captions” which is a separate thing… but they should be descriptions of the image itself… this does 3 good things
      • Helps the visually impaired understand your post
      • Helps peeps with text only browsers understand your post (can’t be too many of them left??)
      • Helps webcrawlers know what you have – and can help your post / your images appear more often in appropriate search queries.

      So taking an extra minute to do good ALT tags would be “good SEO”

      as for CC and sharing, yes ALL CC licenses allow you to share. It probably works better if you think not of blog posts, but of music.

      If I like a song, what I probably don’t want to do is get out a pen, a bottle of ink, some parchment, and postage stamps, and then write you a note describing how much I like Toxic by Britney Spears and that you should pedal your bicycle to your nearby WalMart and buy her CD and see if you also like the song.

      Yeah… I probably don’t want to do that… I probably just want to email you the MP3… or have you torrent it from someplace and LISTEN TO IT ALREADY!

      Today, of course, everybody’s everything is on YouTube anyway, so that point is less pressing, but that’s where the spirit of sharing comes in.

      Also imagine if I buy a novel from Let’s say I buy the exact same novel in paperback and for Kindle. If I read the paperback and like it, I can give you the paperback to also read and it’s totally legal. I don’t own the copyright on the creative work, but I DO own the physical copy of the book, and I’m totally free to give it to you, sell it at auction, cut it up and make an art project out of it, burn it, anything I want with my physical property. But if I like the book and then give you my Kindle digital copy… I’ve just violated copyright law.

      So a big problem is that our laws have FAILED to keep up with our media. The same acts that were all legal with physical media have become illegal with digital media. The paper book could move around and do all kinds of things without ever triggering copyright law. But with digital objects EVERYTHING you do triggers copyright law.

      By failing to keep up we’ve turned our kids into law breakers. We’ve essentially criminalized being a young person. When you live in a world where, realistically, an enormous percentage of people break the law… does this lead to less respect for law in general?

      kk… anyway… you get my drift…

      So a CC-ND-NC license says that you can never change my stuff and you can never sell it… but if I put that license on my song, it’s always legal for you to share it with any friend you want to hear it.

      I suppose you have an interesting point… that making a derivative work from you photo… or even from Divi’s poem is one thing… and sending a song MP3 or posting it on your website is cool… but it would be kind of weird to run around making total copies of blogs and reposting them…

      If someone, like, oh, I don’t know… SaveMe Oh, for example, just started taking every word I wrote and reposting it… that’d be weird… some website did take my Thomas Kinkade obit and reproduce every word and image on their site. It was legal since my obit was CC-A, but it was still weird to see.

      I see your point, it does feel a little different… I guess I wouldn’t worry about it for now… you started by mentioning plagiarism, which of course CC-A is not, since a legal use of that license would clearly cite the source of the work…

      Maybe a better way to think of it is that we live in a world that is at least approaching total access to everything. Obviously that’s not entirely true, but you get my drift. There’s no shortage of needles, but the haystacks are getting crazy. So we’re all Rebloggers / Remixers / Curators / Aggregators / News Wire Services…

      So if the Huffington Post has the content I care about… who cares if Arianna writes everything herself… or if she’s just chained a few college students to desks and they’re busy pulling in stuff from authors across the globe…

      WordPress and Tumblr reblogs are a lot like this. A lot of Tumblr reblog-heavy blogs can look alike… like liking the same bands at the same dance club with your friends… and that IS community building and cool…

      But imagine this… could you do a Tumblr that was 100% reblog… you never posted an original word or image… BUT… was also 100% YOU… that your judicial reblogging… your careful curating… meant that when I looked at your Tumblr… regardless of who the hell posted that stuff when or where… aggregated as you did it… I’m getting this incredible, singular portrait of YOU…

      Or that you’re THE curator of Topic X.

      What is a museum curator after all?

      You go to Harvard for TEN YEARS and get a PhD in Art History and eventually become a Curator at The Museum of Modern Art in NY. You’ve got one of the most prestigious gigs on the planet. You’re probably ridiculously smart… but you don’t make paintings or videos or hacktivist websites… your a (way) professional “Reblogger” (or curator or aggregator)

      SO… I guess till I get burned… I’ll say… let the content flow… and stupid reblogging will be stupid reblogging… and visionary reblogging will be as visionary as visionary anything else…

      • Sunday, 03 June 2012 at 04:49 UTC #

        Wow, thanks for writing such a long and detailed response!

        You bring up Tumblr which is has built in reblogging, and I have actually visited certain Tumblr feeds where I got a clear sense of who someone was, what state of mind they were in etc. I was pretty impressed with how clearly this could be conveyed, and surely you can do that with only reblogs.

        I recently saw a post on my Tumblr feed where the message said “please don’t reblog”. The irony was that the “version” I saw, was actually a reblog.
        Tumblr obviously makes appropriate attribution easy for entire posts, it’s one button. WordPress less so, and WordPress seems more interested in being word based sprinkled with images, whereas I see A LOT more pictures on Tumblr often without any words at all. The copy part of the CC license as you say, makes a lot of sense around music and imagery, and I’m wondering if this is mirrored in how people use Tumblr. Whereas the way people use WordPress reflect that we’re not in the same place when it comes to text, it’s good courtesy to link instead of “copy-sharing”.

        I’m wondering if platforms are playing a bigger part than we think regardless of what licenses allow, they bend our practices around them in a certain direction. Bringing your art curator into the picture – offline is a whole messy platform of its own!

        • Sunday, 03 June 2012 at 06:11 UTC #

          I think platforms play TOO BIG a part. One part of the problem is that we’re a culture of cheap. No matter how much we spend on hardware, and no matter how expensive our cable or cell bills are, we want our software to be free or stolen.

          We hate cell phone companies because they charge us a fortune every month. We love Google because they make all this cool stuff and never send us any bills at all.

          The problem with privileging “free beer” over “free speech” is that you wind up with, well, to quote the old Twilight Zone, “To Serve Man”.

          You wind up with “Free” Facebook where we are the product not the customer, and our lives are strip mined, packaged, and sold to marketers. Personally, but I’m a minority, I’d rather actually pay for services I find valuable, and BE the customer!

          This doesn’t solve all of your Platform point… but it’s part of it… how many different sites have you uploaded a profile photo on? I bet I’ve done that at least 100 times. I wish interop sites like OpenID or Gravatar had more traction but the reality is, FacebookConnect is the best one-login source. So our indenturedness to FB grows by virtue of its success.

          Ultimately this comes back to the Personal Repository point.

          While you can make WordPress look like Tumblr… or make Tumblr look like WordPress… or… you could make a Wiki look like a Blog… or a Blog look like a Wiki…

          All these platforms are pretty flexible… they’re all pretty much HTML/CSS, and really can do anything. Still, as you suggest, WordPress or Tumblr or Wikispaces or Facebook… they all do have a feel that we’re encouraged to be like…

          I think this is worst with Facebook, which I think of as the ubiquitous waffle iron. Your batter may have more blueberries, my batter may have more butter, but we all pour the batter of our lives into the Facebook waffle iron… and pretty similar-looking waffles wind up popping out all over the place.

          In the personal repository of my dreams, you post all the you stuff you like, your way, and then you can “place” it where you like… or perhaps I’ll have permission to place some of your stuff… but everything comes back to the Centralized You Database.

          So far, we’re not heading that way… it’s just a bunch of little kingdoms where we pour some of our life batter in for a bit of online amusement on our part, as the founders try to get rich off monetizing our lives.

          While there are some fantastically cool platforms out there, if you think about it, this IS NOT Einstein discovering relativity. This IS NOT Feynman discovering Quantum Electrodynamics… this is pretty much late teen, early twenties “kids” thinking up “cool shit” and then trying to make it happen and turn a profit. They’re smart kids, but it’s not “rocket science,” it’s really just clever ideas manifest as platforms with enough cool-of-the-moment to try to force us, or sex-appeal us, to live our lives in a way that’s convenient for the platform.

          Ironyca Lee, the greatest platformizer in our lives, FB, is also the platform-freer (a little bit) thru FB Connect.

  3. Monday, 04 June 2012 at 04:34 UTC #

    “In the personal repository of my dreams, you post all the you stuff you like, your way, and then you can “place” it where you like… or perhaps I’ll have permission to place some of your stuff… but everything comes back to the Centralized You Database.”

    This does sound amazing. Then you could connect to other services, but they would never really “own” you.

    As it is right now, FB is just everywhere and I often hear that if people don’t like it, they can just leave. The thing is that the power relation is totally skewed in their favour. They have my whole goddamn network! The more I invest, the more I risk losing, I am, as you say, not the real customer.

    I had a friend who used to write down all her received text messages into a small book in order to keep them. Of course her texts were stored on her phone/sim card, but if you change provider, you lose all the sweet messages. You could plug the old sim back in, but it would be a lot of hassle.
    I remember thinking it was odd, then again, I understand her, I have lost a lot of messages as I’ve changed phone etc, but now that it seems everything is on FB, more and more emotional chains are being strapped around me and there’s no way I can back this up digitally nor analogously.

    I’m just wondering if there’s such a thing as “too big to fail” within social network systems, the same way with banks. If Facebook have conveniently enough of our networks, lives, pictures dating back decades, comments, the timeline, a personal narrative weaved closely with everyone else on your friends list, that you reach such a critical point that people won’t leave because of how much story and history they’d lose.

    And if this is the case, that people refuse to leave, will they then rise up to FB and demand more? Now that more is at stake, will they also be more critical about how FB then administers the whole thing? Or should we still “just” leave if we don’t like it.

    Or if a better alternative comes up, will people just shrug and move on to the next big sexy thing. No big deal, in a new kingdom, we’ll just start over.

    I don’t know.

    • Monday, 04 June 2012 at 08:51 UTC #

      haha, just yesterday Mashable ran a piece about teens leaving Facebook for Twitter, partly because of the nymwars, and partly because their parents track them on FB:

      I do think FB is too big to fail… but as that article suggests… these entities are in a very fluid, volatile space. During his time wandering thru the desert of fired-from-the-company-you-created, the late Steve Jobs created a new computer company… neither Wintel, nor MacOS, but NeXT Computer, running the NeXTstep OS. For that time period, NeXT offered incredible power, a great UI/UX, and given all that power, a modest price tag. In fact, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web on a NeXT. But great as NeXT was, Wintel / Mac had it sewn up by then (obviously with a few research / university geeks happy with their LInux or whatever)

      Can Facebook & Google+ be the Wintel & Mac of Social Nets? Or is that cloud space more volatile / fluid than the old Hardware+OS space? Or can Twitter or Tumblr or Pinterest or whatever always come along and steal the eyeballs of the wirednoscenti?

      BTW, WordPress (which in not perfect) is actually pretty close to the “personal repository of my dreams.” It’s very much where I post everything… and then throw various breadcrumbs out to Twitter / Pinterest / Facebook / Tumblr……. Contemporary Performance Network / / Behance / ArtReview… (although I do upload video to YT/Vimeo, and I like to “dump” large batches of pix to Flickr, and then put a smaller “refined” set on a WP Performance Document)

      I suppose it’s analogous to making a bunch of paintings in your studio… and then letting different art galleries show your work… those places are important because they do address various publics more powerfully than maybe your studio can… but an art gallery can’t really replace your studio…

      ON your point about better terms… hmm… like a year and a half ago or so… when the United States of America decided that Wikileaks must die…and that aide in Senator Liberman’s office made a phone call and MasterCard et al started the blockade that ultimately did kill Wikileaks (of course like the RIAA killing Napster not being the death of File Sharing, so the USA killing Wikileaks is not the death of leaking)

      [it still makes me laugh / angry that the Senator responsible for crushing speech has the word “Liberty” in his name]

      Anyway, back then, it wasn’t just MasterCard who maybe peeps already distrusted, but Amazon Web Services and others cut Wikileaks off at the same time… and there was some realization that these platforms that we were so heavily invested in (sometimes with money or more typically with time and personal data) would gladly betray what we believed in for a single phone call from an aide in some Senator’s office… and someone floated the idea of “Wikiterms”

      the idea that if we banded together we could get back to Facebook or Flickr or whoever and, in a large, sort of union-like voice, say, here are the Terms under which WE will be willing to patronize your platform…

      I was really excited about “Wikiterms”… but it never took off…

      But recently I’ve heard rumblings, not of that word, but of that sentiment… so perhaps users will be able to push back.

      Then again… most people don’t care.

      IDK if you know Christophe Bruno’s “Google Adwords Happening” – it’s a remarkable piece – he bought adwords and paid real money, but instead of clicking thru to some product he had peeps click thru to, like poems… anyway… Google kicked him off… they said he was not allowed to buy words for art, only to sell products…

      But the other amazing thing he did in this project was just to look up and publish the cost of different words, it turns out, for example, that “FREE” is one of the most expensive words in all of Google AdWords, but “FREEDOM” is one of the cheapest words… suggesting that we care a lot about FREE, and very little about FREEDOM.

      Of course we already knew this, because poor, foolish Richard Stallman thinks that Free Beer is nice, but Free Speech is essential to our very way of life… when anyone paying attention knows that almost nobody gives a crap about Free Speech, but we’ll pretty much kill for a Free Beer…

      Also from Christophe Bruno’s piece you find that SEX is a very expensive word… but LOVE is a very cheap word… etc

      Anyway, WordPress works pretty well for me, and all that other stuff is nice to “meet & greet”

      Platforms like Diaspora or Unthink do have better terms than Facebook… but it’s hard to imagine that they’ll ever be even close to the Large Public Square that Facebook is.

      • Dividni Shostakovich
        Tuesday, 05 June 2012 at 01:27 UTC #

        Is Facebook too big to fail? Maybe. But check out this post on New World Notes: When FB went down, maybe everyone shrugs and goofs off some other way?

        • Wednesday, 06 June 2012 at 01:37 UTC #

          The article asks if internet traffic would have a more meaningful impact if WoW and LotRO went offline.
          I don’t know exactly about internet traffic, but I do know that if a certain realm is offline for an extended period of time, or suddenly have to go under maintenance, people have flooded other servers with the intent to crash them as a protest. A bit odd in my opinion, but WoW players can be extremely demanding.
          WoW players have also been known to protest game design decisions in the past, despite being threatened with banning.

          Anyways, I think people have their “internet time”. If they can’t access their usual sites, I believe they are likely to seek similar stimulation (relaxation, entertainment etc), either by going to other known sites and services, or find new ones. I think the dent will be overall small.

          • Wednesday, 06 June 2012 at 01:50 UTC #

            Yes, I think it’s really the same IRL. A few peeps will hear about a “special” film coming out and make a special trip to see it. But I think for many it’s more like “Saturday Nite – Date Nite – Let’s go see something” and then you pick the most interesting thing from whatever the choices happen to be.

            I really don’t think this reveals any particular weakness in Facebook. Yes, Facebook, is replaceable, but so are God and The President. But The President can still bomb the crap out of your country… and God can still do… well… whatever it is that she does…

            That’s funny about pissy WoW users… I know I’ve been such a pissy SL user. In the case of SL, even though some decisions do seem poor, you can still pretty much do anything you can think of. I’ve learned that Chill Pills can be very helpful.

      • Wednesday, 06 June 2012 at 01:22 UTC #

        Christophe Bruno’s “Google Adwords Happening” sounds really cool and subversive. It’s interesting how we (or maybe just me) think of the market as only ruled by money. If it was so, then why would Google care as long as they got money. Art, apparently, is not allowed to play and fool with the market! His idea sounds hilarious though, I never click adwords, but knowing that art could be behind some of the stuff, could actually benefit adwords as a sales service for me, I wouldn’t ignore it as readily then.

    • Monday, 04 June 2012 at 10:05 UTC #

      ha – I said “almost nobody cares” – but of course stuff like Occupy or Arab Spring suggest that a few peeps do care.

      Check out this cool talk by Tricia Wang:

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