What does our lack of Open Source say about us?

If we take studied pop culture there seem to be two options, our future lies in either a post apocalyptic wasteland or a bright and shiny Utopian paradise where race, creed and gender have no bearing on a persons value within this new homogeneous society of like minded human beings. This new society would have different goals than our current society. Instead of the top 1% making laws to ensure their place at the top of the hierarchy, our society is based on the betterment of our entire planet or solar system. I am not suggesting that we can predict our future using movies, although Matt Groening has an impressive track record

I am interested in the underlying message of these predictions. Whether we live in a post apocalyptic wasteland or a Utopian paradise is unknown but the underlying message is the same regardless. What we are doing NOW as a global society is not working and is not sustainable.

The videos this week were really interesting, I agree with the idea that everything is remix. I want to discuss a few of these videos in particular. Everything is a remix and R.I.P a Remix Manifesto talk about how we like the familiar, and how a lot of the stories/music we know today are alterations of past creations. The final video was Lessig’s talk explaining the battle Aaron Swartz was waging to break down copyright laws that enable corporations to patent ideas and scientific research. The contents of these things could benefit our society but are being hidden for the financial benefit of few.

People love the familiar, Gina Vivinetto states that T.V shows and music from your childhood can produce the same feelings as talking with an old friend. There’s a reason people hang pictures on the wall, we like to remember the past. Radio and T.V stations are a mix of old and new. Fashion and architecture cycle past trends, even cars go through phases of looking nostalgic. We are surrounded by reminders of the past, and the new is often a reiteration of something that already was. A careful mixture of old and new, often playing on popular trends and trying to make pop culture a fashion accessory.

People tend to idolize different points in time, put them on a pedestal.  The time frame of the “golden years” changes depending on what is being idolized. For example: the 1960-s and 70’s are often talked about as the most exciting time to be alive from a music, car, cultural revolution standpoint… Cowboys think the late 1800’s was the time to be alive… But what I find fascinating is how everyone believes that they are all somehow the last generation of people who will appreciate that particular decade. Cowboys today talk about how things will never be the same and the next generation is different… “they are the last of their kind”. While 60’s enthusiasts might say something like “youth today don’t appreciate good music/art or pop culture”. Then it is usually followed by an explanation of how they will be the last generation to hear/see and appreciate it. However, cowboys have been saying they will be the last of their breed for a 100 hundred years…. most of those people that love the 60’s culture weren’t alive during the decade but somehow found and appreciated, and so will the next generation.

The idea of a remix isn’t new, combining something old and familiar with something new and exciting is a great way for people to both feel the comfort of something old and to be excited about something new.

R.I.P a Remix Manifesto did a great job of explaining this relationship while pointing out how copyright law can affect creativity. Growing up in the era of Napster I was familiar with the stance on piracy and illegal downloads. I thought they raised a very good point when they said that “Napster was the most comprehensive music collection ever created, and it was free”. I never thought of Napster that way before, I always looked at it as a group of people exploiting a loophole. Everyone in my hometown with a fast enough internet connection was part of the fileshare thing in the late 1990’s. To think that there were some people fined hundreds of thousands of dollars is outrageous.

  I had so many questions while watching this documentary, I couldn’t believe the obvious corruption at a federal level to pass legislation that would enable people to copyright ideas they themselves took from someone else. Changing the legislation surrounding copyright law to benefit only a small group of people is shameful and I can’t believe that people stood for it. This video was a great compliment to the talk on “Aaron’s Law”. If you didn’t see the speech, it is incredible. Aaron Swartz made many points that are impossible to argue. Such as how can you control scientific and medical knowledge and completely disregard the common good for the profit of a few. When governments start making laws that are not in the best interests of its citizens, people should be asking why. Open source medical/scientific research makes sense to me, what is happening in Brazil is a wonderful display of common sense.

Social justice warriors have always carried the burden so others would benefit later. Arron Swartz was a rare person who understood the problem and was in a position that could enact change. His goal to “fix oblivious” is one that I have often thought would be very difficult. How do you convince people to work to fix a problem if they don’t know a problem exists? This documentary was informative and thought provoking. Creative Commons and other information sharing are topics that should be more talked about to raise awareness and understanding.

I am sure there are many examples of places that people create and share open source documents that I don’t know about. I was excited when I was able to link a new email to my tool bar, needless to say the computer hacker world is a bit far removed for me. The website I shared during class has a lot of the ideas that these videos talked about. It is a space that will allow people to collaborate and openly share creative material. It is a platform that is connecting people that would have otherwise never met. These types of platforms are really exciting to me. I agree with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the hitrecord video when he said that “creative people need to work with other creative people”. Although this is a great platform, I think the power of the internet could be used for so much more. The idea of open source information is awesome and is often portrayed in movies as a future reality. I find this particularly funny considering all these videos agree that the entertainment industry is spearheading the campaign to crush the idea of open source sharing and re-mix collaboration.  

Published by bradraes7578

Vice Principal at Prince Arthur in Moose Jaw, Sk.

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