Old Media Dips Into New Media Waters

November 10, 2008

In Ars Technica today: film studio MGM has partnered with video-sharing site YouTube to deliver full-length movies online. In the NYTimes: book publishers have signed a deal with e-giant Google (which also owns YouTube) to sell electronic versions of out-of-print, copyrighted works.

Both are obviously landmark deals that test possible unions between old and new media — parties that have been wary of each other, but whose business futures are hugely co-dependent.

Both also highlight a persistent (historically-pressing) need to redefine/rethink the role of the media creator (authors, musicians, visual artists, etc.). And her rights to her own produced, reproduced, and distributed works.

The 2007-8 Writers’ Strike is just one vivid illustration that the increasingly digital and transnational mediascape has far outgrown already-deficient intellectual property protections.

As more and more of old media creeps into the internet, the challenge will be to keep new media from morphing into the closed institutions and lopsided relationships it sought to tear down. The more things change the more they stay the same?

Let’s hope greater reach translates into greater financial support for media creators, not just middlemen. Information wants to be free! Yes, indeed. But artists need to be protected and compensated as well.

Note: Larry Lessig (Stanford University/Creative Commons) talked about copyrights and creative freedoms at this enlightening TedTalk back in March 2007.

The Future of Technology: “Charlie Rose by Samuel Beckett”

April 28, 2008

Saw this on newteevee and it blew my mind (something a video project rarely does). Here’s “Charlie Rose by Samuel Beckett”: a brilliant, rather-eerie, must-see 3min-37sec video by artist/filmmaker Andrew Filippone Jr. (Hitting replay just compounds the experience of a Beckettian loop. A taste of the future of technology.)

Giving It Away

April 13, 2008

Two recent articles on charitable giving in the U.S.: Saturday’s e-NYTimes published “Charities Seek Donors to Replace Wall Street”, which made me go back to a Slate article a couple months ago, “The Facebook Philanthropos”. The NYT article iterates philanthropy’s golden rule: 90% of money raised comes from 10% of (wealthiest) donors. The Slate article notes upticks in viral philanthropy or individual giving. While still accounting for only 1-5% of total contributions, viral philanthropy represents greater involvement from a wider range of individuals. Just looking at Obama’s campaign alone, we know that viral anything (at least in America) can overturn many a golden rule.

Two elephants (at least) in the room: first, the growing power of corporations and private wealth in supporting/defining what we see, hear, think, create in public space–which both articles address indirectly. And second, the shrinking role of government or public wealth (which come from taxes) in supporting/defining a (multi)cultural commons–which both articles do not address.

These are, of course, complicated and related issues. To get straight to my point, I’m generally not in favor of higher taxes. But we are swimming in dangerous waters when we as a nation are increasingly willing to put our common wealth (culture, science, education, sports, etc.) up for sale to private bidders. We are not just consumers and markets. We are citizens and constituencies. I for one do not want to look at a future sculpted by Facebook/Microsoft, Google, Sony, Visa, BMW, Boeing, Altria, Target, etc.