Category Archives: Same as it ever Was

Digital Sharecropping: Lessig warns of user-generated content exploitation

In May, Lucasfilm announced plans to enable fans of the “Star Wars” series to “remix” “Star Wars” video clips with their own creative work. Using an innovative Internet platform called Eyespot, these (re)creators can select video clips or other content and then add images or upload new content, whether images, video or music. Eyespot is one of many new technologies inviting “users” to do more than use the creativity they are consuming. Likewise, Lucasfilm is one of many companies recognizing that the more “users” use their creativity, the thicker the bonds are between consumers and the work consumed.


A dark force, however, has influenced Lucasfilm’s adoption of Eyespot’s technology. A careful reading of Lucasfilm’s terms of use show that in exchange for the right to remix Lucasfilm’s creativity, the remixer has to give up all rights to what he produces. In particular, the remixer grants to Lucasfilm the “exclusive right” to the remix — including any commercial rights — for free.


Hybrids are an important future of Internet growth. Businesses will have to think carefully about which terms will excite the masses to work for them for free. Competition will help define these terms. But if one more lawyer protected from the market may be permitted a prediction, I suggest sharecropping will not survive long as a successful strategy for the remixer.

Commentary from Lawrence Lessig for the Washington Post


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Filed under A Culture of Participation, A democratic medium?, Aggregate, Digital Commons, Electronic Storytelling, Fair Use, Same as it ever Was, Tools, User generated content, When New Meets Old

Crowdsourcing: Business v Users

I understand crowdsourcing as kind of an industrial age, corporatist framing of a cultural phenomenon. There’s human energy being expended here. A company can look at that as either a threat — to their copyrights and intellectual property or as some unwanted form of competition — or, if they see it positively, then they see it as almost this new affinity group population to be exploited as a resource. And I guess what I’m undecided on and debating internally is whether this is fine. In other words, am I naïve to think this isn’t the death knell for a community-oriented, collaborative, open source ethos? Has corporate America finally figured out the way to arrest this shift in the balance of power? Or do we let them believe they are doing this when actually it is human participation and collaboration going on, the kind of thing I would promote.

More from filmmaker Douglas Rushkoff from WIRED’s What Does Crowdsourcing Really Mean?

Subvert and Profit fills the niche market for ‘darker’ crowdsourced actions. Beginning by operating a black market for votes on social bookmarking services, S&P will bootstrap itself towards operating a full-fledged crowdsourcing marketplace for clandestine actions on the Internet. Striving to maintain our allure and underground appeal, we seek to represent the fundamentally subversive nature of the Internet….Our system has successfully placed a good deal of content on the front page of Digg. At this point, 2 out of 3 advertisements are successful, and we’re getting better. Ultimately our attempts are at the mercy of the Digg community. The average client buys 70 Diggs, though some clients prefer to gamble by purchasing 10-20, hoping that regular Digg users will carry them the rest of the way. We haven’t collected enough data from satisfied advertisers, though I’ve heard a story on Digg gets roughly 10,000 visitors. Once a blog I run under another name got over 30,000. All of this translates to organic marketing that is an order of magnitude cheaper than most other forms of Internet advertising.

More from “Ragnar Danneskjold” of Subvert & Profit from WIRED’s Exploring the Dark Side of Crowdsourcing

There are two ways that crowds are wise.

One way is that the crowds seem to average out certain kinds of nuttiness — which is sometimes a good thing and sometimes not, so I don’t want to just say that is a wonderful thing. I remember one of the examples in James Surowiecki’s book, The Wisdom of Crowds, where a State Fair type gambit was guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar to win a prize, or something like that. The averages were much closer to the answer than the individual guesses. I think there are times when there is wisdom in response averaging, and that is one way crowds can be wise or smart.

The other way is in diversity. It turns out that for a system like Innocentive we are playing off the diversity angle much more. I go back to the Archimedes example. If you just take the story at face value, and I realize that is impossible to do — but if you could reproduce the sitting in the bathtub part, how could I ever build that into my R&D function? But if I go out to the large numbers of individuals in the crowd, somebody is going to sit in their bathtub at the right point in time.

Read more from Dr. Alpheus Bingham, co-founder of research & development firm Innocentive in WIRED’s Using Crowd Power for R&D

Get more Crowdsourcing and Digg content from previous WNM mentions.

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Filed under A Culture of Participation, Business 2.0, Digital Commons, Media Evolution, Same as it ever Was, Social Media

1/3rd of kids online get cyberbullied

The most common form of bullying reported by teens online involves another person publicizing a private e-mail, instant message or text message, according to a study released Wednesday from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Fifteen percent of teens surveyed said that they had experienced the embarrassment of having a private communication posted publicly online or forwarded to a third party. Other types of harassment include someone spreading a rumor or posting an embarrassing photo on the Web, as well as someone sending a threatening or aggressive e-mail, IM or text message, the report found.

Read this item from C|Net and visit the Pew Internet & American Life Project to see the report Cyberbullying and Online Teens. On topic: What constitutes cyberbullying? A case study from the trenches from Ars and MySpace, Cyberbullies, And The Law from Rogerd’s Notebook.

Previously from WNM: Are Cyberbullies criminals? and Stealing your Cybermilk Money

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Filed under Anonymity, Connection/Isolation, Same as it ever Was, Social Media, Technology, our Mirror, Virtual Communities

Will torrent networks be required to narc on their users?

Two weeks ago, a judge ruled that BitTorrent search engine Torrentspy was required to enable server logs and turn the information over to the MPAA as part of the discovery process (the MPAA is suing Torrentspy for contributing to copyright infringement). That ruling was based on the theory that the information in question is already stored in RAM and therefore already exists; Torrentspy would not actually need to log any new data, just record what was already passing through its servers. The legal implications of this argument are staggering, and two technology groups have just pointed them out to the court in a new amicus brief.

Read this item from Ars Technica with commentary from C|Net and Alternet.

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Filed under A democratic medium?, Aggregate, Digital Commons, Fair Use, Networks, P2P (Peer to Peer), Privacy, Regulation, Same as it ever Was, Technology, our Mirror, The Politics of New Media

China & New Media: guanxi, QQ, cyberwar preparations and the “Great Firewall”

Is the Internet reshaping Chinese culture?

Excited and emboldened by the wealth of information they find on the Internet, Chinese teens are breaking centuries of tradition to challenge their teachers and express their own opinions in class. Wearing jerseys emblazoned with the names of European soccer stars, downloading weekly episodes of “Prison Break,” listening to 50 Cent, and reading Japanese comic books, China’s current high school generation is plugging itself directly into international culture. And it’s giving the kids ideas. Ideas that could one day transform the way this country is governed. “The Internet has given Chinese children wings,” says Sun Yun Xiao, vice president of the China Youth and Children Research Center.

Read Web opens world for young Chinese, but erodes respect from the Christian Science Monitor

Guanxi, China’s cultural heritage lends itself to ‘social media’

In China, the concept of guanxi ranks right up there with air, water, food, love, and tea as an essential of life. Air and water are becoming compromised in China, but not guanxi. In its simplest translation, guanxi means connections or relationships. The concept is really far more complex than that, easily the stuff of dissertations. I found one blogger’s struggle to define the social capital of guanxi appealing. He said the important qualities are whom you know; whom the people you want to know know; whom the people you already know know. Or something like that.

Read Deborah Fallows’ take on guanxi from the Pew Internet & American Life Project

Chinese new media consumption centers on fun

No other Internet company in the world — not even Google — has achieved the kind of dominance in its home market that Tencent commands in China, where its all-in-one packaging of entertainment offerings and a mobile instant-messaging service, “QQ,” has reached more than 100 million users, or nearly 80 percent of the market….While America’s Internet users send e-mail messages and surf for information on their personal computers, young people in China are playing online games, downloading video and music into their cellphones and MP3 players and entering imaginary worlds where they can swap virtual goods and assume online personas.

Read Internet Boom in China Is Built on Virtual Fun (free login needed) from the New York Times

The “Great Firewall” of China

Flickr is the latest casualty of China’s ongoing battle to control the internet. Wikipedia and a raft of other popular websites, discussion boards and blogs have already fallen victim to the country’s censors. China employs a complex system of filters and an army of tens of thousands of human monitors to survey the country’s 140 million internet users’ surfing habits and remove content deemed too sensitive….Its stability-obsessed government says the surveillance machinery, commonly known as the “Great Firewall,” is necessary to let internet users enjoy a “healthy” online environment and build a “harmonious” society.

Read this article from New Scientist

China wants to lead the cyber-arms race

The Defense Department said in its annual report on China’s military power last month that China regarded computer network operations — attacks, defense and exploitation — as critical to achieving “electromagnetic dominance” early in a conflict.

Read this item from the Washington Post

More? Ok.

  • China residents logging on in greater numbers from Ars
  • China: Two more years to Internet No. 1? from C|Net
  • Web 2.0 madness grips China from C|Net
  • US says China isn’t doing enough about piracy, files complaint with WTO from Ars
  • China seeks to ‘limit game hours’ from the BBC
  • China: Better at censoring blogs than malware from Ars

  • Track all things China + New Media from the What’s New Media blog?

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    Filed under A Culture of Participation, A democratic medium?, Censorship, Same as it ever Was, Social Media, The Politics of New Media, Virtual Communities, web 2.0, When New Meets Old

    Political expression inside Second Life: protests, digital graffiti and griefing

    “There’s a rationale for it to the extent that in this day and age, the powers that be have migrated into the Digital Age,” Galloway said. “For concerned citizens who want to agitate and express themselves politically, it makes sense that they will also migrate into the digital realm.”

    Alexander Galloway
    as quoted in In ‘Second Life,’ the ring of revolution? from C|Net. Also from C|Net, a visual montage of political expression inside Second Life. Previously from WNM: Private: Griefing attack on Second Life celebrity brings up copyright questions and Avatars against the War

    Please contribute your knowledge of ‘Griefing‘ to the Whats New Media Wiki.

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    Filed under A Culture of Participation, A democratic medium?, Same as it ever Was, Technology, our Mirror, The Politics of New Media, Virtual Communities

    Net taxes not a done deal

    Death and taxes are certain, a wise man once said. But in cyberspace, taxes are no sure thing, and federal lawmakers are considering several bills that would continue a nearly decade-long moratorium that blocks the 50 states from imposing their own taxes on internet access.

    Read this item from WIRED. Previously from WNM: Death and (’Net) Taxes

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    Filed under Same as it ever Was, The Politics of New Media