Free books on Copyright [sources for open source]

Certain smarty pants (I’m looking at you James Boyle) are stepping up to write accessible, interesting, and essential works on the depressing state of copyright law/file sharing/free culture. Things are not good, and everyone should know not just the base headlines “Teenager sued by RIAA for $15,000“—but the facts. I now refer to Boyle:

It is not merely supposed to produce incentives for innovation by rewarding creators, though that is vital. Intellectual property is also supposed to create a feedback mechanism that dictates the contours of information and innovation production. It is not an overstatement to say that intellectual property rights are designed to shape our information marketplace. Copyright law is supposed to give us a self-regulating cultural policy in which the right to exclude others from one’s original expression fuels a vibrant public sphere indirectly driven by popular demand. At its best, it is supposed to allow a decentralized and iconoclastic cultural ferment in which independent artists, musicians, and writers can take their unique visions, histories, poems, or songs to the world—and make a living doing so if their work finds favor. [via Boyle, The Public Domain]

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The End of Solitude [must read]


Got an extraordinary kick in the pants from William Deresiewicz’s article in The Chronicle titled “The End of Solitude: As everyone seeks more and broader connectivity, the still, small voice speaks only in silence.” He writes of how text messaging, myspace, facebook, and twitter have eliminated idleness, personal time, and self-reflection. We have forgotten how to be alone:

But we no longer live in the modernist city, and our great fear is not submersion by the mass but isolation from the herd. Urbanization gave way to suburbanization, and with it the universal threat of loneliness. What technologies of transportation exacerbated — we could live farther and farther apart — technologies of communication redressed — we could bring ourselves closer and closer together. Or at least, so we have imagined. The first of these technologies, the first simulacrum of proximity, was the telephone. “Reach out and touch someone.” But through the 70s and 80s, our isolation grew. Suburbs, sprawling ever farther, became exurbs. Families grew smaller or splintered apart, mothers left the home to work. The electronic hearth became the television in every room. Even in childhood, certainly in adolescence, we were each trapped inside our own cocoon. Soaring crime rates, and even more sharply escalating rates of moral panic, pulled children off the streets. The idea that you could go outside and run around the neighborhood with your friends, once unquestionable, has now become unthinkable. The child who grew up between the world wars as part of an extended family within a tight-knit urban community became the grandparent of a kid who sat alone in front of a big television, in a big house, on a big lot. We were lost in space.

Link to article

It’s part anecdotal, part philsophical, and 100 percent dead on.


A scientific approach to Myspace’s Failure

Marketing and Public Performance [commercial flashmobs]

Photo via
Scene: Grand Central Terminal, NY, NY. Rush hour. Friday: Thirty people stare with mouths dumbly agape at an awkward team of Liza Minelli-lookalike dancers prancing up a stairway. Many record with their cellphones the robotic and sexy dancers who for some reason are both in Geishaface and carrying laptops like Vanna White would have were she so inclined. I’m unable to find a video of this, but perhaps it’s for the best. It would only bring back bad memories if you found it for me.

Why does this bug me?

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Synoptic – Visualizing complex meteorogical data


via Computerlove

Synoptic is based on the idea to generate an interactive information graphic out of the chronological sequence of meteorological data. With the assistance of an abstract realtime-visualization a world is created where the user is able to move freely and gets fascinated by the complex dependency of several measured data.

Daily archived meteorological data of Augsburg (Germany) is the base for the online application, which gives users the possibility to choose from given measured data in order to receive the visualization of a certain time segment. Meanwhile selected values are interpreted as a three dimensional graph, which generates a terrain the user is able to move through freely and discover the coherence and the changes of meteorological data over time.