FREE [digital] CULTURE: an ecosystem for democracy

Remix culture relies on free culture; it relies on creative commons and an open source ideology. This aspect of freedom is of course, essential to remixing an collaboration because it lawfully dictates than an artist or individual can use open content at their leisure whether as imitation or explicitly in their own work. I believe this approach carries salience in culture at large because it does not infringe upon knowledge and information that could enlighten present and future populations. In academia as well as on the internet, information is the currency by which we rely on to grow and learn. Sure, without the existence of copyright, there would be no copyleft but I do believe that open source is hugely important to democracy. The four R’s make the advantages more obvious:

  1. Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage)
  2. Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video)
  3. Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language)
  4. Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other open content to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup)
  5. Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend)


I like the believe in the goodness of others and the expansive possibility of artistry. That a democratic society does not need “all rights reserved” because wealth can be derived by other means. Every moment those around us, even strangers who we shall never meet are “peering in” on a part of who-i-am online–in this way they are paying attention and so, value is still brought into a “free culture.” It seems naive to think that the internet should have restrictions imposed upon what is already “out there.” I am aware that an entity like Facebook owns more informations about ourselves that we would like to admit, so really we are already producing unpaid labor. *Think: Wages for Facebook

Indeed, the platform networks of social media has the economic interest for its users to consume, to share, produce, participate and collaborate whether in conversation or creation of content. In this sense, it might be in our best interest to restrict [governmental, public] access to personal information that we deem “private” but all else, all that is broadcasted on these otherwise public forums is in the commons.

In consideration of digital existences and digital-affordances, the concept of intellectual property & a conservative interpretation of copyright is weakened. Though we still have to pay for access to documents in the public domain or monetarily subscribe to academic databases, that may change simply because of the ecosystem on which the internet functions. Intellectual property is vulnerable  to hacking simply by way of online publication. Reproduction becomes a by-product, fraught with copying and mass, instant redistribution. I think of the tragic display and demise of Aaron Swartz in this way and his call for open access & de-privatization of information in fear of an end to democracy and dialogue. He was made out to be a felon, 11 times over. Only to see his own end at 26.



I am uncertain about how to measure the labor of “originality” in a time when it feels fragile and easily compromised by another’s desire to appropriate or remix. I suppose copyright is valuable in the sense of protecting the laborer, but I think the laborer must be sensitive to the environment that he/she is producing in– do not post your work online if you fear it will be misused or reused. I refuse to be discomforted by “some rights reserved” because I know there are times when I wish to take freely and be inspired to work with something that has already been produced.

“The goal of US copyright law is to promote the progress of knowledge and culture. Its best-known feature is protection of owners’ rights. But copying, quoting, recontextualizing, and reusing existing cultural material can be critically important to creating and spreading knowledge and culture” (14.)

A lot of music I listen to is sampled from, or even sampled/mixed/ taken by other artists. Tokimonsta is an LA based DJ who does and inspires a lot of this. It seems more common & acceptable to sample from and share music among artists so less social & economic risk is at bay when nearly everyone participates in this practice.

a piece of outsourcing for education through image & text

I was not concerned with using most of this this material as I found that it is under the creative commons share alike license. I believe it is also deemed “fair use” if expressed or used in a way that is educational as well.

on the work of jenny odell

While watching Jenny Odell introduce here how she simply goes and walks around to observe her surroundings, to internalize her new environment– I found myself recognizing how I have a similar method of observation. I resonate with this idea that sometimes, it makes more sense to just step out and have a look around with a general curiosity for things whether they be about design or people or location. My mind remembers more about a place or city when I can stand on a corner and register that “this is the corner I live on” versus looking at it’s digital counterpart on google maps.

“Place” carries meaning when I am in “it,” and usually only thereafter. By this method is how I “map out” and discover fully, any new place that I enter. I can read maps and understand them, but they give me no more than indication or generalization of a certain space. All frame of reference on a map is suddenly lost when I turn 180 degrees… so I prefer to be up close, to know what it means to “enter a new space and suddenly all of the buildings look different” because that gives me sense of place by feel and movement, by color and mood or language and style. I can recall the size of a building, the shape of that one tree, or type the patio furniture of a cafe much easier than I could give you an intersection or address.

Ex) Despite traveling through South America IRL, as I moved across its 3D images on google for our most recent project, I became frustrated because I knew the image I wanted to harvest, but I did so with great difficulty; not fulling knowing how to navigate from “up above” or north to south rather than “by and through” in car or on foot, by sight and sense.


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In another talk, Odell speaks to the experience of “using technology to augment elements of the human experience rather than flattening it or replacing it.”

I am inspired by her point here– how so much of technology can be easily criticized but she chooses, instead to let it empower her artistic drive. To provide the world with a more conscious reaction to these “media effects.” I believe I am in media studies for a similar reason. By understanding media & technology and how it functions to serve us (or not serve us) I am able to “re-enter” the world in a more informed way. I become more comfortable with technology because I know that it can be perceptible and detectible.

I immediately drew the comparison to my experience of wearing a hybrid prosthetic-orthotic piece of technology, my exosym. This device enables me a physical experience of the world that I might not otherwise have without it. It enables me a new identity. It enables me a new point of advocacy for people with disabilities. Technology is a perceptual prosthesis in every sense because it can provide us with the means to subject ourselves to new realities and new experiences. The same goes for my exosym. I am more abled-bodied as I wear it and when I put it on, I enter a new space and a new category of “disability” according to how others perceive me. I am “recovering” versus “congenital.” I am an “injured athlete” versus “one with CP.”

Had I “escaped” this new, bionic reality the moment it became too hard and difficult to process, I might never reached this comparison with Jenny Odell’s work and understanding over her own artistry.