Collective Intelligence V Copyright

In our Henry Jenkins reading from this week, a particular paragraph stood out to me:

“The French cyberspace theorist Pierre Levy uses the term ‘collective intelligence’ to describe the large-scale information gathering and processing activities that have emerged in web communities. On the internet, he argues, people harness their individual expertise towards shared goals and objectives: ‘No one knows everything, everyone knows something, all knowledge resides in humanity’ (1997).”

It’s easy to see how the internet functions this way (just take a look at wikipedia’s omniscient omnipresence in the new world), essentially crowdsourcing knowledge. But how does this new culture, so tied up with information sharing, interact with the intellectual property economy left over from legacy media which we were learning about last week? Is it possible for the two things to co-exist or is this a Harry VS Voldemort situation where neither can truly thrive while the other is still around? Jenkins continues to point out that “our allegiances to nation states are being redefined” — I personally think (or maybe even hope?) that as time and tech march on our allegiances to the laws of these old nations are being redefined right along with it.

Annoyed Picard

BCM112: Copyright Culture

I had so much that I wanted to talk about regarding this week’s subject! I have stuff that got cut due to time for this. That’s how much extra I talked than I needed to. In the end, this is what stayed; a brief discussion of Shakespeare, Hollywood, Happy Birthday, and Other.

Note that while evidence has been found to suggest that Warner/Chappell have been incorrectly claiming on copyright for ‘Happy Birthday’ all these years, they are yet to have their ownership claim challenged and so still hold the copyright.

I guess what I’m really left wondering is… If we’re so concerned with who an idea belongs to and making sure they get compensated for that, then why the hell did we extend it so far? Why do we allow others to inherit or purchase the rights to those ideas when we clearly know they haven’t earnt whatever revenue we’ve decided to throw that idea havers way? And why are we allowed to copyright on such a micro level as each individual recording of someone else’s idea? That’s weird, right?

Whatever, society.

Cybercultural Tragedies

My original broad concept for my research project was to look into the ways in which Cyberculture might be seen to reflect aspects of oral cultures. I would examine specific case studies from Cyberspace, such as fanfiction, let’s plays, and forum threads in order to discuss where this digital space interaction does or does not take the shape of some new iteration of orality. Building from this idea that that there’s a legacy of the past in the present, I’d like to focus on the performance of tragedies online and the ways in which they recall Aristotle’s ancient oral/performed tragedian forms and structures.

According to Aristotle’s Poetics: “Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is admirable, complete and possesses magnitude […] effecting through pity and fear the purification of such emotions”, this ‘purification’ referring to a cathartic release of emotion through empathy. His definition requires the technical elements of wholeness, in that the tragedy is complete; reversal of fortune (preferably dramatic) from good to bad or vice versa; unity, as the tragedy should follow through on one main event or action; and universality. This final necessary element may be of particular interest to my research, and Aristotle explains it, saying: “the function of the poet is not to say what has happened, but to say what would happen […] So one need not try at all costs to keep to the traditional stories which are the subjects of tragedy; in fact it would be absurd to do so […] the poet must be a maker of plots rather than of verses”.

With these elements in mind I would enjoy making possible case studies of the ‘Angst’ genre of fanfiction and the Nuzlocke phenomenon in Pokemon gaming and story sharing as examples of modern Cybercultural reimaginings of Aristotelian oral tragedy.

Aristotle, Poetics. “trans. Malcolm Heath.” London: Penguin 8.17 (1996): 3-1.