Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Larry Lessig

I just watched the TED talks video Dr. Couros linked to our course wiki. Incredible. He tells three short stories, one involving the notion of ownership of airspace, one involving "talking machines" and their perils with respect to the evolution of the human voice box, and one pertaining to broadcast rights of music and the development of BMI. While these stories are seemingly not connected, there is, in fact, a common link.

The argument Lessig is attempting, successfully, to make is that the internet has the potential to revive what he calls the "read - write". That is, we, as potential creators, have the opportunity to connect and not only create, but recreate and build upon what already exists. In this way, we can make incredible progress in all areas including academics, art, literature, and so on.

Lessig phrases this in a very poignant way. He believes that, in the process of sharing and using the internet to its ability, we can produce and create for the love of the material and not for the money. He cites examples of various remixes, and some of them are hilarious, to illustrate the potential for growth upon what already exists using technology and the human imagination. Lessig is adamant that it should be viewed as permissible for people to take pieces of content already 'invented' and (re)create material and producing something new.

The most interesting part of the video is his assertion that we have a new literacy based on the digital world. At the outset of this class, I would have bristled and taken offence to this notion, but I am starting to understand and even to agree. Kids do not think, learn, or express themselves in the same way that I did just fifteen years ago. We, as an adult establishment, need to reconsider the way we view these new literacies and legitimize them so that we are not a barrier to the progress of young creative minds, but a facilitator.

This is a great idea and a truly altruistic concept, but I wonder if human nature will ever allow it to happen. One of the primary motivations for human behaviour is money and greed. While he laments the lack of common sense inherent in legal assumptions regarding copyright law, they are buttressed by a fundamental human quality, greed. I hope that the open content movement continues to build momentum, and I intend to be a part of that, but it often takes time to defeat the powerful force of human greed.

1 comment:

  1. Great reading of this Trevor, and it's a very important clip from Lessig. He has some great books as well, free online, if you are interested, after you are done your Master's that is. :-)