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Makers by Cory Doctorow
Imagine a new type of Disneyland ride where the ride patrons themselves determine the content: Engineers Perry and Lester create an intelligent, self-regulating system of robot builders who construct and reconstruct an amusement park ride based on user responses. Through the use of a feedback joystick tracking likes and dislikes, plus contributions of physical stuff, riders create a 3-D "story" - a collage of sentimental artefacts through which a narrative emerges describing a common thread of our social history. Disneyland Wikified? Naturally the powers that be are not having any of this: If you remove the notion of an identifiable author or authors (either individual or corporate) how do you assert and profit from a copyright?

"Makers" is a grand thought experiment, a David-and-Goliath battle between copyright-holding corporations and a new breed of creators who want to use all materials available to them as the building blocks of their creations. The difference between the current generation of mashup artists using print, audio or video and the heros in "Makers" is that in the novel's imagined future creative possibilities are amplified by the existence of a new type of computer printer which can construct 3-D objects.

One of the central themes of this novel - the idea that the creative process is maximized through the participation of numerous (and often random) inputs, is reminiscent of Rudy Rucker's The Hacker and The Ants. In Rucker's book, the protagonist engineers intelligent robots through a process of virtual natural selection. (Computer programmed simulated environments test the capabilities of robot design by running different sets of design parameters through thousands of alternative scenarios). Similarly, the The Cathedral and the Bazaar theory of software development supports "Open Source" as the best means of developing quality software. With so much evidence against the value of single-author design when compared to more collaborative efforts, you can't help but wonder that if the copyright czars of today get their way and finally squash "free use" (and even "fair use") with their heavy-handed draconian use of legal force, what possible futures will never come into existence? publisher's info
Makers by Cory Doctorow
A Tor Book
Published by Tom Doherty Associates LLC
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010

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PressPausePlay - What is the Meaning of This?

This new film from Swedish Producers House of Radon looks closely at the implications of the new wave of technological empowerment that has made everyone a potential film maker or music composer. The film's press kit explains the intent and objectives of this documentary film as follows:

"After working in the creative industry for a number of years we got a bit tired of the loud complaints regarding the disappearance of business models due to pirating and continuing profit losses. These subjects had been discussed to death at media panels and in newspapers around the world. We felt that an important part of the story had been lost - the unprecedented cultural impact. Sure, there are lots of industry problems caused by technological innovation but there are also enormous new opportunities for creation."

The film does a good job counterbalancing the negative effects to the copyright elites with a listing of the ways in which artists in all mediums now have at their disposal a wealth of production tools that would have cost thousands (or even millions) to gain access to previously. Through a series of interviews from new media cheerleaders like Seth Godin and Hot Chip, we get a picture of a utopian new world where everybody has access to the means of artistic expression (where everyone controls the means of production in today's cultural economy). There is however, a palpable dark undercurrent in the observations of author Andrew Keen, who suggests:

"In Hegelian terms we automatically assume that one world ends and is replaced by another. That is not how revolutions work... It is quite conceivable that we will see the end of a cultural economy."

But what is meant by "the end of a cultural economy"? In the most simple terms, it just means that the corporations and individuals who profit from the production and dissemination of intellectual property (whether it be books, films, music, chemical formulas, proprietary procedures and processes) may no longer be able to derive their primary income from these things. Will the Intellectual Property Elites of yesterday be the Luddites of tomorrow? According to Moby, that is what makes the current revolution in media technology BOTH FRIGHTENING AND EXCITING.

Get more information and instructions for viewing this film from here: