On the transformation of everyday culture in an era of liquid modernity

Posts Tagged ‘Critique’

The one-sided assumptions in the Pirate Bay ruling

In BitTorrent, copyright, cultural industries, economy, file-sharing, law, media ecology, p2p, politics, Sweden on November 30, 2010 at 8:03 pm

This is a translation of an article that I wrote in Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet on Nov 27th, following the verdict from the Swedish Court of Appeal in the famous Pirate Bay copyright infringement case.

According to the current ruling in the Pirate Bay trial, the Court of Appeal makes a very interesting comparison between The Pirate Bay and services like Google and YouTube, which also distribute copyrighted material:

“If the nature of a search service is such that it primarily is a valuable tool in lawful activities, and of general benefit to society, if this legitimate use predominates, but the distribution or transmission of illegal material in spite of precautions cannot be ruled out, the operation of such a service should be considered as legitimate.” [emphasis added]

In fact, the ruling depends on whether one sees file-sharing as a fundamentally good thing for society, or as a public hazard. Once again, the saga of The Pirate Bay shows that the law is eminently political.

Read the rest of this entry »

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What MySpace should do!

In APIs, marketing, media ecology, music on April 22, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Basically, as MySpace are slowly moving towards more open APIs, they should be more ambitious and really start making use of the potentials for aggregation in their massive user database. Especially when it comes to music…
These open APIs make possible the relatively new concept (it only opened in March this year) of MySpace widgets which let users use and create applications that plug into the infrastructure of MySpace – something which Facebook has been letting users do for ages, although not in such an open way, since MySpace after all does this under the wing of the more generally applicable and more cross-platform-friendly OpenSocial, developed by Google.
But as it occurs, these types of tapping into the vast banks of ever-shifting user data that in fact constitute these social networks are very limited. At the moment, MySpace Apps are for example unable to be added to what they call “special profiles”, such as bands/artists. Read the rest of this entry »

The fantasy of cultural control, and the crisis of distribution

In media ecology on April 17, 2008 at 5:31 pm

The following blog post is an excerpt from Deptford.TV diaries II — Pirate Strategies, where several contributors problematise the current possibilities for free and alternative media distribution, specifically in relation to urban, up-and-coming areas like Deptford, south-east London.

What strikes me, when reading Armin Medosch’s fascinating account of the increasingly hostile downside to all the “free” culture hype of lately, is how different logics of control become layered upon one another and serve to reinforce each other in rather nebulous ways. New technologies allow for freer exchange, but this becomes seized upon also by the cultural industries which then come to expect cheaper terms of trade for everyone involved, especially struggling artists. All this while we’re all applauding, because “free” is always good, isn’t it? Read the rest of this entry »

MySpace censors its own users

In censorship, social networking sites on March 3, 2008 at 10:26 am

Rupert Murdoch-owned social networking site MySpace censors the internal messaging service of its own users. When sending messages through the network’s own mail service, certain words are automatically deleted.

This is but one example of how the arbitrary impositions of corporate actors in fact comes with grave political potentials, only held back by lines ultimately drawn by governmental laws and regulations — lines that are often arbitrary or contested in themselves. This “code of conduct” is increasingly common today, among corporate actors like ISPs, search engines and network providers. Inspired by the term just-in-time, used in logistics, I call this particular mode of operation just-about-legal. My argument is that this business method in fact lies at the heart of many of today’s most profitable corporate giants. Read the rest of this entry »

Facebook, ‘til death do us apart

In everyday life, media ecology, social networking sites on February 5, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Facebook makes visible the futility of life, but also the marvel that appears in-between the banalities.

Not only do social networks like MySpace and especially Facebook make the primary channels for keeping informed about when people close to you break up, or have other important changes in their lives (losing their jobs, being pregnant etc). Sometimes you’re apprehending things not through what is actually said, but through what is left out. The “relationship status” indicator is all of a sudden taken down. The ever-present “wall” is temporarily suspended. Or nothing happens; the page remains immutable, inert, suspended in that void which life crises often generate.
In effect, here the social network does not mean anything; it doesn’t taint or colour reality, neither positively nor negatively; it just is, like life itself. Does it feel cheap to break up via text message? Does it feel equally cheap to let one’s mates know only through automatized Facebook feeds? Social facts remain; their charge is not in how they are mediated – whether they are gripping or banal lies in their own nature, not with the messenger. Read the rest of this entry »

Faking it with MySpace

In everyday life, social networking sites on October 30, 2007 at 12:58 pm

Social networking, the place where fakery is applauded — or at least sanctioned. Not only is the myth of bands discovered entirely through MySpace perpetuated, the people behind the social networking sites trn out to be as manipulative them too. But hey, aren’t we all expected to use some “white lies” to get what we want?

The old, official story is usually that “so and so bands were discovered through MySpace and yeah it totally rocks because it’s all in the hands of the users”.
However, it soon comes to show that this is a somewhat simplified picture. Arctic Monkeys didn’t have a MySpace page until shortly before their debut single release; Lily Allen was already signed by an EMI subsidiary before she joined MySpace; and Sandi Thom had a lucrative publishing deal in place by the time she began webcasting. Read the rest of this entry »

On Facebook as “the bureaucratization of friendship”

In everyday life, social networking sites on October 3, 2007 at 10:52 am

This is very interesting in my opinion – and it begs the question if social networking doesn’t thrive on a marketization of social relations which in turn relies on 1) the ranking, valorization and management of different “friendships” and 2) the tendency to “brand” one’s own identity, to document it for posterity and to maximize its value in the face of one’s own (semi)public network of friends. Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Commons consolidates old-school copyright? That argument is secondary

In copyright, Creative Commons, media ecology, politics on September 29, 2006 at 5:50 pm

There is a type of criticism against Creative Commons which has grown quite prominent within the copyleft recently. The main tenet in this line of argumentation seems to be that Creative Commons through its reliance on the existing copyright regime actually reinforces copyright.
For example, Crosbie Fitch recently argued for this stance on the fc-uk-discuss mailing list. He described Creative Commons (CC) as flawed, because it helps consolidating old-school copyright:

CC is flawed in that it consolidates the perception that the artist should be able to control the use of their art.
[…]
CC consolidates copyright.
It is as if the IP maximalists said to a great lawyer “How can we get the masses to respect our copyrights?”, and he replied “Simple: encourage the masses to embrace copyright themselves, in everything they do. If everyone believes in it, it becomes more powerful. They will then perceive their use of manacles upon their culture as enfranchising, as their own emancipation.” Read the rest of this entry »