The first day of the OCL conference (see previous entry) went not too badly, so here’s some extremely random highlights.
In our conference packs we got copies of the Creative Commons copy me/remix me CD (but I really wanted the Wired one), CC buttons and stickers, and a v. nice QUT pen…Larry Lessig gave his trademark performance, with a masterfully synchronised use of one-word powerpoint slides in his retro typewriter font, and his over-the-top declamatory style – you always feel like you’re at some kind of copyleft tent revival meeting. As a cultural studies person, it is interesting to note that his focus in these speeches has now moved away from the liberal economic arguments he was making in The Future of Ideas and has become much more culturally focused – the keyword is “remix”, people. There was even a hint in there of a cultural democracy argument; i.e. that the rights and freedoms enjoyed by those who work expertly with words (fair use, the ability to comment, pull apart and reassemble the words of others) must be extended to those who work with images and sounds, because the second group is the larger, and will continue to grow, and because the first group is an elite. [Mind you, there’s no getting away from the fundamental concepts of copyright: the author and the work, which are still hugely problematic for many, many creative and cultural practices not based on the dominant Anglo-European tradition – Best Question of the Day award goes to Danny Butt for bringing this point up]
I also belatedly found out about some of CC’s ongoing tech projects – mixter is especially interesting, in that (like flickr), it is an example of the emerging articulation between online social networks (friendster, orkut) and creative content. But not only can you track the relationships and connections between people on the network (friends of friends), you can can track the evolution of those people’s original content (for the moment, they’re starting with music) as it is sampled, remixed, and redistributed. For one thing, this is designed to start building communities of practice around creative commons licensing and content sharing, and for another, it might work as a proof of concept for CC’s focus on remix culture.
And who ever thought I’d be sitting down to a roast-dinner-and-salad buffet on the Kookaburra Queen, like some callow tourist? Let alone sitting on the top deck drunkenly masterplanning the future of various university disciplines with Terry Cutler, Stuart Cunningham, and John Quiggin, for all the world as if I were some pipe-smoking, tweed-wearing academic mafioso in a creaky leather chair in some old boys club, instead of the feisty upstart I’d mucn prefer to think I am. But that’s what happens when you attend a conference dominated by lawyers, and the conference dinner sees you stuck on a boat with them – solidarity is to be found in the unlikeliest of places. Oh, and I finally met Seb Chan in the flesh and had a lovely chat.
Back today for some stuff on computer games…