Digital Sharecropping

George Lucas is joining the Web 2.0 bandwagon and allowing fans to create mashups of Star Wars. Wow, what a guy? Impressed? Happy? Don’t be!!!

â??Star Warsâ?? fans can connect with the Force in ways theyâ??ve only imagined beginning May 25, when launches a completely redesigned website that empowers fans to â??mash-upâ?? their homemade videos with hundreds of scenes from â??Star Warsâ?? movies; watch hundreds of fan-made â??Star Warsâ?? videos; and interact with â??Star Warsâ?? enthusiasts from around the world like never before.

With an innovative, interactive site that allows users to navigate to multiple â??Star Warsâ?? worlds, a new video focus, and groundbreaking â??Web 2.0â?? features â?? including a unique online multi-media mixing platform from Eyespot â?? the new will unveil its redesigned website on May 25 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the â??Star Warsâ?? Saga.

Among the most compelling features of the newly redesigned is the incorporation of an online video-editing tool provided by Eyespot. It allows users to add their own video shots to more than 250 scenes and music taken from all six â??Star Warsâ?? films and create their own â??Star Warsâ?? movies to share with others.

Unfortunately the material the creative fans will create will not belong to them but will remain in the hands of George Lucas. The fan-created videos will run along with commercials profits split between Lucasfilm and Eyespot.

The idea of users being drafted, fooled, enticed into doing the work for someone else has been called digital sharecropping by Lessig. This refers to the situation where the work is carried out by poor day laborers while the landowners sit and reap the rewards of another’s creativity.

Read more about this over at the Volokh Conspiracy

Open Source Cinema

Open Source Cinema is a collaborative documentary project to create a feature film about copyright in the digital age.

Several years ago, I began researching the intersection of culture and creativity – exploring how in the digital age, everything we know about copyright has been turned upside down. From mash-ups to filesharing, creation to distribution, everything is in flux.


This all came in to sharp relief when I attended the MGM vs Grokster oral argument in 2005. Outside, the music industry and file-sharing supporters alike protested in large numbers. One music industry veteran declared â??music is like a donut. Pay for the donut, you get to eat itâ??. Meanwhile, a 16 kid told me â??I donâ??t think you can own music – its just feelings. How can you own that?â?? So whoâ??s right? Is culture a product? Will the next generation ever settle for anything less than free? Thats what I want to explore in this documentary, which is tentatively titled Basement Tapes.



For more information about The Film – check out the WikiFilm.


For more information about the philosophy of the project, check out the Maninfesto

Resisting Science

Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg have written a very nice article entitled “Why do some people resist science?” in which they put forward the interesting discrepency between the status of the scientist and the trustworthiness of the scientist in society. Despite the fact that scientists are proud of their objectivity and method they still have not managed to convince everyone that they are telling the truth.

In a 2005 Pew Trust poll, for instance, 42% of respondents said that they believed that humans and other animals have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.

This means that almost half of the people asked rejected the basic theory of evolution.

But this rejection of science would be mistaken in the end. The community of scientists has a legitimate claim to trustworthiness that other social institutions, such as religions and political movements, lack. The structure of scientific inquiry involves procedures, such as experiments and open debate, that are strikingly successful at revealing truths about the world.

But these results also show something else. They show that no matter how much increased communication is available in society, on a certain level, individuals will not find the truth themselves. They will reject it in favor of  belief. Additionally the over-belief in democracy will lead to the situation where untrained people will “know” better than the trained scientists.

Robot Ethics

Some people seem not to be able to find anything to write about. Me on the other hand I am stuck with the problem of finding too many things fascinating. The topic of Robot Ethics is one which I would love to have time to engage in. I was reminded of this by the Humlab Blog

Peter Asaro will present a lecture on â??Robot Ethicsâ?? in the HUMlab.

This lecture will be an overview of his research at the HUMlab on Robot Ethics, particularly on the ethics of military robots. Peter is one of the new Postdoctoral Fellows at the HUMlab and the Department of Philosophy.

His film Love Machine will be shown in HUMlab at 15:30 on this Friday, June 1.
This is part of the â??Love, War & Robots Film Seriesâ??

Love Machine flyer

Love Machine (2001), directed by Peter Asaro, 110 min,

My fascination with robot ethics is the border between man and machine. When does a machine become complex enough to be granted rights on its own? Some may argue that no matter how sophisticated the software the machine will always be a machine. Fair point. But what happens when we begin to mix tissue in the machine. What happens when we begin to put more foreign objects into the human body. At what stage will the limits between man and machine become blurred enough for us to seriously discuss the limits of the man/machine dichotomy.

I have used some of these questions in my computer ethics courses but I never seem to have the time to explore this more deeply.

About time too…

Via the Resistance Studies blog:

The Alabama Legislature on Monday approved a bill that would pardon Rosa Parks, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists convicted of violating Jim Crow laws in the state. During the â??second Civil Warâ?? in the 1950s and 1960s against desegregation, thousands of African-Americans and white people were arrested while standing up for freedom.

The protesters were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, inciting riots, loitering and more, as they peacefully marched, staged sit-ins and protested to bring an end to the Southâ??s oppressive Jim Crow laws.

For exercising their rights as American citizens, they unjustly ended up with criminal records.

Recently, some Southern states, including Tennessee and Alabama, have moved to offer pardons to those convicted of acts of civil disobedience during the civil rights movement.

The House and Senate this week passed the Rosa Parks Act, named after the mother of the civil rights movement that would grant pardons to individuals who sought them.

The full text of the legislation is here:

About time too…

Stallman Audio

The audio file from Stallman’s lecture in Göteborg. The file is in ogg vorbis (rms-speech-gbg-sweden-2007.ogg)  its 78MB but is easy to download since there are quite a few of us seeding.

Click here to begin download via bit torrent.

Information about the free audio format ogg vorbis  and about the file sharing system bittorrent.


Have you seen Bibme? It’s a cool application for creating, handling and saving bibliographies.

BibMe is your one-stop source for all your bibliography needs!  Donâ??t remember all the information for the source you cited? No problem! BibMe allows you to search from a database of millions of entries to find your source and autofill in the information. Or, if you the source in front of you, you can enter your entries in manually. BibMe also offers resources to help you cite your work properly in the â??Citation Guideâ?? section.

In addition to this the bibliography can be exported into the different bibliographic formats. I thought this was a very cool application.

Smoking Jacket

The Smoking Jacket by Fiona Carswell is part of a project “…exploring reflective design as it relates to the body, behavioral choices, and information displays.”

The idea is to remind the smoker about the consequences of smoking. The jacket “…has a built-in pair of lungs on the front. As the wearer smokes, the lungs fill up with the exhaled cigarette smoke and begin to gradually darken over time.”

Smoking Jacket

At first I thought this was kind of creepy but now I think the jacket is a bit cool – maybe too cool? Instead of acting as a deterrent it may even encourage users?
(via Art Threat)