Why government shouldn’t have a sense of humor

You’ve heard it before… social media is a cocktail party. You have to be interesting and interact. Lurk at a cocktail party and you will get bored. Even worse your friends will get bored of you and not invite you again. So get stuck in there.

The problem is that this is a metaphor… Being funny at a cocktail might be ok. Being amusing on social media? Not always. Not for the first time I put forward this view at a discussion between politicians and social media scholars in Borås.

Here I argued that tone of voice is important and government bodies should be wary of social media. In particular I used examples of the police in a Swedish town creating and using their own Gangnam Style parody. I tried to explain that this was problematic in relation to copyright law, use of government property and the way in which the police are to be perceived.

Not everyone agreed. They argued funny was good for government and that parodying popular memes could only create a popular buzz. We agreed to disagree. So today, not without a touch of schadenfreude, I read this on Torrentfreak:

Four mayors in Denmark now know what it’s like to become a target of an international recording label out for blood over copyright. The controversy stems from the publication of a YouTube video featuring the officials dancing to Gangnam Style. Universal Music, the company holding the copyright to the original track, have warned the mayors that unless they pay $42,000 by tomorrow, a copyright infringement battle will follow.

Supposing they “chose” to pay rather than going to court my question is who should pay? Should the Danish taxpayer be forced to pay for the mayors’ lack of judgement? Or is it a personal liability? Shouldn’t the mayors been doing something better with their time that attempting to follow the tail end of a dying meme?

So the next time someone questions my ideas about the importance that government bodies not have a sense of humor I shall ask if they can afford their own amusement.

Plagiarism and the desire to share

Finnish media reports that Kristina Isola, a designer at Marimekko has apologized for plagiarizing a painting by Maria Primachenko in her print Metsänväki (“Forest Dwellers”). Plagiarism is not that newsworthy but her motivation caught my eye:

“I didn’t think about copyright or that I appropriated someone else’s creative work. “Forest folk” felt so close to me and I wanted to share that forest feeling with as many people as possible,”

The desire to share objects of beauty is probably one of the causes that drives most of Pinterest. This doesn’t diminish the charges of plagiarism or copyright violation but at what point does the desire to share beauty become socially/legally wrong?

Sun, Sand and GikII VIII

It’s GikII time.

When robots, drones, autonomous agents, Facebook stalking, teleportation, 3D printing, MMORPGS, science fiction, computer games and superhero justice are discussed within the realms of the law and LOL cats, you know the time for the annual GikII workshop has arrived! Yes it’s time for GikII VIII – and a time to immerse ourselves in debates about cutting-edge technology, popular culture and the law.

This year GikII will be “in sunny, golden-sandy Southern city of Bournemouth with its sparkling sea and almost California-like-but-not-quite atmosphere. It will be held on 16-17 September 2013″

All the info you need is over here.

Leaving comfort zone for Philadelphia

Comfort is a dangerous thing. By becoming comfortable we stop moving, we remain in our comfort zones. These can be mental, physical, geographical, emotional…

The desire to remain within a comfort zone is obvious. It’s nicely illustrated in an episode of The Big Bang Theory where Penny attempts to teach Sheldon to act (Series 4 Episode 14 – The Thespian Catalyst)

Penny: Okay, that’s fine, but let’s try and get you out of your comfort zone.

Sheldon: Why would we want to do that? It’s called the comfort zone for a reason.

Resting is tempting but movement is more important. Michelle wrote some very sound advice in HOWTO: Be a cool old person which includes things like learn a new language every decade & Move. I really should be learning a new language but this time I shall start with moving.

So with this in mind I am exiting Europe, heading West and relocating to Philadelphia!

Making attribution work

One of the problems with using as many Creative Commons licensed images as I do is creating and maintaining a system so that I am able to attribute the right picture to the right creator in the right way.

This is why I’m excited about the project Commons Machinery that promises to make my life much easier.

Commons Machinery is building infrastructure in support of the Commons. Our aim is to make the use of digital works as easy as possible by developing new technology built on open standards for licensing, attribution and provenance.

So support Commons Machinery and make attribution (and life) easier.

Surveillance and hi-resolution

Huge hi-res images are fascinating and the London Panorama from the BT Tower is no exception. But the resolution got me thinking that this was an excellent visualization of what surveillance really can look like. It’s not only the barely visible images taken from cheap cameras on walls. Check out the zoom on this baby…

Do you see the man with the red shirt and glasses?

Social Media for Coping with Grieving and Bereavement

My colleague Ylva and I are hoping to organize a panel at IR14 in Denver http://ir14.aoir.org on the use of social media for coping with grieving and bereavement.

If you are interested in participating please send us your short paper. In order to put together the panel application we need your submission by 1 March, please email your work to us. We will then put together the panel and submit everything to the final deadline by 14 March.

Here are the instructions
SHORT PAPERS (individual or multi-author) – Minimum 1000 words, 1200 word maximum not including bibliography. Papers should include:
- Description/summary of the work’s intellectual merit with respect to its findings, its relation to extant research and its broader impacts.
- A description of the methodological approach or the theoretical underpinnings informing the research inquiry.
- Conclusions or discussion of findings.
- Bibliography of work cited.
- Submissions must adhere to the template for the conference. http://ir14.aoir.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/SPIR2013_template.doc

Online instructions http://ir14.aoir.org/cfp/

We are also interested in gathering or joining a larger international network in this topic in order to carry out cross-cultural comparisons.

Ylva Hård af Segerstad
hardy@chalmers.se

Mathias Klang
klangm@chalmers.se

Science Roulette

Most of the time my work is interesting, even fascinating, but sometimes I even get to do cool stuff. One such job is to be part of the organizers of the Gothenburg Science Festival where I get to bring together interesting people for one of Europe’s popular science events.

The organizational work is almost done. The program is in the proofs and will be sent to the publishers and I am now working on last minute corrections and amendments. Most fun today? To find additional participants for the science roulette.

What is the Science Roulette?

On Friday 26 April between 5pm-6pm at the Liseberg amusement park the Ferris Wheel will be filled with scientists. One researcher per car will present his/her research to the other passengers of the car. The researcher has 15 minutes to explain his/her research. The process is repeated four times.

Your research here:

Lisebergshjulet på Liseberg, Göteborg Sweden by Solvarm (Creative Commons BY)

Seriously whacky! Get to present your research while the car goes around and up to a height of 60m. Isn’t this a cool way to spend a Friday? If you would like to participate then email me klang@ituniv.se but its the last day so email me today!