Category Archives: free culture

For amateurs and dilettantes who do not rely on their art for a living, moving to the commons has plenty of upside and little downside. For creative professionals, however, particularly those burdened by economic hardship, the risks associated with transitioning to a non-proprietary business model can feel (rightly or wrongly) prohibitive. Often times, the typical free culture advocate’s response to this concern is to either dismiss it, to reemphasize the moral case for freedom, or to point to others’ success stories as proof that “it can be done.”

We believe these responses are insufficient and miss the deeper point: no matter how feasible commons-based production may appear to those who are familiar with it, for those suffering from the paralyzing effects of systemic money scarcity – unemployment, poverty, overwhelming consumer debt – the free culture response is incomplete at best, and callous at worst.

Our proposal for addressing this issue is to combine the free culture movement’s view of the bitstream economy with the Modern Money view of the monetary economy.

Free Culture? Free Finance by The Modern Money Network (Columbia Chapter)

Ex-CIA Spy on Revolution

Unfortunately, the gap between those with money and power and those who actually know what they are talking about has grown catastrophic. The rich are surrounded by sycophants and pretenders whose continued employment demands that they not question the premises. As Larry Summers lectured Elizabeth Warren, ‘insiders do not criticise insiders.'”

But how can activists actually start moving toward the open source vision now? “For starters, there are eight ‘tribes’ that among them can bring together all relevant information: academia, civil society including labor unions and religions, commerce especially small business, government especially local, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit. At every level from local to global, across every mission area, we need to create stewardship councils integrating personalities and information from all eight tribes. We don’t need to wait around for someone else to get started. All of us who recognise the vitality of this possibility can begin creating these new grassroots structures from the bottom-up, right now.

Lightworks – Pro video editing for Linux?

Anyone have any experience with Lightworks?

Very affordable ($60) video editing software, claims to be pro, and they (beta) support Linux!

I need to upgrade my video-editing set-up and with the demise of FCP really not sure what to do.

Apple makes a great laptop but I’m sick of using it for editing. I want a high-powered tower that I can upgrade myself as funds become available (and that will function decently with the limited budget I have now). The new Mac Pro will surely be out of my price range & I detest being locked into one manufacturer’s hardware, especially when nothing but the RAM appears to be upgradeable. And it looks idiotic. But the thought of running Windows is unsavory, to say the least. A Hackintosh seems like more trouble than it’s worth, but maybe not…

Linux is already standard for render-farms, and Blender is supposedly quite good, and Black Magic’s DaVinci Resolve (pro color-correction software) runs on Linux. So Linux seems like a promising environment for pro video editing & post. But the editing options were dire last I checked (albeit a couple years ago) — doable for simple web videos, perhaps, but buggy and definitely not set up for making deliverables for a professional post house. Though mencoder can probably do anything; perhaps I’ll end up with some convoluted workflow of editing on a Mac and compressing with Linux?

Anyway, mulling over the next upgrade. Avid on a PC? FCP-X or Avid on the cheapest Mac that will work with eSATA? Premiere on any of the above? None of these are particularly appealing, so I’ll be very excited if a Linux video workstation were to become a not-insane option. Lightworks on Linux is in Beta now, with a very long list of bugs, so it still qualifies as insane for the moment. But I’ll definitely be keeping tabs on it over the next year.

Edward Snowden’s Opening Statement


“NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I don’t want to live in a society …”

“You could not have done better if you had gone to central casting and had a professional scriptwriter. He’s on the nerdy side of attractive, sensible-sounding and relaxed, articulate, and able to deliver key points in a compact, mass market friendly manner.” Yves Smith

I was surprised that the existence/extent of our surveillance state was a surprise. Didn’t everybody know that? But the way the Guardian/Greenwald have played this so far is wonderful. The prosecution of whistleblowers is in many ways a much greater threat to our freedom than the spying. It seems completely inescapable that private data will be collected by both corporations and governments so long as the server space & energy exists to do so cheaply. But it’s what’s done with the data that’s scary, especially the lack of consequences for abusers of data. Whistleblowers are a crucial line of defense against abuse. This is true not just of surveillance but also financial & environmental regulation, for example. Consistently we’ve been prosecuting the whistleblowers instead of the criminals, accelerating the cycle of corruption and decay in government and society.

For Edward Snowden to publicly reveal himself at the height of media attention on the story, is a masterful shift of the story away from “privacy” and towards “importance & vulnerability of the little guy who speaks out against the system.” Whereas police brutality was arguably a distraction from Occupy’s message of income inequality, I hope whistleblower prosecution usurps the surveillance debate. Which isn’t to say that surveillance isn’t a huge issue. It deserves the spotlight, or even better, full sun. But we can’t make any traction on that issue, or financial crimes, or unsafe power plants, etc., if we keep ignoring & imprisoning whistleblowers.

In this video Snowden is a perfectly-cast hero for the whistleblower plight. If a more confident America in 1964 got Mario Savio speaking truth to power, then for 2013, with our “rockstars” being Facebook developers (or some such nonsense), Snowden is perfect: white, male, nerdy, calm, non-threatening, attractive enough to look good on camera, “self-made” high school drop out who went on to a lucrative upper-middle class career thanks to his skills. Basically, how the archetypal Redditor imagines himself to be.

So we finally have a narrative to make rally around whistleblower protection. Exquisitely played PR, Mr. Greenwald. What Cindy Sheehan was to the anti-war movement, perhaps Edward Snowden will be to whistleblowers. Of course, that means the counter-PR will ferocious. So far Snowden appears to have more foresight than Manning and more humility than (and hopefully none of the rapiness of) Assange. So it remains to be seen how they’ll go about destroying him in the court of public opinion. I am relieved that he seems to have gone into this with his eyes open, fully aware of what he is sacrificing. He deserves our gratitude and admiration. The battle ahead will be nasty indeed.

Diaspora* is [probably not] the new facebook

Diaspora* is a noble attempt to provide an alternative to that evil CIA-backed walled garden named Facebook. It’s an open-source, distributed, community-funded social network. They just launched their feature-poor and riddled-with-bugs alpha site. Still a long way to go before it can compete with the FB, but I support the spirit of the venture…

Add me: rrrojer@joindiaspora.com

I have a few invites left, hit me up if you want one.


BBC on Diaspora

The Information Super-Sewer – Chris Hedges’ damning critique of Free Culture

The only income left for most of those who create is earned through self-promotion, but as Lanier points out this turns culture into nothing but advertising. It fosters a social ethic in which the capacity for crowd manipulation is more highly valued than truth, beauty or thought.

While the severing of intellectual property rights from their creators, whether journalists, photographers or musicians, means that those who create lose the capacity to make a living from their work, aggregators such as Google make money by collecting and distributing this work to lure advertisers. Original work on the Internet, as Lanier points out, is “copied, mashed up, anonymized, analyzed, and turned into bricks in someone else’s fortress to support an advertising scheme.” Lanier warns that if this trend is not halted it will create a “formula that leaves no way for our nation to earn a living in the long term.”

“Funding a civilization through advertising is like trying to get nutrition by connecting a tube from one’s anus to one’s mouth,” Lanier says.

Chris Hedges: The Information Super-Sewer – Chris Hedges’ Columns – Truthdig

tubemouthanus

As a founding (now lapsed) member of Harvard Free Culture and a former employee of Creative Commons, these are some pretty hard truths, thoughts I’ve been harboring for over 3 years now but reluctant to state publicly. But perhaps as a result of working on my thesis film— by far my most substantial endeavor to date— combined with getting ready to graduate— meaning next year not only will I no longer have institutional/financial support for making art, but I will have to actually earn a living— that I feel like it’s time to come out about my growing ambivalence towards “free culture.”

Continue reading

Century of the Self

“This series is about how those in power have used Freud’s theories to try and control the angerous crowd in an age of mass democracy.” – Adam Curtis

For anyone interested in why our culture is as it is today, I strongly urge you to watch The Century of the Self, an incredible documentary/film essay by Adam Curtis. It traces the rise of consumerism through the lens of PR and psychoanalysis.

hook

Rather than just a catalog of how our society is broken, The Century of the Self documents how specific people, in particular “father of PR” Edward Bernays, made deliberate and calculated efforts to get us here. At least according to this film, consumer culture was not entirely a happy accident; our corporate forefathers were quite aware of what they were doing, with the explicit intention of “controlling people through their subconscious desires.”

I generally avoid documentaries because I hate that feeling of despair and disgust as I sit helplessly outraged in front of the screen, watching the credits roll. Century of the Self certainly invokes such emotions. But the helplessness is overshadowed by a sort of internal mental churning, as my mind picks apart its psyche. A potently interactive viewing experience, the film forces one to question their own values. It outlines the trajectory of ideas such as “individualism” and “self expression” in our society, documenting their promotion and exploring their broader implications. Afterwards, one cannot help but attempt to articulate their own fuzzy but ingrained values, and to ask who put them there, and if they belong.

Episode 1: Happiness Machines
Episode 2. The Engineering of Consent
Episode 3: There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads: He Must Be Destroyed
Episode 4: Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering

[via Dad, image by me circa grade 8]

Pledge to WFMU!!!!

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100% listener-supported free-form commercial free radio, straight outta dirty jerz.

WFMU is free culture in action: an obscene amount of music, including tons and tons of live stuff recorded in the studio, broadcast on the air and online for FREE. Not digging what’s on the air right now? Check out the endless archives. No cost to your wallet and no cost to your soul: no bullshit ads, government subsidies, or corporate underwriting. Plus WFMU is spearheading the fight to save net radio.

But they can’t keep doing it without donations, and this year in particular they really need the money. By pledging you not only get to feel warm and fuzzy about supporting one of the nation’s most important artistic communities, you also get super hip swag and hand-crafted DJ premiums.

Please, send these guys some love and some money, or else we’ll be left with exactly what we deserve.



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Also, tune in tomorrow (Sunday) for Yo La Tengo’s annual live marathon set from 5-8pm EST.
[audio:http://blogfiles.wfmu.org/DG/Yo_La_Tengo_-_Sweet_Dreams.mp3]
Preview: Yo La Tengo covers Sweet Dreams

long time no blog

some of the things I’ve done instead:

  • Designed a PDF of Sharing Creative Works, the Creative Commons comic I worked on with Alex Roberts and Jon Phillips. Did this with Scribus, an open source desktop publishing app that seems to have finally reached maturity (usable interface, doesn’t crash every couple of hours).
  • Wrote the copy for Simple Licensing, a Creative Commons infodoc designed by Alex, with contributions from Jon and Tim.
  • Redesigned the Lampoon website.
  • Sold out
  • Bunch of arty stuff. More on this later…

Lots of stuff in the blog queue, gonna get on that.