Jana | TED Talk: Larry Lessig on laws that choke creativity

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Larry Lessig shares three stories:

Lessig begins by examining the 20th century fear that user-generated content will soon be obliterated with the rise of infernal “talking” machines, a concept propagated by John Phillip Sousa who felt the machines would ruin artistic development of music in the country. This read only culture became a serious threat as we deviated from a read-write culture where people participated in the creation and recreation of content. Creativity became top down, where readers were no longer creators. It appeared that we did indeed “lose our vocal chords.”

Secondly, Lessig comments on the ludicrous components of the trespassing land law that granted private ownership of land all the way below the property and indefinitely upward. Such a doctrine had no place in the modern world, and appeals to this law (air traffic example) made no “common sense.”

Thirdly, Lessig discusses broadcasting and how it introduced a new way to spread content. However, ASCAP, the company that controlled broadcast music, inflated their rates to ridiculously high levels. This prompted the formation of a new method of broadcasting, exemplified by BMI, where arrangements of public domain works were distributed for free.

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With the constant inundation of various social media sites, it seems near impossible to keep up with the latest trends. One website that has gained popularity throughout the past year has been Formspring, a question-and-answer-based social website. Formspring was launched in November of 2009 initially by Formstack , an online form builder that allows users to create surveys, but as a result of the website’s success, Formspring.me became its own separate company in January of 2010. Formspring emphasizes a facet of the internet that very few other social websites exploit–anonymity. Most social websites such as Facebook take pride in obtaining as much information about you as possible and publicizing it. Formspring, on the other hand, is focused around the lack of knowledge of its users. In an attempt to further examine the social phenomenon that Formspring poses, I created my very own Formspring account as well as a survey for Formspring users. To further my research in a more factually grounded manner, I conducted brief interviews with a Formspring administrator, in addition to three Formspring users of various ages-middle school, high school, and college. Through my research, I examined the asymmetrical social interaction that Formspring has created between users and how Formspring has aided in changing social behavior and culture.

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In a world where image is everything, Dump.fm fits right in. Co-founded by Internet Archaeology‘s Ryder Ripps, Scott Ostler of the publishing framework MIT Exhibit and core social bookmark programmer for Delicious, Tim Baker, Dump.fm is an outlet for real-time image communication. Says Ripps, “In a way, it is an iteration of both the chat room and the image board, as it uses pictures to create conversation.” The site allows users to upload images from their hard drive, post from their webcam, or paste URLs of images from anywhere online into single chat room.

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I had started with the idea of looking at the relation between ticket sales and arts organizations’ Facebook popularity, but as you all pointed out in class that seems like a huge task and maybe an impossible one. On one arts marketing blog I was able to find that studies in this area have actually been done already. Yale Repertory Theater did a study on the relationship between their Facebook activity and ticket sales. I have tried reaching out to them to get their results, but no luck yet. Check out the blog post here: http://bit.ly/n5RiP and Yale’s Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/yalerep.

Since I’ve been having trouble finding any information in regards to ticket sales, I started to look at how non-profit arts organizations use their Facebook pages, and why they seem to be so successful compared to other companies. To keep my focus, I’ve stuck with the Metropolitan Opera and American Ballet Theatre as my non profits and Le Poisson Rouge and Madison Square Garden as my commercial venues. Here’s a breakdown of their Facebook stats:

  • Met Opera: 87,996 fans
  • ABT: 132,921 fans
  • Poisson Rouge: 6,806 fans
  • MSG: 373 fans

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