Culture, government, sousveillance

An essay over at Shift called the Privatization of Our Culture is a decent overview of why there are problems with IP. I have a hard time explaining this sometimes, because it seems so obvious to me. It’s thesis is that:

The discoveries, eureka-moments, fables, characters, songs and jokes that form the only common ground we share as citizens — the set of ideas collectively known as “The West” — are now the property of a few multinational corporations. Our entire culture has fallen into private hands, taking with it our right to tell our stories, our right to keep our personal lives personal, even our right to heal our sick. THIS SUCKS. THIS IS VERY BAD.

And as long as we are looking at basic intros, I enjoyed Jason Lubyk’s short essay on networked (alternatives to) politics in The Thresher, as well. Someone needs to tell him that there is a perfectly good English alternative to “de-evolution,” though :).

Finally, Steve Mann (of wearables fame) has an essay on “sousveillance” (surveillance from below). I think he misses some of the fairly important negative impacts of “sousveillance.” Take, for example, his claim that good professors prefer sousveillance from their students, but bad ones do not. In fact, surveillance from below does not change the structure of power, and as long as the information filters back up to the top (e.g., the prof is “ratted out” for not complying with centralized edicts), it reinforces the power structure as it is. Besides, I would only use the word if I were allowed to pronounce it in an Americanized way (i.e., so that it sounded like it was a product of Dr. Suess), otherwise it sounds confusingly like the more familiar term.

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