10 years ago, the Free Web was revolutionary, democratizing, and empowering. Many of us correctly compared it to the advent of the printing press, another revolutionary technology that was inextricably linked to the Reformation that soon followed.
What I didn’t consider was that also inextricably linked to the Reformation were the European Witch Hunts. (Perhaps not inextricably linked, but simultaneous, were the European Enclosures.) Now we’re seeing online Witch Hunts (and Enclosures too, hello Social Media). So my enthusiasm for the Internet is a lot more qualified now, as is whatever I had for the Reformation.
Recommended reading (albeit in leaden academic prose – someone should rewrite it for a popular audience!): Caliban and the Witch
This afternoon I gave a Sita Sings the Blues talk to a roomful of 15-to-17-year-olds. Near the end I explained Free Culture and my stance against copyright, which led to some interesting discussion. Turns out most of them are manga fans, and familiar with publishers’ complaints about scanned and translated manga shared freely online. They all read them anyway (except one, who prefers to read entire manga in the bookstore). I asked them how they would choose to support artists they liked (once they had some disposable income) and they said:
- Donate buttons – with the qualification that they want to know as much as possible about where the donation is going. They said honesty and transparency are important.
- Kickstarter – They all knew about it (which was notable because none of them had heard of Flattr) and valued pitch videos that explained how the money would be used.
- Custom drawings
- Physical copies
- Live Shared Experiences, including ballet, museum exhibits, and concerts. The event aspect was important; they wanted to be able to say, “Remember that one time when that awesome show was here…” They agreed seeing things in person is a more powerful experience than seeing things online, and worth spending more on. One said she would buy CD at a live show because “it reminds you of the show.”
- One said he would support artists by promoting their work to his friends.
Semi-related, I took an informal poll of how many would prefer to read a book on paper vs. an e-reader. The vast majority said paper, but what they really seemed to want was dual formats: paper copies to read comfortably and collect, and digital copies to search and reference. Makes sense to me. Only two of them had iPads, and none used them for “enhanced eBooks.”
My favorite quote of the afternoon:
“We don’t want everything for free. We just want everything.”
I interrupt this series of Ziz iterations to tell you about a new book you are likely to enjoy. It’s called Crazy Little Thing: Why Love and Sex Drive us Mad, by Liz Langley. Why are you reading about it here on my blog? Because there’s a whole chapter about ME, that’s why! Apparently I am a paragon of how not to kill your ex in a tormented rage, and make a work of art instead. Most of the other profiles in the book are about people killing/maiming/permanently damaging their exes or themselves after breakups, but an alternative is to make a feature film, which is what I did and how I merited this sweeeet chapter. Also the book is well-written and funny, and you should read it.
Order it by clicking the new “Store” tab at mimiandeunice.com.
“I laughed out loud!…[The Intellectual Pooperty cartoons] are very very funny….however, if you could inform readers that this naive concept doesn’t correspond to the laws that actually exist, it would avoid encouraging them to believe that it does.”
Here’s a photo of the book surrounded by more copies of the book with pages open in seductive poses:
I’m dazzled by too much brilliance today. First, there’s Graham Rawle’s masterpiece Woman’s World.
It is so good. The whole thing is “written” in collaged snippets of old British women’s magazines. On top of that, the story is moving, suspenseful, and engaging from start to finish, as well as funny, deep and clever. For something that could stand on its own for being technically singular and “meta,” it packs an enormous emotional wallop.
It’s a sad comment on society that this book isn’t more widely famous. Still, I’m grateful just to have read it.
Rawle also has a blog where you can see his latest creations, including the weekly “Bright Ideas“.
No sooner had I finished Woman’s World than I started Sanjay Patel‘s breathtakingly beautiful Ramayana: Divine Loophole. Sanjay and I joined the same Mutual Admiration Society a few years ago, before Sita was even finished. We independently developed graphic 2-D stylings of the Ramayana; his are more intricate and angular, while mine are more rounded and outlined. There’s been a wee bit of confusion among friends and Sita fans which I’d like to put to rest: I love this book, it’s not “edging in” on Sita’s “territory,” and y’all should admire a copy for yourselves. Besides, there is no Sita print book available, and if there were it wouldn’t be this good.
Its publisher, Chronicle Books, has conventionally stingy ideas about sharing images online; Michael Sporn had to scan his review copy himself. Fortunately, Sanjay has more images on his web site. Even if every image were available digitally, they wouldn’t compete with the physical beauty of the printed object. The production values of this thing are extraordinary. You want to touch it and smell it. Every page is printed crisply and perfectly, with color bleeding off each knife-sharp edge. It’s everything a graphic book should be, offering a sensual, immersive experience. Like one reviewer wrote, “I want to physically jump into this book.” It’s a container worthy of its content, restricted or not.
The Open-Source Coffee Table Book: Publishing Pop Culture in the Digital Age
Nina Paley (Nina Paley Productions, LLC)
5:25pm Wednesday, 02/11/2009
Location: Broadway North (6th Floor)
New York Marriott Marquis Times Square
Why should techies have all the fun? The few publishers to embrace open content focus primarily on technical books. But an increasing number of artists and pop culture creators are seeking alternatives to copy restricting their works. What works for Cory Doctorow’s science fiction can also work for graphic novels, art and coffee table books. Unfortunately, publishers that historically specialize in popular culture – many of which are subsidiaries of the same media conglomerates pushing DRM and extending copyright enforcement – are unwilling to pursue the open-source model. Will existing open-source publishers expand into pop culture to exploit this niche? Will new publishers emerge to serve both pop culture markets and artists?
I’m making a power point (excuse me, keynote) presentation and everything.