After a lot of work and hard discussions Creative Commons now launches the fourth version of their licenses. From the CC blog
We proudly introduce our 4.0 licenses, now available for adoption worldwide. The 4.0 licenses — more than two years in the making — are the most global, legally robust licenses produced by CC to date. We have incorporated dozens of improvements that make sharing and reusing CC-licensed materials easier and more dependable than ever before.
Brilliant quote from an interesting article:
“Privacy isn’t your right anymore. We sold it for pictures of cats and the ability to tell anyone in the free world what we had for breakfast.”
The French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard has an excellent quote on originality:
‘It’s not where you take things from. It’s where you take them to.’
I came across this on Doctorow‘s blog where he was quoting Jim Jarmusch who was quoting Godard.
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations. Architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable. Originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said, ‘It’s not where you take things from. It’s where you take them to.’”
Both are similar to, but much better than the worn Picasso quote
“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”
This is not a blog about business administration but after reading an article about the demise of Microsoft and the Stack Rating system, I needed to vent. This is the most horrible and destructive staff system I’ve ever heard of (this side of an actual whip).
The use of stack ranking actually creates a structural disincentive to be creative and nurturing a team spirit. It might be rather good for created fear and paranoia. But these are going to help innovation.
Kurt Eichenwald at Vanity Fair explains stack ranking:
At the center of the cultural problems was a management system called “stack ranking.” Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees. The system—also referred to as “the performance model,” “the bell curve,” or just “the employee review”—has, with certain variations over the years, worked like this: every unit was forced to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, then good performers, then average, then below average, then poor. …
For that reason, executives said, a lot of Microsoft superstars did everything they could to avoid working alongside other top-notch developers, out of fear that they would be hurt in the rankings. And the reviews had real-world consequences: those at the top received bonuses and promotions; those at the bottom usually received no cash or were shown the door. …
“The behavior this engenders, people do everything they can to stay out of the bottom bucket,” one Microsoft engineer said. “People responsible for features will openly sabotage other people’s efforts. One of the most valuable things I learned was to give the appearance of being courteous while withholding just enough information from colleagues to ensure they didn’t get ahead of me on the rankings.” Worse, because the reviews came every six months, employees and their supervisors—who were also ranked—focused on their short-term performance, rather than on longer efforts to innovate. …
Slate Magazine sums it up nicely: So while Google was encouraging its employees to spend 20 percent of their time to work on ideas that excited them personally, Ballmer was inadvertently encouraging his to spend a good chunk of their time playing office politics. Why try to outrun the bear when you can just tie your co-workers’ shoelaces?
The scary part about the whole NSA Prism story is the predictability, if not inevitability of the whole affair. The shock of the disclosure lies mainly in the hope that government will not do what they have the power to do.
Via BoingBoing comes this 1983 article from The New York Times written by David Burnham: THE SILENT POWER OF THE N.S.A.
No laws define the limits of the N.S.A.’s power. No Congressional committee subjects the agency’s budget to a systematic, informed and skeptical review. With unknown billions of Federal dollars, the agency purchases the most sophisticated communications and computer equipment in the world. But truly to comprehend the growing reach of this formidable organization, it is necessary to recall once again how the computers that power the N.S.A. are also gradually changing lives of Americans – the way they bank, obtain benefits from the Government and communicate with family and friends. Every day, in almost every area of culture and commerce, systems and procedures are being adopted by private companies and organizations as well as by the nation’s security leaders that make it easier for the N.S.A. to dominate American society should it ever decide such action is necessary.
Eminem played a concert at Slane Castle in Ireland and 63 people were arrested. But the news online was not about the performance or the arrests but about a girl giving a guy a blowjob. She is now being mocked and shamed and has been given the epithet SlaneGirl. Sadly the hashtag #slanegirl is apparently trending in Ireland.
The slut-shaming is apparent with nobody criticizing the men involved, the people who took photos, the people who put photo’s online or the people who happily spread the photo’s on various social media. Some of the discussions are balanced this blog post or this but there are also the discussion threads on Reddit and other sites. Most harmful in the wider sense is the widespread shouting on Facebook and Twitter.
There has also been good support in discussions online, on Twitter and what about the Facebook page: Solidarity With Slanegirl We Suck Dick Too
So thanks to social media I wake up in the morning to find out people are angry at other people having sex. Oh the shock and horror. Imagine that.
What still surprises me is the way in which the gossiping about someone nobody knows but feels the need to include photographic proof and judgements of the person. All this rage and indignation… does it really stem from the fact that someone we don’t know gave a blowjob to someone else we don’t know? Really?
There are social reasons for gossip and pointless smalltalk but the need to be among the ones who spread the images are difficult to tease out for me.
The photographer Arne Svenson has an amazing series of photographs. What he has done is photographed his neighbors in the building opposite from where he lives in New York. Using a 500mm lens he peered through the glass-faced building and took some amazing shots.
The result is a series of images called The Neighbors. They are very personal images into peoples private lives but – from what I’ve seen online – none of the images clearly identify anyone. On the artist’s site this is how the photographs are explained:
The grid structure of the windows frame the quotidian activities of the neighbors, forming images which are puzzling, endearing, theatrical and often seem to mimic art history, from Delacroix to Vermeer. The Neighbors is social documentation in a very rarified environment. The large color prints have been cropped to various orientations and sizes to condense and focus the action.
The Guardian has a quote from Svenson about his work:
“I don’t photograph anything salacious or demeaning,” is Svenson’s stock retort when pressed on his work’s morality. “I am not photographing the residents as specific, identifiable individuals, but as representations of humankind.”
Despite this, two neighbors sued Svenson after having spotting their children among the subjects. Yet a court ruled this month that Svenson’s actions were defensible under the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, and that such art needs no consent to be made or sold.
The interesting thing is that Svenson seems to express a clear ethical boundary. He is taking photographs of people, without their consent, inside their homes and making them public. And yet he does draw the line at making individuals identifiable.
Lifelogging has been a buzzword for some time now, but its still a cumbersome task for most of us. But this is not going to last long.
One device that’s going to make this all too easy is the Memoto, which has the tag line “Remember every moment.”
The product is small and simple, clip it on and it takes two photos per minute until you take it off. In the promotion video Memoto says: “What if we could build a camera small enough to never be in the way, but smart enough to capture life as we live it.”
The mass of 5 megapixel pictures are stored on Memoto’s storage surface, and include the time and the location where they were taken. Via an app the photo’s are searchable via gps and time.
When the images are stored on the cloud they are organized into moments, represented by the algorithmically chosen most interesting image.
Sure this is a cool toy, its small, light and colorful. But it also raises several ethical implications. Such as:
- Many of the people around will have no idea they are being photographed by the device
- People may object in general to having their time and location and image stored
- What happens if the device carrier walks into sensitive areas such as hospitals, courts, police stations
- Who controls the images
- Who accesses the images (legally or illegally)
- Copyright questions
- Trade secrets
Despite all these questions the devices are available and will probably be around soon. A day will produce over 1000 pictures – which explains the need for the algorithm to help us sift through the garbage. But even then I suspect that most of us will realize that we live fundamentally boring lives, probably not worth documenting.
In 2005 I met the cool Karl Jonsson (the original hard rock hippie lawyer) and began on a translating and adapting the Creative Commons licenses to fit into the Swedish socio-legal system. Since then I have been the Project Lead for Creative Commons Sweden and have given countless lectures on the way the licenses work.
We were joined in 2009 by the energetic and creative Kristina Alexanderson together we formed a fantastic team, working voluntarily with the licenses and culture of sharing we believe so strongly in.
For some time, I have been spending time in Philadelphia and I am slowly transitioning my life to spend all my time there.
Americano by Wrote (Creative Commons BY NC)
The distance and the time zones makes it more difficult for me to be an active project lead so the project needs to be handed over to another. The person needs to be what in Swedish is called by the beautiful word eldsjäl – which translates as fire soul.
Fortunately this description fits well on our very own Kristina is now taking over as Project Lead for Creative Commons Sweden. There is a sweet sadness in leaving the post, but I am happy that the project is left in great hands.