Good Copy Bad Copy

22 05 2008

I recently spoke to a friend in the music industry: he had given up. His friend’s kids in fourth grade looked at him like a lunatic when he asked what they thought of record stores. They had never been to one. A 20-something relative of mine watches and listens to all media on his laptop in his parents home. He doesn’t own a single record. What’s happening with digital information?

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The Danish documentary GOOD COPY BAD COPY takes a global view on digital reproduction and remixing. It traces copyright and digital reproduction in the US, Russia, Brazil, and Nigeria, and shows the variety of ways that people and societies handle infinite replication without quality loss. How does a county without copyright handle movie making? How do low cost producers and DJs in Brazil make money? Recommended viewing.

Also check out this blogpost on DRM.





Copy-Paste Culture

29 02 2008

I’ve sometimes wondered whether there is any credence to if we live in a copy paste culture which is changing the way we produce and relate to texts. Now there seems to be evicence that indeed we are. According to Microsoft the single most used command in Office is Paste!

Windows Office team learned that paste is the most-used command in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (accounting for 11%, 15%, and 12% (respectively) of all commands issued in each application).

This could be something for the RIAA.

Via the Mac Office Team blog.





Open and International ISI?

18 12 2007

Open access journals can be compared to musicians who release their music on myspace or on the Pirate Bay. Rather than being locked into copyrights owned by large corporations, open access content flows free. This seems to be a growing movement in academia that aims to circumvent the publishing houses that have made academic publishing big business.

The question is when ISI ranking will be replaced with an open alternative, perhaps taking into account several types of data like the 0xdb for movies. Currently, according to Wikipedia, there are a billion English speakers on a “basic” level, hopefully such an index might allow “international” to be broadened to include the 400 million native Spanish speakers (600 million if you count the Portuguese speakers who could probably decipher Spanish), or the billion+ that can read Chinese characters. Why English should be the only lingua franca of academia is a good question.

See: Open access in STS or On Academic Productivity





Academic Production

15 12 2007

Alf Rehn over at Text Sushi has been thinking about academic productivity lately, on one hand he rants on writing books , on the other he wants assistants to do it…

Sarcasm aside, I think these two posts really capture the risks with the publish or perish system. If every academic has to increase their research output there is bound to be people finding ways to circumvent the system: publishing with a mulittude of authors, makings students and assistants do your job, recycling the same ideas in different articles.

The increasing pressure to publish isn’t really an increasing pressure to research… It’s an increasing pressure to find creative ways to publish. Fordist research production… I’m thinking “Word Research Article Plugin”: File -> Export -> Article or “It looks like you’re writing a scholarly article? Do you want to start the Article Wizard.”





60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

6 12 2007

On monday the UN 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 starts.

I’ve been thinking about human rights for a time. Can human rights be universal? Can a single set of rights be valid in different cultures?

On one hand my social-liberal side wants to say “of course”, there are some rights which are universal and must be accepted by everyone everywhere. On the other hand I also feel that the thought of a universal rule about human conduct is absurd: values and judgments change over time and space.

This conflict between local and universal is often a burning problem in discussions on Islamic head coverings and secular western culture. I heard an interview on Swedish radio with an Egyptian feminist scholar who argued that head coverings were a matter of fashion, deep belief and choice — not something that could be defined by secular law. The Burka or Niqab really poses a crucial question in relation to human rights. Which rules are to be obeyed? The religious customs, protected by article 2, or secular Egyptian laws preventing the use of head coverings.

The problem is that the rules set forth in the universal declaration are contradictory: the freedom of religion sometimes stands in opposition to, for example, equality before the law. This illuminates a basic problem of stating that the declaration is universal — it is written from the point of view of values from a certain time and place.

But what is the alternative? Often I believe some kind of situated pragmatism is called for, where local conditions are weighed against the universal. But this also denies the power of creating a Universal law valid for everyone.





Top 11 Universities of Sweden 2007

17 08 2007

Here I go again. My posts about Top 10 Universities of Sweden are by far the most popular posts in my blog. I got so many questions about what the best institutions were for xxx (insert your subject here) that I had to remove the possibility to comment on my old entries (here, and here).

For an interesting read about the manipulations of the US University ranking system read David L. Kirp’s book Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education, which I reveiwed in no. 15/2006 of Utbildning & Demokrati (Education & Democracy).

Anyway, Shanghai Jiao Tong University has done it again, and ranked the world’s top 500 universities. And as usual I’m interested in seeing what they find out about Swedish universities.

Without further babbling. Here’s the list:

1   Karolinska Institute
2   Uppsala University
3   Stockholm University
4   Lund University
5-9   Chalmers Technical University
    Gothenburg University
    Royal Institute of Technology
    Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
    Umea Univ
10   Stockholm School of Economics
11   Linköping University




Quote of the Day

24 01 2007

“Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product … if we should judge America by that – counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitmans rifle and Specks knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

“Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.

Robert Francis Kennedy, Address, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, March 18, 1968