Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace..."

...I borrowed that line from an email a friend sent me, who borrowed it from Jimi Hendrix. Now I'm using it online, to share with you. I admit, a little tame compared to Girl Talk, but hopefully you get the point.

The reason I chose this quote as my blog title was to demonstrate my interpretation(s) of the dynamics that seem to be going on regarding the whole issue of copyright, participatory culture, convergence, and collective intelligence. I can sum up the entire scenario like this:  The left is pushing against the right, and in the name of power, control, and money the right is pushing back...unless of course concession means more power, control, and/or money. But even then, the concession is only for their gain. I use the terms "left" and "right" (somewhat) loosely here. (I would have to do more research before I can talk more absolutely.)

The point is, one side is pushing against the other for political reasons. The side that wishes to open up the lines of communication, share ideas for a greater good, and participate in the world around them are being stifled by the side that wishes to maintain control. Jenkins uses the CNN/YouTube debate as an example. The simple fact that Mitt Romney refused to debate with a snowman, even though the snowman had a legitimate question, illustrates the higher ground on which these power players wish to be regarded. These "elite" types are much more comfortable controlling the conversation. They don't like the idea of participatory culture because incoming questions might make them uncomfortable or worse, make them look incompetent.

Unfortunate, for these power people, the internet is here to stay and it's only going to push the right further to the right and eventually off the playing field altogether. Well, maybe not altogether, but I do think the masses will be heard sooner than most may think. The world can only gain from sharing ideas and knowledge. Culture can only make itself relevant through innovation and creativity. Progress can only progress if it is allowed. A very small number of people hold the power, the control, and the money in this country. These are the same people who stand in protest against a culture of participation. They want to keep their power. They want to keep their control, and they most definitely want to keep their money.

It may seem I'm speaking only about politics proper. What I mean to convey is that politics are at play in every area that concerns power, control, and money. The owners of copyrights want to maintain the control of those copyrights to make as much money as possible. In this sense they hold the power. Participatory culture and collective intelligence would certainly dethrone patent holders if laws regarding certain types of patents were reversed, and convergence would keep a lot of corporate giants on their toes trying to keep up with the status quo. True, some companies have been successful in listening to their "fandom", but it was all in the name of making more money. Their attitude is, "If it'll make us more money we'll listen, if not we don't care what you have to say."

This tug-o-war won't end anytime soon. Meanwhile, the internet with all its channels of global communication will continue to grow. File sharing legally, and illegally, will continue to spread, and I don't think Girl Talk will go out without a fight. People have been borrowing, stealing, and manipulating ideas from the past since the beginning of time. Artists do it just as musicians do it just as politicians do it. The only difference now, the involved parties can share their creations online, and there inlys the problem.

Bottom line, the internet has and will continue to reshape culture and society. Those who keep up will succeed. Those who can't will fade away. Companies already see the necessity of listening to their customers. Politicians will acknowledge this truism soon enough. The remaining entity of Hollywood could be a different story. I think they will fight tooth and nail to the very end only to be slowly put out of business by the "amateur" film makers who collectively will prevail. At that point we will begin to see true democracy in least for a little while.


  1. I find it interesting that you connecting the issue of convergence culture to democracy, politics, and the left vs. right. They are definitely intertwined and I think it is probably possible at the extreme ends of the spectrum to connect left with grassroots and right with corporate power, what happens to the people trying to muddle their way through the in-between?

    I was going to suggest that perhaps top/bottom might be a better analogy of the power dynamics here, but even that seems insufficient. Which is a testament to the complexity of the issues at hand. So I guess the question I'm left with is, "what are the exploits in this morass of power struggle and how do we take advantage of them?"

  2. @Kim: Assuming the two opposing powers are grassroots and corporate, one exploit is lobbying, or rather, how large corporate interest groups are using their right to lobby government. Meeting with congressmen and women takes a lot of resources and money. Corporations and conglomerates have much more of both of these when compared to individuals or even citizen lobbyist groups (octagenarians excluded).

    Citizens have the right to vote, so this could be seen as a check on corporate power in an ideal situation, but in reality, voting is too infrequent, broad, unguided, and often based on misinformation or no information.

    Citizens are very good at consuming and being entertained. Maybe we can realign our interests with somethong more productive. A silly idea off the top of my head is a Fantasy Politics League similar to the football counterpart, Fantasy Football. Players of this game know every little detail of the players they follow, often bet money on outcomes, and get very excited when they win or lose. The game also serves as an effective platform for debate sometimes even philosophical discussions. If we could harness this kind of energy, corporations and the politicians they target might feel more pressure from the people they get their power from.

    So thats kind of crazy, but sometimes asymetrical exploits are like that. I guess we could just as well revolt and throw everyone out.

  3. Wow there is a lot going on in this post. I think the idea that the right will disappear is a bit extreme. I say this because the current political 'sides' haven't always been aligned the way they are now. The two parties ebb and flow into and out of each other, absorbing what they like from new parties and discarding what will hurt them. That's the real problem with the parties, they don't exist for the betterment of the people only for the deepening of the pockets of those at the head of the parties. I want a system that is party less and where candidates don't carry a bunch of political baggage but have sincere intentions.

  4. I'm with Sydnie on this one.

    The end. :)