Intellectual Property in the context of Internet Protocol: Two IPs don’t always make a right.
It would seem that one of the great drawbacks of the Virtual Revolution is the fact that intellectual property doesn’t get on particularly well with the Internet’s (our) voracious appetite for forwarding, retweeting, downloading, paraphrasing, appropriating facts, figures, information. Ours is the copy/paste generation. Which raises the question: in this Age of Engagement, creative commons and citizen journalism, is intellectual property still an issue or not really relevant anymore? Well, maybe I’m going to sit on the fence here, but let’s see if we can unravel the ‘thread’ looking at both sides of the question.
Staunch defenders of intellectual property would point to the blatant copying of music and film as clear examples of the expropriation of others’ works and ideas. It goes without saying that underpinning all of this is a strong economic argument. Music companies and film producers stand to lose, and have lost, plenty of money at the expense of downloading freeloaders. However, regulation is tricky because depending on which side of the fence you’re on it can be criticized as being censorship. With the Internet there’s a strong sense of freedom of speech. After all, the Internet as we know it today is like a teenager that doesn’t like being told what to do and answers back. It’s in that ‘growing pains’ stage and is still coming to terms with who it is and what it wants to be when it becomes ‘grownup’ and ‘responsible’.
The other camp asserts that IP has a monopolising effect and stifles the sharing of information, creativity and ideas. They embrace the idea of sharing, passing on data, information and knowledge as one of the Net’s raisons de être. Yet, like everything else, many expect to get a return on their investment, whether it’s clicks or selling jingles, and the Internet is no exception. Their approach is more permissive, which doesn’t necessarily mean no regulation at all. A sort of code of conduct prevails whereby you identify your sources and respect people’s IP. In fact, the applications we use for sharing are ‘regulating’ this process themselves by including the ‘who’ and the ‘what’.
Anyway, this discussion/thread will carry on for a long time yet, so I’ll sign off here. Feel free to share it!
‘Know yourself’ is what was inscribed at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi way back in the year # b4 FB (before Facebook). But do I know who I really am? It’s something that’s had us guessing for a long, long time. Even more so in this Virtual Revolution, this Age of Engagement and Immediacy we’re currently living in. Nowadays, many of us have set up multiple virtual personalities and online identities. We surf the waves of these multiple identities, logging in and out of them at will. Are these facets of our ‘real’ personality? They surely must be.
Planet of the Apps.
In fact, going beyond personality traits, we use our avatars to replace everyday human behaviours and actions. Facebook when we relate to friends and relatives. Twitter for updates, greetings and giving news. Forums for getting answers to our questions and in turn providing answers to questions about something we’re keenly interested in i.e. hobbies. LinkedIn for developing and furthering our professional selves. Blogs for writing down our thoughts, feelings, opinions. At our fingertips we have access to terabytes of information and knowledge. The flip side is – could this help us in figuring out who we are? Well, it actually might. One theory would say that we hide in the Internet jungle to get away from our ‘real’ selves. Another would argue that our online selves are a more real expression of ourselves – it gives us the opportunity to be, well, us.
Encyclopedia of Us.
We’re creating an encyclopedia of us. We’re deconstructing ourselves, uploading the different parts/items of information to the Internet. What we believe, like, hate, relate to is there (here?). Our jobs, education, bank balances, taxes… Digression: electronic death certificates will mean the ‘nail in the coffin’ of our earthbound selves?
How soon will it be before in order to put together a life we’ll be ‘mashing’ online records, threads, cookies, timelines and profiles? How long before ‘humans b4 FB’ made of flesh and blood become ‘humans post-FB’ made of bytes of bits and pixels?
‘… and I’ll tell ya, things aren’t quite the same
When I’m rushing on my run…’
(Lou Reed, ‘Heroin’)
Panic mounts; an unsettling jolt hits the cortex when you get the no network message. How many times an hour… sorry, let me rephrase that: how many times a minute do you unholster and check for new mail, twitter notifications etc? How often do you find your attention drawn to whether that red light is flashing intermittently meaning you’ve got updates? If you’re a heavy user, the answer is most likely: yes.
We live in an age of information overload. Multiple answers to our incessant queries. Multiple realities engaged as we increasingly log out of our mundane existential life and log in to our online selves. We are legion. Look around you. Check out that unassuming army of app zombies, striding purposefully along their vectors like automatons, heads slightly bent forward, gazing intently at 4 square inches of light emitting diodes and 120g of plastic cupped in their steady hands.
Darwinian digression: our ancestors were primates, apes. One of the things that sets us apart from them is our highly developed power to reason. One thing we have in common is opposable thumbs, which allow us to grasp, grip, hold, handle and … fire off a tweet in under half a minute. I don’t know about you, but I’m using my thumbs now like there’s no tomorrow and getting ambidextrous into the bargain. And with the advent of touchscreen technology, those ‘ET phone home iPhone index fingers’ will get just about as nimble and responsive as a plastic surgeon’s.
We switch apps as if we were switching realities. We’re getting hooked on checking out our online alter ego(s). How long will it be before they take over from our ‘real’ ones? Before our online conversations, interactions, behaviours become more important, more fulfilling? If it hasn’t happened to some of you already . . .
Need to sign off – withdrawal symptoms starting to kick in, been offline too long. I’m gonna get my next fix – requesting . . . running script . . . loading . . . – man, that feels good!