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MiT5 2007

Media in Transition 5 conference at MIT, Boston, 27-29 April 2007

Video Collages and Educational Tagging

The next panel here at MiT5 is a smaller affair, and is started by Sam Smiley, presenting on Claude Shannon Remixed. She begins with a couple of video collages based on image searches on a narrow range of terms in Altavista (the video is also on YouTube). These videos use original music, but copyrighted images and videos, and Sam recently received a message through YouTube messaging from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation asking her to take down one of the videos - but without any specific information about what aspects of the collage are owned by CBC.

Produsing Culture: Implications of User-Led Content Creation

My colleague Jean Burgess is the first presenter this morning at MiT5 - we have an all-QUT panel going this morning. She begins with a nod towards Andrew Keen's recent book The Cult of the Amateur, which provides an argument not based on a deep understanding of Web2.0, but is mainly a response to the increasing hype around Web2.0 (providing a kind of hysterical anti-hype which in itself still adds to the hype, though). Jean's own work on vernacular photography provides a more intelligent, nuanced look at some of the Web2.0 phenomena.

Collaboration and Collective Intelligence (But Where's Pierre Lévy?)

We're now in the second plenary session at MiT5, which was opened by Tom Malone who began by introducing the concept of collective intelligence (and MIT is now starting a Center for Collective Intelligence). The first speaker is Trebor Scholz from the Institute for Distributed Creativity, and he notes that one of the key questions in participatory, collective environments is now that of labour - all the many activities performed by the users in such spaces can be described as a form of labour, but in the main such labour contributes particularly to the value of the spaces within which it takes place, not so much to the fortune of those performing that labour. This, Trebor says, is a further move towards the commercialisation of social life - the very few benefit from the work of the very many, in a classic capitalist move.

Defining Web2.0

The next session I'm attending has nothing less than the task of defining what exactly we mean by 'Web2.0'. Fred Benenson and Peter B. Kaufman are making a start with their Five Theses about Creative Production in the Digital Age, and Fred also notes the importance of free software as an enabler of the Web2.0 development. He sees YouTube as the key mediator of Web2.0 styles and ideas at present, and as a site which opens up further questions of copyright, creators' rights, and other related issues.

Defining Creative Labour

From the packed plenary theatre we have now moved on to the first of the smaller sessions (which is similarly full) - one of nine or ten parallel sessions (so please don't take these blog entries as entirely representative of MiT5 proper...). This session is on creative labour in a produsage environment, and Mirko Tobias Schäfer begins by "Revisiting the Case of Interactive Audiences and the User as Producer". He notes that in 1983 TIME nominated the (personal) computer as 'machine of the year' - an interesting precursor of the recent nomination of 'you' as person of the year 2006, which has perhaps redressed the balance again from technology to users.

Opening Media in Transition: Connections between Folk and Digital Cultures

Today we're starting the MiT5 conference here at MIT, and we begin with a welcome by Comparative Media Studies director Henry Jenkins. He begins with a nod to fan culture as a space of media mash-ups, and plays a short excerpt from the Colbert Report, which issued a challenge to remix its content and provided a segment ready-made for remixing. Inded, Henry suggests that Colbert as a comedian was inherently made by YouTube, and he has shown strong interest in remix culture in other environments (he also issued a challenge to his viewers to introduce falsifying edits into Wikipedia, furthering his playful engagement with participatory culture).


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