"Technological change is not additive; it's ecological. A new technology does not merely add something; it changes everything." -- Neil Postman
A few weeks ago, one of the Powerful Learning Practice communities members from Western New York shared this Ted Talks piece by Lessig.
The highlights of the clip are below:
Read/write culture allows us to engage with culture and the consumer becomes a creator.
Lessig tells a story- One from the 1940s when airplanes (the new technology) were becoming mainstream modes of transportation. Land is a property- protected by law. Blackstone's legal definition of land included all that was below and above the land and it was protected by trespass law. Aircraft were first accused of trespassing in 1945- a couple farmers had complained that their chickens mimicked the pattern of the airplanes and flew into barns when planes flew over. They challenged the 100 year decision and charged the airlines with trespassing.
The judges decided that the idea of protecting ownership of land all the way to the sky had no place in modern world- otherwise every transcontinental flight would be breaking laws with every flight. Common sense ruled.
Before the Internet, broadcasting was the new way to spread content. ASCAP reacted by charging broadcasters huge fees to play artist's music on the radio, so much so that BMI couldn't pay. The creative response of BMI was to play user generated content- music, much of it new music by blacks, was played instead of the top hits of the day. People didn't care, the open access to music without having to purchase it changed the face of the recording industry all together.
Digital technologies provide the opportunity for the revival of user generate content, where users produce content for the love of what they are doing and not the love of money. This is at the heart of the culture of what our kids are producing all the time.
Remixing, according to Lessig, is taking pieces of culture that exist and changing them to be something very different. This is not piracy- where you steal and wholesale someone else's work for a profit without permission, rather this is taking sounds and images from culture around us and combining them in new ways to say something differently. Anyone with access to a computer can use tools of creativity as tool of communication. This remixing is a new literacy, it is how our kids speak/think -- it is how they are.
The architecture of copyright law has deemed that every use of culture is trespassing unless you have permission. Kids see the laws as ridiculous and much like Blackstone's rule about property as having no place in the modern world.
Technology has Made Them Different
My favorite part of the clip is in the last few minutes where Lessig says that we have to recognize children today are different than we were. We recorded tapes- they make music. We watched TV -they make TV. Technology has made them different. You can't kill the instinct the technology produces, you can only criminalize it. We cant make our kids passive again, we can only make them into pirates. We are forcing our kids to live life against the law. They know what they are doing is breaking the law and that realization is corrupting. We need to do better- we need to use common sense and realize that many of these laws have no place in the modern world, otherwise we are simply making criminals of our children.
Meet Noah, my son. He is today's learner. Here it is New Year's eve and I walk into his bedroom. He is learning and creating. Not for a class, not for work, not for profit, rather just for the love of what he is doing.
He is listening to music being streamed from online via a wireless headset, he is reading a programming book, he is emailing on one screen and programming on another. What is he learning? How to create a simple game. Why? He says, "Because I want to."
Here is the basic game he is learning to create. http://21stcenturylearning.wikispaces.com/video
Steal this Film I and II
Last night Noah and I watched "Steal this Film" and "Steal this Film Part II". The US Media went after Pirate Bay (a bit torrent file sharing site in Sweden) where it was breaking no Swedish laws by providing downloads of files, often copyrighted movies and music. The kids responded with two provocative movies of their own outlining their case. Part two was better in my opinion, it is the sequel focusing on The Pirate Bay, and the copyfighters Piratbyran. It covers the history of technology and politics of media distribution to the masses in a succinct, understandable form. From Eben Moglen to Howard Rheingold and to kids in the streets who simply state they've never bought a CD in their lives, it's a high quality production that questions the very basic premise of the human cultural need to communicate and share. As the introduction states, "This is not a film about piracy".
These are must see pieces and should be part of every high school curriculum. Robin Good covers the pieces here as well and even offers his own remix.
Interestingly, today CNN reported that the movie industry earned a $9.7 billion dollar profit in 2007, the highest ever earning year for the motion picture industry. Now how is it that downloading files is taking money out of the film industry's pocket's again? Help me understand.