Just Browsing: Rethinking Privacy, Piracy & Intellectual Property

This is video of a talk I gave at the first-annual WheaTalks event, a TED Talks-inspired night of bright ideas-in-progress.  In it, I make the case that individuals need and deserve a system of just browsing, that is, browsing that is fair and ethical, and that respects individual privacy.  Corporate rights holders continue to lobby for expansive intellectual property protections, restrict access and use of content, and devise new ways to monetize users’ personal information.  One aspect of these efforts is the tendency of content producers and distributors to conflate privacy with piracy.  As insidious as this is, it is also revealing insofar as it highlights the fact that as user data and personal information become increasingly profitable revenue streams, efforts to restrict companies’ access to that data and information become tantamount — in their minds at least — to a form of theft.   At the end of the talk, I propose a somewhat common-sense (read: impossibly utopian) solution to this stand-off.


How to Specify Start-time on Embedded YouTube Video

Adding a YouTube video to your WordPress is easy, and a great way to share videos with your readers.  Sometimes the goal isn’t just to share the video but to actually use part of it to illustrate a point or even to set up a point of your own.  In these situations, you want to make it easy for your reader to view find and view the portion of the video that made you want to include it in the first place.

Setting a specific start-time via YouTube is very simple and is an incredibly easy way to help ensure that your readers see the connections between the video and the rest of your post as clearly as you do.

Here’s how to go about it…


Captioning an image

The Neverwas Haul at Burning Man 2008. Courtesy of Flickr user Autowitch


When using an image, respect the rights holder!  Any visual element[1] – e.g., photograph, graphic, graph, table, or other image – that you did not produce yourself must include attribution to the rights holder.  Review the easy 3-step walk-through after the jump…


Exact Change Required?

Digital technologies are changing everything. There’s nothing terribly profound about such an observation at this point. By now, we all basically know this. Somehow, though, knowing this doesn’t make our experience of these changes any less profound.

As someone trained in the Humanities and committed to their enduring value, I am at once excited and intimidated by the transformations digital tools and technologies have catalyzed in my largely analog neck of the academic woods. My Digital Humanity aims to wring some semblance of order, meaning and purpose from those transformations, and to try to understand — and participate more actively in — the many ways in which everything I used to know and think about knowing and thinking is changing around me . . . everywhere and always.

Image from Matt Fincher's Coin Stacking

The key, for me at least, is to remember that so far as these matters are concerned, there ‘s no point worrying about “exact change” when no one knows the fare from one day to the next.  Besides, you can do some amazing things with change if you stop worrying about having exactly the right amount on hand.

eff YouTube

This condescending-but-terrifying “instructional indoctrination video” is probably the most upsetting thing I’ve seen yet in the increasingly bald-faced campaign to establish Copyright™  as the tertium quidof culture and technology, and to ensure that the sole function of each is to strengthen and consolidate the corporate control of information, communication and creation.

For forgetting what your site was all about and why it was so revolutionary, for reinventing yourself as Hulu-lite, for infantilizing users and for pandering to industry pressure… eff YouTube