on: pistols, railroads and european imagination

Lawrence Lessig was invited to Berlin to discuss the ideas concerning his view on new technologies, accompanied by a comment from Peter Baldwin. The talk was organized by the bpb (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung) as part of a new series ‘Kontinentaldrift 3.0’ and announced under the title ‘Pistols and Railroads in the American West’ which loaded the

whole event with typical european prejudges or let’s say – imaginations of the far west – at a first glance more relating to some meanwhile classical images of the ‘west’ then a contemporary and appropriate view.
Constituting the conversion of the movement described above as european imaginary – now concerning modern digital culture with its starting point at the west coast and a comparison between the technologies inherent characteristics of power and simultaneously creating a new equality – the metapher of the title made some sense at least.
Lessig laid out his view of this situation in a very smooth and perfectly timed presentation: .. drawing an immediate line from some quotes of J. P. Sousa (composer of ‘unbelievable’ marches) regarding his fears of losing creativity and the ability to participate in cultural activities to ‘talking machines’ as a pure process of remixing about 100 years ago. In using his objections Lessig’s argument about the issue of using cultural parts like ‘building blocks’ became the constituting fact of ‘re’creation of cultural expressions regarded more or less as a natural habit during the analog period for the commodification of culture. In difference the major change for the digital era is that every use becomes a copy, a terminology orginally regulating the copyright issues concerning copies converts to be a restriction for attempts to deal with cultural substance. This fact creates an inappropriate relation regarding the contemporary usage of cultural expressions – as it has to be regarded under these aspects as generally owned and thus suddenly illegalizes or better tries to restrict creativity through ownership.
The argument was brillantly leading through the field. His commentator Peter Baldwin raised a few issues on single field protections of authorship and inappropriate incomes in the music business … but had no real issues to bring up against. In general the discussion did not really get into gears between the two of them – as the spotlight was too clearly set on Lessig and comparison between american and european aspects of handling the issue. It would have been an interesting point to direct it a bit more towards understandings of and impacts on democracy – which might have been a theme of both, as I just learned that Baldwin has recently published a book on the handling of aids in industralized nations: Disease and Democracy.
more on CC .. to follow

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