a viable pirate myth.

I've been watching several documentaries lately on the state of copyright, on remix culture, and on the comparative bargain between rights-holders (large corporations) and the people. The problem isn't that they are focusing on piracy, because piracy is a big issue. The problem is that piracy has been subverted to only mean 'downloading copyrighted material from the internet', or more specifically, music or film content, with a notable amount of software, and some print content thrown in for flavouring.

When I talk to people about my opinions on copyright, I first and foremost raise the idea of the developing nations licensing, (creative commons style) and why it makes more sense than universal price structures, universal copyrights, and unilateral laws. Developing nations don't have money. They have economies, and funds, and purchasing power, but they don't have money on a western scale.

Copyright is about money, primarily.

This is evident in the idea of region coding, for game systems, dvds, etc. A global price structure is an impossiblity, because it would either kill profit in the west, or eliminate the market in the global south, and Asia. So, DVDs and movies come out in formats that only work on hardware sold in certain parts of the world. Otherwise, everyone would buy legal versions for the cheapest region.

A developing nations license is more or less the same idea, but taken to extremes. Copyright is waived in countries which would not create a viable market for it. Content, ideas, patents are used for the benefit of the people who need them, rather than locked down. The net profit for the creator / owner is nothing either way, but in one instance, people are helped.

The best application for this idea is medication, specifically AIDS drugs.

However, there's no pressure on this. The entertainment content industries are forced to at least TRY to reckon with the reality of their situation, because more people are downloading content than shaking in fear of an impending RIAA lawsuit.

There's no one pirating patented AIDS drugs in a series of mobile African factories, and distributing them to the people. And the free culture / anti-copyright movement has a lot of people who constantly try to emanate that kind of cultural responsibility, that kind of IMPORT in what they do. The undercurrent is always that, somehow, by downloading a record instead of paying EMI, they are fighting for a better future.

We've got the kids signing up with Amnesty International and the Peace Corps, and we've got the millionaires throwing money around in an attempt to make the world a better place.

If I had to pick a place to start, I'd ask Bono and Gates to fund an illegal, patent-ignoring lab on an offshore oil rig, where we would make lab-grade medicine for the people who need it, can't afford it, and will die without it. THIS is the kind of piracy that is only wrong according to the law, and is, or should be, a natural human right.

Instead we're downloading Spiderman 3 and getting confused when people don't treat us with the proper revolutionary regard.

no dead time.

Something I've been hearing since the first time I saw a mobile phone: 'yeah, but now they can find me wherever I am.'

This is usually an argument that is made by a professional, and usually about his inability to find time off work. The same argument is applied to smartphones, and blackberries, that they turn email from an office responsibility to something that is supposed to be handled in downtime, and therefore treated as an annoyance. The 'no dead time' thing is a problem for people who have high stress jobs, because it reclassifies all time as work time.

But, despite my best efforts, I am unemployed at the moment. And I've realised that having no dead time is a completely different beast for me, and probably always will be. Having no dead time for me, means that I have no time that cannot be filled with some kind of activity, rather than having all time not dedicated to a specific task pre-set for work.

My search for work is currently my job. I put near-full-time hours into it, whether it be looking for listings, editing and re-editing my resume and cover letters, or talking to people in the hope of finding a good lead, or getting good advice. However, time such as yesterday, when I waited in a walk in clinic (for an eventual strep throat diagnosis) necessarily results in dead time. When I'm not actually able to accomplish anything of value, I make a point of never completely 'wasting time'.

No dead time means that waiting to get into a doctor's office is the correct time to watch episodes of Dexter on my iPod. No dead time means that waiting for an email is the right time to re-watch the League of Noble Peers' 'Steal This Film', in case any of the references convinces me to think of something else.

No dead time means that entertainment is no longer something that has to be scheduled either. The reality of it is, the only reason business people complain about only the other side of it is that it has yet to occur to them that the blackberry goes both ways. Technology only chains you to work when work is the only thing you know how to do with technology.

Cue the 'I'm a PC' Guy.



Horrible illness is winding down. Content to follow.

Fully aware that half of my posts are explanations for the lack of posts. Am working on this, as well.

Many things bubbling beneath the surface.


burst / pack culture.

Burst Culture is Pack Culture. Pack Culture is Burst Culture.

Let me back up a bit.

Warren Ellis (Internet Jesus, Genius Comic Author, thank fucking god he's got a novel coming out in a month) wrote a little missive on 'Burst Culture', what it does, and what it's good for. Burst culture is twitter, it's fast fiction, it's aligned with out current reality, which is to say, it's designed for value with minimal instance-based interaction time. Burst culture gives people something they think is of use, without crossing the ever narrowing threshold of not-worth-my-time. Burst culture is, in short, the way to think when building ideas for the internet, at least the current version of web2.0 social networking insert buzzword here internet that I have trouble thinking outside of.

Pack culture, as I've been rambling for about a week, is in many ways something obsolete that the internet makes viable again. You can see it in 'My Five' cellphone plans, and you can see it in the Facebook option to hear more news about certain people. To anyone still on livejournal, it's the best example I can think of. Pack culture today is about integrating information on the lives of select people into yours in such a way as to know them without it seemingly requiring effort. Pack culture is why conversations I have with friends who live in other cities inevitably have the sentence 'yeah, i read that on your blog' repeated ad-nauseum. Pack culture is a small version of crowd sourcing. Ideas are sent en masse to a select few, and using the information they help you to synthesise concepts into theory. As opposed to having people all over the world interact with smaller units of information and suggest direction, you have a small group getting to know the entire framework, and then becoming integral in it's expansion.

Pack culture is about marking out your tribe, your collective, and them understanding that people who know you that well are often the only ones worth collaborating with.

Burst culture is tiny blasts of information, and Pack culture is the collection of those blasts, imperceptibly and without irritation, into a comprehensive understanding of another person, or group of people. So you can help them think, tear them apart, etc.

And the only reason I'm considering this something different than friendship is that it operates without a time bias, space bias, or even a particular affinity for the person. It's just a mixture of interest in their ideas, access to their bursts, and desire to benefit from mutual innovation.


i love the creative commons, part ten thousand.

Recently, thanks to the wonder that is boingboing, I downloaded 'Good Copy, Bad Copy', a documentary about the realities of copyright in our modern world, that makes you from the US, to Sweden, Nigeria, Brazil, and many other places besides, pointing out the real world justification for the idea that 'remix' culture is valid, creative, and on the verge of either being legislated out of existence, or of reaching such a powerful cultural status that it doesn't matter what the law says.

People who show up include Lawrence Lessig, Girl Talk, Danger Mouse, the dudes from The Pirate Bay, the creator of the Pirate (political) Party, MPAA representatives, and more.

It was enjoyable to spend an hour or so looking at a concrete reminder that there is an infinite room for creation, should we as a society decide to allow creating to be more important than hoarding all aspects of past creations.

Legislate for the future, not for those stuck in the past.

You can download Good Copy, Bad Copy here


one more rant on privacy.

These are showerthoughts (ideas that occur randomly while showering) so I ask that you bear with me.

I've written in the past about the generation gap, and it's relation to privacy and technology use, and I stumbled onto an explanation so simple that I am almost certain I've just forgotten that I read it somewhere else. Privacy, for the older generation is a matter of permission. The issue isn't whether or not information is available, it's a matter of being able to set your own terms for the amount of people, and the specific people, who know that information. Privacy, in this traditional definition, is a matter of having a life that is only open to those with your approval.

Privacy as it seems to be desired no operates on an opposite basis. Instead of information being given only to a select few 'cleared' entities, information is made readily available, for everyone to see. What privacy means in this paradigm is instead the ability to secure the information from a select few, whether it be family, certain friends, a boss, etc. This inversion makes sense on the grounds that privacy is (barring extreme situations such as stalking) only really important in relation to people you interact with. While my grandparents may not have wanted anyone else to know their business, the list of people who would actually care about the average private citizen's business is miniscule, usually less than 100 people, and a large number of corporations. Functionally, a desire for privacy is really just a desire to keep certain facts about your life away from certain people who are also in it, and away from corporate and governmental entities that will misuse that information.

The generation I'm living in seems, more or less, to have decided that a blocking approach works better. A permission system is great, if you only want a very select group to interact with your experiences and ideas. This is an example of pack level thinking, which I've been rambling about lately. However, a permission system is also the antithesis of the internet age. Closed information is dead, and can't be repurposed, reinterpreted, and reborn into something useful. Many people get excited about the idea of telling everyone they know what countries they have visited, movies they have seen, etc, as demonstrated in the latest round of facebook applications and invitations to install them I have been getting. There's value in the idea that anyone in the world can read your writing, or see your pictures or drawings. There's even more value in the details of your life being available to everyone BUT your boss, your mother, the government.

This is obviously confusing for people who grew up keeping things private in the old sense. At the same time, going back to the old approach looks from here like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.


pack humanity (2)

I'm wondering why social networks now are constantly trying to promote the idea of mass friend accumulation, a la facebook, myspace, etc. Not that that I don't understand the potential for associations as a social currency (I went to high school, after all) but that they seem so perfectly designed for smaller groups, whether it be a social circle, or a creative collective. So that's what I've been thinking about lately, the role that software and social networking can play in relation to creative work in groups.

The core of the idea is that working creatively with other is unavoidably personal, and usually gets better the more personal it is. When I write with / for someone I know well, I can tailor my work to what I now they will like, can get behind, etc. More importantly than that, I know what not to write. I know what I can just leave empty, because the interpretation of the other party overcomes some failing in either my skills or my understanding. Similarly, friends know when it's a good idea to override my work, and when I'll flip out over the order of temporally irrelevant sentences.

This is, to me, a method of creating value in social networking (because, honestly, value is needed). The internet has been fostering this for years, and one of the best examples of creative collective endeavours is the Webcomic subculture. I can think of at least a few fairly successful partnerships that began and grew before the principals ever met in person. The kind of personal understanding that aids the development of creative works in a small group is facilitated greatly by the internet - it's cheaper than long distance phone calls, it supplements memory, and relationships can be maintained without a time or space bias, and often without effort. There are many people I know well, mostly though web-based media, regardless of how often I see them face to face. This in no way makes me less able to read them in real life, but it does mean that I can maintain relationships with long silences.

Creative collectives can exist, and do, without any intimacy between the stakeholders. At the same time, a focused experience where you, somewhat passively, learn about those you work with, not just in a work setting, but in life altogether, has clear benefits. Making it easy is as simple as repurposing currently available tools; when the Ontario government banned facebook from it's offices, they not only cut themselves off from a means of contacting voters, they re-instituted the distance between people working in offices. Learning about co-workers is not simple or pleasant. Doing it unthinkingly, using a tool like facebook, is a clear solution.

I'm scribbling out ideas on how to create a social networking suite aimed not at individuals, but at members of creative collectives, with an eye to working within that social structure, reinforcing it, while still increasing knowledge and understanding about the actual (non-corporate) personalities around you. Right now I'm beating my head against the wall figuring out the mechanics of profiles being built over time, the possibility of recommendation of compatible collectives with needed skill sets, and different administrative systems (long story, but the difference between the Smashing Pumpkins and a freestyle Jazz ensemble has to be taken into account).

We were tribe people long before we were anything else. Logically there should be value to exploit there.



As of today, as of this post, I am a Mac Panther. That is right, I have finally abandoned the microsoft universe and am now the proud (absurdly proud) owner of a macbook.

What does this mean to the readers of BrokenGentleman.com? Very, very little. But it does mean the beginning of mobile posting, and of more frequent updates. Oh, and of slightly more justification for my apple love.

Thought of the day is the lack of activity in the front of the poster as a narrative medium. I mean, Chris Ware does it, and I have a great Ray Fawkes print sitting on my desk, still awaiting framing, but why is there so little mixture of cartooning techniques with the idea of displaying it as an addition to a room?

More of this later, right now I have to back up 40 gigs of music, carefully and legally purchased over the years.


i'm calling it now.

I was reading the most recent Wired in bed this morning, and the article on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault got me thinking.

I am officially calling a Sci-Fi product of some kind in the not-so-far future, based on a group of survivors in a post apocalyptic wasteland, fighting to make it to the Seed Vault, not for themselves, but for the agricultural future of the planet, and humanity itself.

This really does hit a lot of current hot points, giving the viewer adventure, a pro-green message, as well as a nice pat on the back for humanity, well, Norwegian humanity, for thinking about the children of the future.

The truly sad thing, is that I now have a strong desire to write this movie. Svalbard: The Search for the Last Seeds.

things to address.

1) I know I haven't been posting lately, but I have my reasons, including a move, finishing undergrad, looking for work, a fairly involved renovation, and a quarter life crisis.

2) I haven't actually addressed all of the above yet, but I recognise that at least a little consistency in my life will probably be a good thing.

So, I'm going to be aiming for at least three posts a week, for the forseeable future. I can't expect people to read if I post every ten days (which seems to be the current trend) and I can't exercise my writing muscles if I don't write something at least every other day.

This was a fairly meaningless PSA. Also, any leads for work that would suit someone with my interests would be greatly appreciated. Yes, I have finally reached the brand new low of asking for work on my meager blog.

More Soon.

thinking in fiction.

I was talking to a friend a while ago about the concept of human civilisation as a virus, of sorts, leading us on a destructive path, leading us to oblivion. He responded by asking how a civilisation could mature in any other way, while still becoming a credible threat (i.e., enough of a threat that another civilisation would introduce said virus). All I could come up with is that there could have been a positive effect on human social convention, or on our understanding of the world we occupy, etc, before we reached the point of changing the world to our needs, rather than bending to it. Of course, this got me imagining the effects of another million years of humans living in a hunter-gatherer mode, or the comparative benefits of a pack society.

As such, I've been toying with the idea of pack humanity as experienced through the current media paradigm; would people travel only in groups? Would packs live in an enmeshed world of pack-only blog posts, twitter updates, photosets, social networks and unlimited calling plans? Packs would undoubtedly grow, and how would the necessary division of unwieldy groups into sub-units play out? Part of me can't help but run to a primal idea of physical combat, but I can also see customs evolving until leadership is dealt with by non-violent mental and physical tasks. I'd even consider in-pack elections or genetic, mental and physical testing on an individual level as a credible option. How would politics work, would each pack align itself with a meta-pack? Or would everything operate on the basis of personal ownership, where packs tend to all of their own needs, bartering with other small groups for essentials?

This is obviously an interesting concept, but lately it has me thinking about the pack mentality that has entered my own social happenings. The people I am friends with in real life are the ones I interact with most through technological means. Blogging, in general, operates on the same basis; most blogs aren't written for the entire world to read, they are intended for a specific pack, whether it be family, friends, or even just one specific social subgroup. This is actually a large part of why I haven't deleted my livejournal account; the friend's page design is more than just a proto-rss concept, it's digital pack mentality put into practice. The vast majority of people who read anything I post on livejournal do so after aligning themselves with me publicly, as a friend.

While these concepts have been introduced to facebook, I think it facebook itself functions on more of an observation level. People read where I went to school, my status, my likes and dislikes, and look at pictures of me. I rarely get messages, and wall posts, though pleasant, are far from engrossing as a form of contact. This is the level I imagine twitter works on (though I have yet to sign up), a small list of updates which, even collectively, give little to no information about the actual characteristics of the user.

I'd argue that this is because it isn't directed at a pack, it's directed at the long chain of acquaintances that I'm happy to indicate I know, but not necessarily particularly interested in the day-to-day lives of.