FreeCulture25

#1.  The Constitution states that copyright terms should be ‘limited.’ Discuss the books view on what is happening to the term ‘limited’?…

    A:  Since 1923 large companies have been lobbying with Congress to extend their copyright terms…We see several examples of Congress stretching their power to protect the big companies’ interest throughout the book..An example is Mr. Eldred’s fight to be allowed to use Robert Frost’s writings in his free library…The major problem here is, If companies (Goliaths)are paying the big $’s to extend rights, then in return  Congress has been granting the extensions ….unconstitutional or just downright greed, which could hamper cultural development.

#2.  How would people benefit from a registration requirement?…Something that Lessig mentions..

    A: Filmmakers more specifically could benefit the most.  We saw an example from the book where one filmmaker, Else, who had to clear several creative works before his use of them in his Documentary on Clint Eastwood…It to the filmmaker 12 months to do this….Utilizing a registration requirement would be most cost & time efficient for all filmmakers, small or large..No small filmmaker can afford to take 12 months to clear footage.  This registration requirement could open the door for many / potential filmmakers to create works more timely.  It would allow for greater cultural development because a filmmaker could concentrate more on developing documentary / movies then running around to make sure they have covered all copyrighted material.

#3.  What was author/writer David Pogue’s view on the Internet and what is Lessing’s reaction to it?   

    A:  Unlike actual law, Internet software has no capacity to punish. It doesn’t affect people who aren’t online (and only a tiny minority of the world population is). And if you don’t like the Internet’s system, you can always flip off the modem….Lessing’s reaction; ” Pogue might have been right in 1999—I’m skeptical, but maybe. But even if he was right then, the point is not right now: Free Culture is about the troubles the Internet causes even after the modem is turned off. It is an argument about how the battles that now rage regarding life on-line have fundamentally affected “people who aren’t online.” There is no switch that will insulate us from the Internet’s effect”.

#4.  Describe briefly what Lessig’s main theory of his book, that our tradition is on built on Free…not as in free beer, but free as in free speech, free elections, free trade, free markets, etc….really means, what is he afraid of?

    A:  Lessig argument in Free Culture,  is not just on the concentration of power produced by concentrations in ownership, but more importantly, if because less visibly, on the concentration of power produced by a radical change in the effective scope of the law. The law is changing; that change is altering the way our culture gets made; that change should worry you—whether or not you care about the Internet, and whether you’re on left or on the right.

#5.  Who inspired Lessig to write this book, and how does Lessig describe his use of this inspiration?

    A:   Lessig’s inspiration comes from the work of Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation. Lessing does realize that all of the theoretical insights he developed in the book are insights Stallman described decades ago. Lessig then states, “One could thus well argue that this work is “merely” derivative”.

Lessing accepts that criticism, if indeed it is a criticism. He goes on to state, “The work of a lawyer is always derivative, and I mean to do nothing more in this book than to remind a culture about a tradition that has always been its own. Like Stallman, I defend that tradition on the basis of values. Like Stallman, I believe those are the values of freedom. And like Stallman, I believe those are values of our past that will need to be defended in our future. A free culture has been our past, but it will only be our future if we change the path we are on right now”.

 #6.  What is the importance of Chapter 4 to the book?

    A:  Chapter 4 states that if piracy means using the creative property of others without their permission—if “if value, then right” is true—then the history of the content industry is a history of piracy.  Lessing states that our “big media”, Film, Radio, Cable and Records.  Lessig goes on to describe how Film, Radio, Cable and Records were formed form a kind of piracy…the importance is how our culture has developed in the past and how now the law is stifling its grow.

#7.  Talk about what happened in the Fall of 2002…the Jesse Jordan story. What was Lessing’s take/

    A:  Jesse Jordan was a freshman at PolyTech and started tinkering with a search engine that was readily available to him.  Jesse’s “tinkering” landed him a lawsuit which gave him a “mafia-like choice”…$250,000 and a chance at winning, or $12,000 and a settlement.  Jesse eventually settled with his life savings, the $12,000.  Lessig’s take; Let’s put the law aside for a moment and think about the morality. Where is the morality in a lawsuit like this? What is the virtue in scapegoatism? The RIAA is an extraordinarily powerful lobby. The president of the RIAA is reported to make more than $1 million a year. Artists, on the other hand, are not well paid. The average recording artist makes $45,900. [2] There are plenty of ways for the RIAA to affect and direct policy. So where is the morality in taking money from a student for running a search engine?

#8.  What is the Statue of Annes, when was it established?

    A:   The Statute of Anne was an act that stated, that all published works would get a copyright term of fourteen years, renewable once if the author was alive, and that all works already published by 1710 would get a single term of twenty-one additional years.

#9.  Building off question #7, what is its significance to Romeo & Juliet, English copyright law?

    A:  In 1774, almost 180 years after Romeo and Juliet was written, the “copy-right” for the work was still thought by many to be the exclusive right of a single London publisher, Jacob Tonson. [1] Tonson was the most prominent of a small group of publishers called the Conger [2] who controlled bookselling…The Conger claimed a perpetual right to control the “copy” of books that they had acquired from authors. That perpetual right meant that no one else could publish copies of a book to which they held the copyright.  The significance of this is , Under this Statute, Romeo and Juliet should have been free in 1731. So why was there any issue about it still being under Tonson’s control in 1774?

The reason is that the English hadn’t yet agreed on what a copyright was. At the time the English passed the Statute of Anne, there was no other legislation governing copyrights. The last law regulating publishers, the Licensing Act of 1662, had expired in 1695. That law gave publishers a monopoly over publishing, as a way to make it easier for the Crown to control what was published. But after it expired, there was no positive law that said that the publishers had an exclusive right to print books.

#10.  What large issue was Britain’s Parliament faced with in 1710?

    A:  The issue was how best to limit the monopoly power of publishers. 

#11.  What was the Parliament’s strategy?

    A:   The strategy was to offer a term for existing works that was long enough to buy peace in 1710, but short enough to assure that culture would pass into competition within a reasonable period of time. Within twenty-one years, Parliament believed, Britain would mature from the controlled culture that the Crown coveted to the free culture that we inherited.

#12.  During the Donaldson vs. Beckett case, what was the decision of the Parliaments, “law of lords”?

    A:  By a two-to-one majority (22 to 11) they voted to reject the idea of perpetual copyrights. Whatever one understands of the common law, now a copyright was fixed for a limited time, after which the work protected by copyright passed into the public domain.

#13.  When was the term “public domain” established, what did it mean for the great works of the time?

    A:  It was established in 1774 and for the first time in Anglo- American history, the legal control over creative works expired, and the greatest works in English history— including those of Shakespeare, Bacon, Milton, Johnson, and Bunyan—were free of legal restraint.

#14.  In Chapter 8, Transformers. Lessing mentions Camp Chaos, what is it and what is his solution to it?

    A:  Camp Chaos is a site in Sweden that takes images of politicians and blends them with music to create “biting’ political commentary.  These works are technically illegal…Lessig’s solution is this, “Let’s alter the mix of rights so that people are free to build upon our culture. Free to add or mix as they see fit”.  Lessing goes on the state that we could even make this change without necessarily requiring that the “free” use be free as in “free beer.” Instead, the system could simply make it easy for follow-on creators to compensate artists without requiring an army of lawyers to come along: a rule, for example, that says “the royalty owed the copyright owner of an unregistered work for the derivative reuse of his work will be a flat 1 percent of net revenues, to be held in escrow for the copyright owner.” Under this rule, the copyright owner could benefit from some royalty, but he would not have the benefit of a full property right (meaning the right to name his own price) unless he registers the work.

#15.  What is film-sampling and what actor was defined by this?

    A:  Film Sampling is an exciting way to put an original spin on existing films and allow audiences to see old movies in a new light.  The actor that this relates to is Mike Myers.

#16.  What important develop took place in San Francisco in April of 1996?

    A:  In April 1996, “the Way Back Machine” created millions of “bots”—computer codes designed to “spider,” or automatically search the Internet and copy content. Page by page, these bots copied Internet-based information onto a small set of computers located in a basement in San Francisco’s Presidio. Once the bots finished the whole of the Internet, they started again. Over and over again, once every two months, these bits of code took copies of the Internet and stored them.  Thus the creation of the Internet Archive, in which,  you could enter a Web page, and see all of its copies going back to 1996, as well as when those pages changed.

#17.  Who is the founder of the Internet Archive and what is the motive behind the idea?

    A:  Brewster Kahle is the founder of the Internet Archive which would be a place to access past television and film events.  He wanted to more importantly establish a place where he could archive human knowledge.   Kahle wants to enable free access to this content, but he also wants to enable others to sell access to it. His aim is to ensure competition in access to this important part of our culture.

#18.  Who is Jack Valenti and what is his influence on American Culture?

    A:  Jack Valenti has been the president of the Motion Picture Association of America since 1966.  In his almost forty years of running the MPAA, Valenti has established himself as perhaps the most prominent and effective lobbyist in Washington.  The organization represents not only filmmakers but producers and distributors of entertainment for television, video, and cable.  In defending artistic liberty and the freedom of speech that our culture depends upon, Jack and the MPAA has done important good. In crafting the MPAA rating system, it has probably avoided a great deal of speech-regulating harm. But there is an aspect to the organization’s mission that is both the most radical and the most important. This is the organization’s effort, epitomized in Valenti’s every act, to redefine the meaning of “creative property.”

#19.  In 1982, what was Jack Valenti’s testimony to Congress about?

    A:  “Creative property owners must be accorded the same rights and protections resident in all other property owners in the nation.” There are no second-class citizens.

#20.  What is stated in our Constitution in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8?

    A:  “Congress has the power to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

#21.  From what we now know from question 19, what has happened since 1962 , then in ’72 until the present? 

    A:  Congress started a practice that has defined copyright law since….Eleven times in the last forty years, Congress has extended the terms of existing copyrights; twice in those forty years, Congress extended the term of future copyrights…and in 1976 Congress extended all existing copyrights by another nineteen years…. from there, all works created after 1978, there was only one copyright term—the maximum term….Then, in 1992, Congress abandoned the renewal requirement for all works created before 1978… All works still under copyright would be accorded the maximum term then available, that term was ninety-five years.

#22.  Looking at questions 19 & 20 what does the book say has happened?

    A:   “The law created an astonishing power within a free culture—at least, it’s astonishing when you understand that the law applies not just to the commercial publisher but to anyone with a computer”.  It is unclear whether it is even possible to put works into the public domain. The public domain is orphaned by these changes in copyright law. Despite the requirement that terms be “limited,” we have no evidence that anything will limit them.

#23.  Explain the famous story between the Marx and Warner Brothers?

    A:  The Marx’s intended to make a parody of Casablanca. Warner Brothers objected. They wrote a nasty letter to the Marx’s, warning them that there would be serious legal consequences if they went forward with their plan. This led the Marx Brothers to respond in kind. They warned Warner Brothers that the Marx Brothers “were brothers long before you were.” The Marx Brothers therefore owned the word brothers, and if Warner Brothers insisted on trying to control Casablanca, then the Marx Brothers would insist on control over /brothers. But ultimately they both knew that no court would ever enforce such a silly claim.

#24.  What is Chimera and how does the author intertwine its meaning to the book?

    A:  Chimera is a single creature with two sets of DNA.  The relation to the book is revealed through the copyright wars…Lessing’s example is P2P sharing.   One side says, “File sharing is just like two kids taping each others’ records…while the other side says “File sharing is just like walking into a Tower Records and taking a CD off the shelf and walking out with it. 

#25.  What is your favorite analogy/example Lessig tells?

    A: My favorite would have to be this; So here’s the picture: You’re standing at the side of the road. Your car is on fire. You are angry and upset because in part you helped start the fire. Now you don’t know how to put it out. Next to you is a bucket, filled with gasoline. Obviously, gasoline won’t put the fire out.  As you ponder the mess, someone else comes along. In a panic, she grabs the bucket. Before you have a chance to tell her to stop—or before she understands just why she should stop—the bucket is in the air. The gasoline is about to hit the blazing car. And the fire that gasoline will ignite is about to ignite everything around.  A war about copyright rages all around—and we’re all focusing on the wrong thing. No doubt, current technologies threaten existing businesses. No doubt they may threaten artists. But technologies change. The industry and technologists have plenty of ways to use technology to protect themselves against the current threats of the Internet. This is a fire that if let alone would burn itself out.

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FreeCulture

Free culture is a social movement that promotes the freedom to distribute and modify creative works in the form of free content by using the Internet and other forms of media. (Wikipedia)  Lawrence Lessing (author) describes free culture as a balance between anarchy and control.  A free culture, like a free market, is filled with property.  It is filled with rules of property and contract that get enforced by state.  But just as a free market is perverted if its property becomes feudal, so too can a free culture be queered by extremism in the property rights that define it. (xvi preface)

In the book, Free Culture, author Lawrence Lessig analyzes the tension between the concepts of piracy and property in the area of “creative” works.  Lessig connects the effect the Internet has on how culture is made and how the Internet has induced an important and unrecognized change.  Since the advancement of the Internet, giving people the ability to find, listen and share content, the Goliaths have pushed the law to respond…The response from law is “destroying our culture.”

Given this sense of tension that the book illustrates between “piracy” and “property” coupled with the changes occurring to individuals reach through the Internet, we can capture a sense of this “change” by distinguishing between commercial and noncommercial creativity, and by mapping the law’s regulation on each.  The books definition of commercial creativity is what creative property that is produced and sold or produced to be sold.  The noncommercial creativity is defined as virtually everything else.  The “everything else” is all material witnessed and heard in a public scene.  The analogy is this; for commercial creativity think of the authors publishing their books, i.e., John Grisham and for noncommercial think of walking through a park and seeing elderly men telling stories to the wide-eyed kids. 

We gather from the book that since the beginning of time the noncommercial creativity has been unregulated.  And the law’s focus was just on the commercial creativity.  So for the longest time we had a balanced culture.  But, as the Internet has spread, so too has the content it displays.  This has caused the Goliaths to call on the law to protect them from any “pirates”.  Internet users are compromised of millions of people who use the Net to share and create content.  But, the Goliath’s and the law fight to control and intimidate the users by trying to associate most of them with this pirate label.  A side note; (there are users out there that deserve the label, pirate, and should be prosecuted for their works).  So, to the books argument, the law has partnered with the Goliaths.  Now the law seems to have a broad reach that outweighs any original benefit.  Thus, Lessig says, “we are seeing the governments’ role is less and less in support of creativity and more and more to protect certain industries against competition.  An example that supports this is the story of Jesse Jordan.  Jesse was a student who put together all he knew from schooling and personal experience to come up with a search engine for his school.  His idea was derived from previous and current works….he just adjusted their imperfections and made a more efficient search engine.  His idea ended up costing him his savings and a black label…as a pirate; because a Goliath said it resemble their work too closely.  This happened because a Goliath became threatened.  This Goliath used its power, both dollars and political, to crush their David, opponent.   This is an example that Lessig calls, a stagnation in the development of our culture.  Lessing states, that past generation welcomed “pirates” and this one does not.  Our past pirates included the greats like Walt Disney.  His most famous character, Mickey Mouse, was a character derived from a very similar character of its time…Also Walt Disney reshaped the Brothers Grimm tales into his own versions.  All acceptable back in his day, but when we see a student (Jesse Jordan) reshapes, what he believed to be an inefficient search engine, into his own work he becomes an outcast.   

So, the law and the Goliaths are trying to burn-in this pirate label into anyone who comes close to using a creative work and not asking permission before using it.  But, if we look back at our culture’s history we can find great developments in culture that are attached to pirates.  The book looked at some strong influences in our culture like, Film, Cable and Radio.  All of these influences have a kind of piracy form to them.  Film, was expanded and reshaped by individuals who fled the East Coast to escape the monopoly Thomas Edison formed.  So, the film realm had individuals who wanted to be free to use any instruments, ideas and language to create their films without having to succumb to a Goliath.  Cable was first spread by cable entrepreneurs who wired together communities and displayed broadcasters’ content to thousands of television within these communities.  The broadcaster fought the cable entrepreneurs for years and after these several attempts Congress finally ruled that the cable companies had to pay a fee for the use of broadcaster content. So, cable was disseminated by pirates.  Radio stations play the recording of music on the air for the public.  But, a recording has more than a recording artist; it will have a composer of that music before it’s recorded.  So, by law, the radio stations should have to pay both the recording artist and the composer for using its content, but they only pay the composer.  So we have the radio stations pirating the recording artists work. 

The purpose of the examples of Film, Radio and Cable that the book illustrates are to not say, Ha, we have been successful stealing other peoples creative work, but rather to show how our culture has been a Free Culture and much good has come of it.   These examples tie back to the statement earlier that every generation welcomes the pirates from last…every generation until now.  

One of Lessig’s most compelling stories was a description of “fair use”.  The phrase “fair use”is prevalent in the last third of the book. The best example used, I believe, is the story of Mr. Else.  Else was a filmmaker and he was putting together a documentary that included a brief, 4.5 second, scene of stagehands sitting around playing cards.  The issue with the scene was in the background where a Simpson’s cartoon episode was being broadcasted on a television.  Now, if Else kept the scene as is, with the Simpsons clip showing in the background, then he may find himself infringing on a copyright.  Else, not wanting to jeopardize his film, decided to call the owners of the Simpsons.  What he found was a little astonishing.  The copyright holder(s) wanted a $10,000 fee for him showing the clip….Now, skipping to the end of the story, several attorneys said that Else was in “fair use” and he would of won any case brought to him.  But, if we think about this, even with “fair use” the Goliaths and the law are cooperating together because Else would have had to pay the law (lawyers) a fee to represent him in his defense.  So, with fair use or not, individuals will have to go through the law to prove their “fair use”. 

I would like to conclude this book summary with the important section on Lessig’s representation of Eldred.  Eldred was a retired computer programmer who started deriving works from the public domain.  His creative work was to give the public access to different types of literatures from the past.  Eldred was basically taking older work from our past culture and fine tuning it to be delivered to today’s public interests…Now the issue came when Robert Frosts creative works were about to enter into the public domain.  Eldred wanted to post Robert Frosts’ collection in his public library for the public to use freely.  If we can think back this type of creativity is the same as Walt Disney’s….Like Disney’s work, i.e., Cinderella, Mickey Mouse, etc. , Disney derived those characters from a commercial work that entered into the public domain.  But, Congress (law) got in Eldred’s way.  Congress granted the Robert Frost Estate another copyright term.  The problem here is Congress’s action to support the Frost Estate.  The Constitution states, Congress has the power to promote the progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited time to Authors and Inventors the exclusive right to their respective writing and discoveries (the important words are bolded).  Of course Robert Frost is dead, but the Frost Estate has the money to pay Congress to keep their exclusive right.  So, as stated in the book, for this is the core of the “corruption in our present system of government.  “Corruption” not in the sense that representatives are bribed.  Rather, “corruption in the sense that the system induces the beneficiaries of Congress’s acts to raise and give money to Congress to induce it to act.  Eldred’s battle brought the attention to the readers, me specifically, that never in our history have fewer had a right to control core of the development of our culture than now.  So, in conclusion, the translation of this book could be best explained in Chapter 12’s subtopic, Constraining Innovators.  The aim of Goliath is to use the law to eliminate competition, so the Internet platform provides potentially immense competition, which would cause the diversity and range of content available to explode, which would cause the Goliaths much pain.  No one should embrace this use of law and unfortunately Lessing says, “there is no one doing much about it”…..Though we did see Lessing’s attempt with the Supreme Court fall short.

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StartUp.com

Startup.com gave us an up close and personal look into the lives of two very immature childhood friends that were riding the wave of the .com era of the late 90’s.  The film featured Kaliel Tuzman and Tom Herman who were “Internet Whizzes” that came up with a simple idea, for citizens to pay their parking tickets via the web,  that raised tens of millions of dollars…before evening delivering on an actual product. I find their business idea / product to be a bit weak and the characters (Kaliel & Tom) to be just as equally weak.  The weakness that I find throughout the film is near the opening scene when Tom Herman introduces Kaleil at a large gathering, Tom: “After a year of tossing around things like virtual tombstones and wedding registries, Kaleil said, ‘How about parking tickets?’ And I said, ‘Wow, Kaliel, that is the best idea I’ve heard!’ …Really, the best idea…I think Tom is so into Kaliel that if Kaliel said anything different than what he could come up with it would be a great idea…it just seemed too amateur.

(But, to give Tom the benefit of the doubt, the idea was not only to have citizens use their site to pay fines, but to link local government with their citizens from their homes for any governmental need).

So we have Kaliel who quit his job at Goldman Sachs and Tom, a so-called IT whiz, coming together to start a site that would be launched as a parking ticket site and then into an all-in-one government site.  Ok, so, they believe the government to be inefficient at managing their back office administration.  And so poof we have govWorks.com, the site that will make it easy and convenient to pay your inevitable parking tickets.  Except after suddenly deciding it would be good to have an actual working site, they discover at the last moment that it gives idiotically wrong answers to users’ questions….this last statement did not happen at the beginning of the film, it actually happened much later when they wanted to first launch their company site…obviously a huge problem.

Much of Kaliel and Tom’s time was spent on raising or arguing about money compared to how much time should be spent on important things like building their product……web site and finding customers.

Also, they would ignore experts advice in the industry and really seemed more like guys who didn’t want to start this business to improve America’s parking-fine collection process, but more to receive the hand outs from Wall-Street’s million dollar bills to anyone with a .com idea…..example from the film is near the beginning, Tom talking to Kaliel states: “You’re going to be a billionaire, and I’m going to be a lowly millionaire, but that’s all right. From this we can make an assumption that Tom is not only the tech guy but also a dreamer, while we can already tell that Kaliel is the hard-talking big ego businessman. We can tell this by the way he tells Tom to not talk during meetings with investors because he knows how to talk to the “big guys”….He also cracks jokes with President Clinton on air and even tries to slip him a business card.

As the film moves on, we, the audience, still know very little about the actual product but know that the company is receiving funding, but maybe using that funding not to improve the actual product like technological advancement (we know during this time that competition was steep and technology was changing rapidly) but more to bring on more employees.  In as little as 11 months the company was growing rapidly and finally leveling out at 233 employees, but for what, a site that would just help us pay parking tickets?…  This growth spurt seemed a bit too much.  From what I could tell is that the management of that growth coupled with the growth of products was not parallel. 

During the film you notice that govWork.com has two CEO’s with different managing styles.  The whole idea of having two guys as a CEO is doomsday for any company.  Kaliel is a cheer leader at times with his employees and Tom is the one to bring everyone back to earth.  Tom cannot hand over control of the work to employees and will not listen to employees observations of the product.  We see up close a conversation between Tom and one of his IT guys who notices a problem…Tom speaks abruptly and ignorant at any constructive thought the employee says. Tom wants to not only manage but also do the work…not a good combo for a leader.  Kaliel wants everything out of his employees because he goes ‘all out” every minute of every day.  This fine but his concentration is more on raising funding on his own rather than taking a look at the big picture…which is how effective are his employees working and how well the product is developing.  We see the turning point of the founders break up during a board meeting when Kaliel points out to Tom that he is not doing his job well because the site is behind schedule.  Kaliel state: “What we are doing doesn’t work”…. “it does work”, says Tom…..Kaliel ,”then how come we are fixing it”.  A CEO needs to be one step ahead with his company, product and employees at all times.  Neither Kaliel nor Tom had their arms around the whole company. 

Startup.com is the prototypical story of the Internet venture…with dramatic gains and even more dramatic losses, the unlimited potential for both success and failure. Through the unbiased lens of this documentary filmmaker, we come to understand a bit of the complexity, expertise and speed necessary to survive in the unlimited world of Internet commerce.

From the film we understand that a company was funded with tens of millions of dollars, hired hundreds of employees, received national spotlight and by the end of the film, we learn that of all the cities in America, this company had signed up a mere 45 as customers.   Startup.com illustrates the formula where immaturity and blind-full investing equals bankruptcy in 2 years.

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An Army of Davids

I’m sure that I’m not the only one here who sees one book about the leveling power technology is providing for the little guys and one book about scientific breakthroughs with Glenn Reynolds’ personal fantasy interests along with it.  When I read through the first chapter I felt that the book would give precise details of how the little guys / bloggers are revolutionizing media and business through technological advances.  Take the end of chapter 1, pg. 10, “ I’ll look at the way this change is playing out in the worlds of business, media, art and national security.  I’ll look at the downside of empowering individuals: if amateur musicians or bloggers are empowered by technology, so in a different way are terrorists”.  This sounds interesting to me…I’m excited to continue reading.

            During the first book I really enjoyed Chapter 7 about Horizontal knowledge.  Horizontal knowledge by the books definition, pg. 121, is communication among individuals, who may or may not know each other, but who are loosely coordinated by their involvement with something, or someone, of mutual interest..And it’s extremely powerful because it makes people smarter.  This chapter stuck out the most because it truly covered what I thought this whole book would do…capture precise actions and movements that create competition. The best line from the chapter is Glenn’s comment on the skeptics about the future of the WEB, “they didn’t appreciate what lots of smart people, loosely coordinating their actions with each other, are capable of accomplishing. It’s the power of horizontal, as opposed to vertical knowledge”. The best example I could pull from the book that referenced this statement would be the quick blurb about  what seemed to be the only successful same-day 9/11 response to rescuing citizens was through cell phone communication between individuals.  The quick coordination of individuals working together to move people to safety before the well equipped Big Guy’s graced the scene.  That’s individuals working horizontally instead of getting a vertical order from their superior.

I also enjoyed Glenn’s writing on the Third Places along with what amateur musicians are capable of doing now.  I myself have been self-employed and enjoyed the benefits that accompanied me to do so, i.e., laptop, WiFi and cell phone.  I could not of branched out on my own without these technological advancements.  I could talk to clients on the West Coast through web camera conferencing and then send them my work instantly for their viewing from any location in my house or at the coffee house or better yet my clients and prospective clients could learn more about me with a click of their mouse to view my company website…designed and edited by yours truly.  The power of technology is brilliant.

But at times I felt that Glenn just swooped in and out of some really good statements and then just disappeared into some other world.  I believe examples of technology making institutions decentralized were more briefs that the reader was supposed to take and run with…The pages on how the New York Times editor was ousted and how John Kerry was caught in a tight spot with him being in Cambodia in 1968, but not…Where was the breakdown of how bloggers / individuals brought these guys down precisely…point A to point B.  I would of like to have more. 

I felt that Chapters 1 -7 or the first 100+pgs of the book did an okay job on what the original thesis was, which again was, the way change (big to small) is playing out in the worlds of business, media, arts and security.  But as I felt like a teenager at Prom being lead on thinking that this was going somewhere good…then something happened… the second book. 

Did I take too long of a break, or did I come back from a break and pickup the wrong book…or does Glenn have multiple personalities, did he just get too bored with his writing so far or did he take a break for the night and got too involved in his kids slumber party where they watched a science fiction movie finished up with video games till 3am.  Then returned to the book soon after?…Nanotech, Robots & superhuman abilities.

I had a hard time agreeing with some of what was written at this point within the second book…He mentioned that he believes that the guys playing video games in the basement developed into more successful people than those who didn’t.  Just because this may have been Glenn’s childhood and given his success doesn’t mean this is across the board.  Where is the stats table or interviews? Glenn instead elected to interview people on anti-aging and robots…come on?

Example is his interview with Cambridge University’s biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey…

Glenn: What will life be like for people with a life expectancy of 150 years?

Aubrey: [We will actually have indefinite lifespans.] Life will be very much the same as now, in my view, except without the frail people. People will retire, but not permanently – only until they need a job again. Adult education will be enormously increased, because education is what makes life never get boring. There will be progressively fewer children around, but we’ll get used to that…Another important difference, I’m convinced, is that there will be much less violence whether it be warfare or serious crime, because life will be much more valuable when it’s so much more under our control.

The problem I see with life expectancies stretching to this level is that we better find more resources to survive on because adults use up a lot of Earth’s resources…food, fuel and square footage…I guess that’s Glenn’s point with Colonizing Mars…we are going to have to find more square footage.  Not the place nor the time… On a side not,  I did find the interview humorous with Ray Kurzweil (Singularity).. In Glenn’s third question he brings up a point about Cleverness and how people who are clever are not on top or powerful.  Then Ray Kurzweil’s first response was, This is a clever —and important—question..To me he was calling out Glenn but quickly rebounded his thought.

 I believe Glenn just left behind what the book was marketed to do..Media and Bloggers, the decentralizing of the Big’s has begun.  I really think that most of these chapters were “fillers”, a great disconnect here for me at least.  Glenn went on a rant about colonizing Mars and how China might build a 4,000 ton spaceship powered by nuclear explosions.  Glenn was trying to attempt to tie this back to the books original message, but that really would only work if we really think China, the most populated country is a “David”.

I wish he would of used more of his profession as a Law Professor more if he was going to go on rants.  He could of talked more about how the legal side of “big to small” would play out or talked more about what he his teaching his students about the legal “Davids”.

The only good business idea I pulled from the second book is the point Glenn made on having more of the “X-Prizes” out there for technology advancement.  This makes sense to me because having a substantial prize like the $10million for the X-Prize would create greater competition and several great ideas at a substantially lower cost to the public.   

The last chapter of Singularity is maybe the most interesting out of the second book, which is defined as, “the point at which technological change has become so great that it’s hard for people to predict what would come next” (pg 237).   I do agree that we are aggressively approaching levels of intelligence that if not carefully managed could destroy us.  At this point I just went with what I was reading…I mean it was hard not to bring out your inter-child now.  He was talking about superhuman abilities.       

I understand that Glenn is a smart and well-rounded guy who might be the ultimate David…well at least the spokesman.  But what happens when individuals get Big.  Let’s take Glenn for example; he started brewing his own beer, having a record label and a successful blog, where apparently he has quite the following…What I’m getting at his if the “David’s” are decentralizing the institutions then what’s to say that the really successful “David’s” won’t turn into the Big…History repeating itself?   But I do see chapter 7 still sticking out even when I reflect on the entire book..Again Horizontal Knowledge is basically having regular guys asking questions, looking up info using the WEB to become more educated…I think with the variety this book brings us definitely looks as if Glenn was using Horizontal Knowledge with his experience on us.  I mean here is a book that I thought was going to talk more and more about blogging vs. big media but I walk away with information from blogging to space to nanotech.   I really want to find some more information on nanotech and space now.  

In conclusion the book ends with these words: “The Army of Davids is coming. Let the Goliaths beware” (pg. 268). By the time I had reached this point, it seemed to me that the first book fairly supports this conclusion.  I understand that Glen was saying that small is the new big and that we are coming into an era where the little guy, David’s” will have ever-greater influence over the big guy, Goliath.

 I’ll end by saying that the first book had some good themes like the mobile offices & production through individualism and how technology is leveling the playing field , but the second with its scientific fantasy world Glenn jumps into proves an interesting and alarming point that with technology comes opportunities but we should be careful not be jack-of-all king-of-none……Are we becoming too Clever.

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