Lazy Producers and Bored Consumers

Module 5- Major Blog posting

The discussion question at hand for this major blog post is a loaded question that greatly influences today’s technological society:

“How can online communities of “producer-consumers” literate in new media work toward building a robust and freely accessible cultural commons in the face of restrictive copyright laws?”

With the growing online technology available to us, development of new media outlets have been born. Alex Miller writes in his blog that “With new media comes a whole new kind of community, one that has no borders and exists purely online” (http://alexamiller0419.blogspot.ca/2013/01/moving-pass-borders.html) and boy is that ever true. With the constant building of online communities, be it on social networks like Facebook or Twitter, or on forum websites like Reddit, they have all redefined the concept of community and put it into a purely online sphere. These online communities now exist purely online and the people have very little to no face to face meetings.

(In this case specifically, lets just exclude Facebook and consider websites like Twitter and Reddit. Since most people on Facebook only add people they have actually met/are friends with in real life!)

So with this idea of an online community, we must also consider what kind of information is being produced and consumed by the people involved. Do they actually come up with their own material, or is it a literal “copy-and-paste” situation from other peoples work, without citation or acknowledgement of the original author? Then, since there is no citation, how do we actually know who the original author is?

In the article the cultural logic of media convergence by Henry Jenkins, he makes the argument that “no one knows everything, everyone knows something, all knowledge resides in humanity.”(Jenkins) This is exactly what one should consider when thinking about producers and consumers of online content. Although everyone who is online consuming material, very few actually produce their own material online.

“according to 2007 statistics, only between 0.5 %– 1.5 % users of most popular social media sites (Flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia) contributed their own content. Others remained consumers of the content produced by this 0.5 – 1.5%” (Manovich, 2008)

This statistic in Lev Manovich’s article entitled “The Practice of Everyday (Media) Life: From Mass Consumption to Mass Cultural Production” is depressing but extremely believable.  The amount of people who produce other people’s work and claim it as their own is becoming a more and more popular problem with these online communities. Lets take into consideration the recently popularized “meme” fad. It is nearly impossible to go back through the history of a picture and find out who the author is, or who the person in the picture is. So the question I then ask is, Are internet memes subject to copyright and trademark laws? Especially the ones featuring an image from a movie or television show that are probably trademarked or at least have some type of intellectual property rights involved with them. Yet they keep on being produced and re-produced for our visual enjoyment.

Meme Infringement

A similar idea to this was brought up by one of my classmates. In the blog entitled “I’m Marky Mark and I’m here to move you”, Izbah writes that “People say that because of digital technology, making a movie is easier than ever in this day and age, and this is very true, yet people choose to take copyrighted content, remix it, maybe add some pictures or a background and then claim it as their own on their personal Youtube page.”( http://izbah.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/this-tube-is-your-tube-this-tube-is-my-tube/) This idea is very similar to the concept of the internet meme (and depending on the movies content, might very well include them!)

So I leave you with one question. Do you believe that online communities of “producers and consumers” are actually producing new forms of media? Or are they just a “copy-and-paste” fad?

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