Active Archives

Posted: November 14, 2010 at 7:12 pm  |  By: morgancurrie  |  Tags: , , , ,

by Caroline Goralczyk

Michael Murtaugh,  writer, web designer and creator of the Active Archives, presented his project that is aiming at setting up multi-directional communication channels for cultural archives and therewith challenging its traditional uses. Founded in 2006 in Brussels, Active Archives is offering new ways of making platforms for cultural industries by questioning the notions of authorship and enthusiastically working with free software to promote new ways of instant publishing on cultural archives.

As Murtaugh points out, most of the interesting cultural archives have understood the act of instant publishing by putting up websites that mirror regular information brochures, announcements and text publishing that is based on a linear communication process where information is just passed on directly to the user without actively involving him. With understanding the web more as a space for collaborative writing, prototyping and the development of new ideas, the goal of Active Archives is to make cultural archives go beyond their task of simply preserving culture and making it accessible to users.

To illustrate how Active Archives can be used, Murtaugh introduces the audience into the project called 'Active Archive Video Wiki' which is designed to open the 'black box' of online videos by giving users the possibility to write with video and create new compositions with online elements. By referring to the world wide web as the 'wiki wiki web', Murtaugh also draws attention to the inconvenience of reading on the Internet. With finding new ways of working with videos and making archives more readable to users, his project uses free software to improve the interactive use of online material. Also, Active Archives works like a browser that is convenient to handle as users can copy URLs and then add them to the archive instead of uploading it to the repository.

Death Knell for Open Politics

Posted: November 14, 2010 at 5:04 pm  |  By: morgancurrie  |  Tags: , , ,

Open source, open government, open culture - as Nate Tkacz, PhD at the University of Melbourne points out in his talk, the ubiquity of 'openness' as a master category of politics in network cultures turns into a multidimensional, and even more into a political term in the debate on the free and open. With referring to historical notions of openness, Tkacz makes some critical statements on the function of the open with particularly discussing it on the basis of Karl Popper's work on 'The Open Society and its Enemies".

Nate Tkacz's research interest lies in investigating the political dynamic of Open Projects, which are projects influenced by the principles and production models of Free and Open Source Software, but translated into different domains. When making the reference to Popper, he introduces the thought of the 'open' being connected to politics and mass understanding.  Karl Popper, who referred to the open society as an entity contrary to totalitarianism, finds a close relation to the economics of Friedrich Hayek, who claimed that a decentralisation of markets was crucial as the inability to be certain of knowledge required openness as opposed to planned economy.

While 'openness' became a political term and open source the model of making things and grounding ideas, there is a problematic distinction between the concept of the open and lived open society. As neoliberalism ushered in with the 1980s and the ideas of open competition, open standards and open markets were more than ever on the fore, the concept of this openness also applied to the Internet which finally turned this hype of liberalism against the model of intellectual property that would close down environments and be contradictory to the 'open'.

When outlining different types of 'open', Nate Tkacz asks the question which is central to his talk: How is it even possible to criticize the 'open'? When thinking of open being oppositional to totalitarianism and connected to open systems of life, this question seems paradoxical when trying to criticize it. However, the term can be used in different ways and by different movements. To illustrate the political nature of the open, Tkacz portrays several groupings that are all based on transparency and the idea of the free and open: Google, Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama, Lawrence Lessig with the idea of free culture, Hardt and Begri and the Tea Party as an Open Source Movement. In conclusion, the paradoxical nature of the open is that the open society is not open anyway, but it is also a side of politics and conflicts.

by Caroline Goralczyk

A contribution to a critique of free culture: From Anti-Copyright to the Creative Anti-Commons

Posted: November 14, 2010 at 4:38 pm  |  By: morgancurrie  |  Tags: , , , , , , ,

Dymitri Kleiner is a software developer working on projects that investigate the political economy of the internet, and the ideal of workers’ self-organization of production as a form of class struggle. Born in the USSR, Dmytri grew up in Toronto and now lives in Berlin. He is a founder of the Telekommunisten Collective, which provides internet and telephone services, as well as undertakes artistic projects that explore the way communications technologies have social relations embedded within them, such as deadSwap (2009) and Thimbl (2010).

Kleiner’s latest project however was the writing of “The Telekommunist Manifesto”, a book published by the Institute of Network Cultures of Amsterdam and launched in the Economies of Commons 2 conference at De Balie, Amsterdam, on Friday the 12th of November, 2010. Even though, Dmytri Kleiner introduced himself as a hacker or an amateur writer and not as an academic, his work stimulated an interesting and rather intense discussion.

In his talk in the session “Critique of the “Free and Open”, Kleiner follows the track from Anti-Copyright to the Creative Anti-Commons and presented it to the audience as a tragedy in three parts, which are described below.

Kleiner opened his talk claiming that copyright was not created to empower artists. Instead, it was created by the bourgeoisie to embed cultural production in an economic system that encourages the theft of the surplus value. In this context, the notion of “author” was invented just to justify the making of property out of cultural works.

Further on, he presented the three parts of the “tragedy”:

ACT 1: ANTI-COPYRIGHT- A proletarian movement

Anti-copyright is a proletarian or anti- capitalist movement, embraced by labor struggles, that opposes mightily to the existence of the individual author. It is based on the ideal of a common culture with no distinction between producers and consumers. An ideal that makes it incompatible with the needs of dominant Capitalism. Consequently, Anti-copyright could never be seen as nothing more than a threatening, radical fringe.

ACT 2: COPYLEFT – Invasion of the Bourgeoisie

Copyleft on the other hand, an alternative form of dissent to copyright that emerged with the development of Free Software, is fully compatible both to the contemporary economic system and to Bourgeois capitalism. The reason is simple: Software is capital. Producers depend on it so that they can produce and make profit out of the circulation of the generated consumer goods. Free software’s sustainability is based on the fact that it is largely funded by corporations, since it’s cheaper and more flexible compared to software developed from scratch.

ACT 3: THE CREATIVE COMMONS –The author reborn as Useful Idiot

Both Anti-copyright and Copyleft celebrated the death of the author. In the Creative Commons model however, that was boosted by the success of the Free Software Movement “the author is reborn as useful idiot”. He can’t reserve “all rights” as copyright suggested, but only “some rights”, including the options of “Non Derivative” and “Non Commercial”. The paradox of the Creative Commons, as presented by Dmytri Kleiner, is that the consumer is deprived from his right to become a producer and that the “Free Works” are not actually free, but private. Thus, the “Commons” turns into an “Anti-Commons”, where free sharing encounters constantly the barrier of incompatible licenses.


Developing his thought on the Creative Commons, Dmytri Kleiner claims that it is not an example of Anti-copyright or of Copyleft but a case of Copy-just-right: the model is based on content distribution but the “mechanical royalties” are being eliminated. However, he comes up with the antidote: Copy-far-left.


Copy-far-left, acknowledging that neither Anti-Copyright not Copyleft can provide a sustainable solution for economic support of cultural producers, brings a new perspective: the Non-Commercial clause used by some creative commons license can be sustained but with limitations. Copy-far-left suggests that commons based commercial use should be allowed explicitly to Co-operatives, Collectives, Non-profits and independent producers and not to profit seeking organizations. That way, free licensing remains a source of funding, while consumers regain the right to become producers, as long as they don’t become exploiters.

In his epilogue, Dmytri Kleiner points out that in order to have a free culture we have to assert a free society. Cultural workers have to work in solidarity with other workers on that big idea.

By Ilektra Pavlaki

(Pro)-Active Archives: Celluloid Remix – Annelies Termeer

Posted: November 13, 2010 at 10:26 pm  |  By: morgancurrie  |  Tags: , , ,

By Fenneke Mink

Annelies Termeer presents the Celluloid Remix online video contest organized by EYE Film Institute Netherlands and Images for the Future. In this 7 years during project four public archive institutes digitize, save, preserve and share the Dutch audiovisual heritage for the future.

What comes after digitization is the question Termeer answers by presenting the practices of experimenting with new possibilities of digitized commons in the Celluloid Remix contest. For five month contesters were asked to make a remix by reusing the available video content with the theme of modern times. The content made available for the contest is a great part of the 1917 - 1932 silent film collection of the EYE Film Institute. The fact that most movement could be used without audio made the challenge manageable for remixing the motion. Celluloid Remix

Before starting the contest the EYE Film Institute had some challenges of their own to overcome. Mainly copyright and property issues of the material. After the kick off by video artist Eboman as the project ambassador the quality standard was set.  And the institute launched the different platforms for communication means of a website, motion upload page, Facebook page and different workshops at higher art education institutes of applied science. The results were more than expected, a short list was shown at the Dutch Film Festival and the winner was awarded at the award ceremony at the festival. Movement by Jata Haan

The lessons learned as an archive are for Termeer the use full workshops held as part of the remix project. These were necessary to give the contesters the grip they needed for the project. The EYE Institute learned by this that contest involving user generated content, or user participation are in need of guidance by the instate provided to the participants. This is the first step to an open and free environment of cultural practice and sharing of content and creativity as archive of the commons. The first focus should herewith be on the aim target and communication together with the right timing matched to the audience. For future project this focus will be applied together with the infrastructure of a other archives to create an even larger sharing of the cultural commons by (open) archives.

An introduction of Intelligent Television – By Peter Kaufman

Posted: November 13, 2010 at 10:00 pm  |  By: morgancurrie  |  Tags: ,

Peter B. Kaufman is president and founder of Intelligent Televisio0n, a research institute focussed on video developments concerning culture & education. He gave four key points for introduction which he will turn further into in the next sessions:

  1. Force of law, technology and history is on the side of liberty and access. To quote Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “Man is born Free”.  Global understanding of human property is changing rapidly and has its effects on the balance of ownership and property rights. Will liberal cultivation will take place again?   “A new accommodation will need to be reached”
  2. We have to start un-burdening with our past. Video for Wikipedia and the web. Only less than 5% is digitized and put online. Legal complexity makes it difficult to do so, because of (old) contracts and laws. So publishing online is complex, “music is the most complicated thing of all” states Kaufman.
  3. We need new models to create an open debate in our world about how to deal with this issues in the future: The way we produce public media and go forward. New protocols, recording and producing content.
  4. How to relate to the commercial world better. Technologies and trends of video/music – pubcasters. Open resources will be discoverable, people who customize resources. People who invest millions of dollars for development in television-technology. Trying to build a new social contract between producers, consumers of content. What’s the new norm for media makers?

To conclude: "New media productions connected to our history and the web and future! Empowered producers of the most important audiovisual content of our time!"  says Kaufman. The collaboration between the old apparatus of production and the generative activity (participation, meta-data, tagging, open API culture) needs a change right now!

Author: Elias van Hees

Joost Poort: Conference Keynote Address – Invited Respondents

Posted: November 13, 2010 at 7:16 pm  |  By: morgancurrie  |  Tags: , , ,

Joost Poort responses on the key note presentation of Charlotte Hess from an economic perspective. Poort is Economic Researcher at SEO on the market structure and regulation of infrastructures.  He explains that economist have a very strict definitions of public goods and that digitization turned many culture goods into public goods. The easy answer on the question of ownership that arises is to ask cultural finance, but it is not just about shifting money, it is also on welfare deduction. The consequence of deduction can easily be explained by the light house as an easy example of a public good. You can’t exclude people to use it. But even then, the people of the harbor has to fund it.
There are some other problems we see nowadays in the cultural sector. There is hope for a more or less voluntary contribution to a public good, when the users value it enough to give a contribution or donation. In addition Poort says that public information should be freely available.

To Poort the idea of the commons are changing trough technology. This change is notable in the cultural industry where a lot is happening at the same time while  sharing and cost redundant go hand in hand. According to Poort the definition of a public good is non rival and non exclusive in economic terms. Digitalization turned information sources into public goods. Traditional public goods are in the domain of public finance, the transformation from commercial goods to public goods does not mean the goods have to be under public funding.  A public good is never for free, a lot of money is involved of often hidden costs. Although this debate is not about equity, it is about public funding not solving the issue of public goods if all else fails. The example of the light house is given here. If the harbor stops funding the light house, who will lead the way for the ships to come and make use of the provided services the whole community benefits from? And when funding stops, different incomes should be explores just like the music business does not urn their income on selling CD’s, the money is earned nowadays with music concerts and performances.

To Poort a commons is an essence, rival but not exclusive therefore it is according to Poort probably not possible to give a closed definition in an economic perspective of the commons. The more good is shared, the more good is available while the value increases. But even if a public good is free, people are willing to pay if they can see ad value in it. A large percentage of people still buy CD’s after downloading, therefore a public good does not have to be for free. A suggested model can be of sponsoring or subscription such as the case with online music service Spotify. Or in the case user terms a trusted, save and easy payment structure such as the Apple app store can bring about payment for common goods. For Poort, public information should be free of use, including all information which is already paid for. But what happens if a common good is partly funded?

A wider perspective on the commons of public information Poort mentions the costs of privacy in accessing this information and protection of surveillance. When information is free of use and aces, it can also be used for different, including negative purposes.  A unwanted effect of free information for Poort is the car number plate mobile text massages request for car prices. Everyone who is interested can find out the price of a random car.  The debate of privacy and additional costs is slightly mentioned with this example.

Poort responses on the question that key note speaker Charlotte Hass raises of the role and goal for the library in this digital era. He states that the public libraries in the age of the E-Books technology will change and replace the old model for traditional library models do not work in the digital age as he says, 'I wanted to rent an e-book but it was out of stock'. Bas Savenije, Director General of the Dutch Royal Library in the Netherlands KB, responses to this comment by stating that the duty of the library should not only be to make E-Books available, but also to support the community in providing information. Public libraries should be more of a platform and service provider than finding place. Libraries should answer to the new need of the public to show their value to the commons.

Economies of the Commons 2 – Video Trailer

Posted: November 11, 2010 at 3:27 am  |  By: admin  |  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Economies of the Commons II HD Trailer on Vimeo.

Download or play Mpeg4 (Mp4) video

Graphic design and leader: Jeroen Joosse
Sound and music: Hugo Verweij
Production assistance: Crookedline

Sound samples:
BBC: Breaking news of Lady Diana crash, 1997
NTS: Prinsjesdag, 1960
Vara: Eerste uitzending Lingo, 1989
ITV: A major fraud: Who wants to be a millionaire, 2003
BBC: Now the news intro, 2001