Wikileaks vs Michael Jackson – And what about copyright?

With the release of diplomatic cables into the public domain one question is never asked. Who owns the rights to these documents? Whether their content is a “threat to the international community” or “truth which needs to be protected” is irrelevant. After all its big show business. Woody Allen’s remark that if show business would not be called show business it would be called show show is not missing the point. On day 20 of the wikileaks saga not only the internet is full of articles dissecting the stream of content for a niche audience. Opinion makers representing governments, non-profits, established professions and digital natives invest a lot of attention and thus money in the hope for a return of investment.

Who has to pay for the information thats filling up newspaper colums and TV prime time. Advertisers? Consumers? Taxpayers? Not so long ago a whole industry was rallying against what they saw as an attack on their very existence – Creative Commons. A legal scheme by which a creator can protect his digital work against exploitation with the same ease an experienced carpenter fixes a broken chair. A furious outcry from industry leaders and authors rights societies alike accomplished nothing in the face of the technological revolution set in motion over half a century ago. Anticopyright laws are drafted and make their way through the parliaments and governments of every western country. But drafting a law is by far easier than having the capacities to enforce it. Awareness raising campaigns sponsored by those who saw their business model beeing bypassed by technological change – notably P2P and MPEG – saw teenagers in classrooms beeing “thought” copyright while adviced to report violations made by there parents to local authorities.

Technology made people who consider themselves as law abiding citizens, criminals. It did not feel like a crime to use a free Torrent programme  to download the latest movie blockbuster. Did it damage Hollywood’s operations? Of course it did. But at the same time the inflationary effect of technological change brought Hollywood’s tools into the houses of everyday man. The same technology that destroyed Hollywood enabled it to make it ever more potent. Just think of digital compositing methods employed to generate everything out of a box.  Almost over night became a multi million dollar infrastructure available to millions of young mid-class boys and girls around the globe. Whith the shift from hardware to software, which was in many ways a shift from analog to digital devices, a new realm opend up and filled the fast growing space with content. And there is no end to it. More! – screams the prince of the air. More for everybody in 2011.

Lets assume we are all criminals on the matter of copyright infringement. Who has not listened to an mp3 track without owning the CD or downloaded it on Itunes? Or watched a divX rip  of a recent blockbuster? How about the wikileaks cables then? After all they are quiet entertaining. The opinion of a diplomat or a secret service agent on current affairs is worth every penny! Just imagine if wikileaks would have released the secret diaries keept by Michael Jackson or Britney Spears. Shocking details of the everyday life of a celebrity and superstar as RSS feed for everybody to see. Would this be of interest for anybody? And what about copyright law of such information? Would Sony or Bertelsmann want the exclusive rights or would they be satisfied with the increasing attention and coverage of their babies by reporters and journalists as wikileaks seems to be? After all, nothing in the cables is really new. And whatever Britney Spears private experiences are, it is unlikely that they differ in kind from others.  Whatever is interesting about the cables, it cannot be its content!

Now, we are all criminals on the matter of privacy infringement – the privacy of governments are its secrets. These secrets are not real secrets but the confidential conversations of the US diplomatic service and reveals much about its internal workings. And no doubt over its validity can be cast after monthly investigations by major news organizations (NYT, guardian, der Spiegel, El pais) and their subsequent evaluation. The consequences are really hard to estimate because most of them would have become public anyway. Historian would have used them to shine lights on events then thirty years old. But in the age of instant information they become an art form ready to be exploited for commercial success. Why not create a business model around it? Because the cables contain a danger for our democracy? No entrepreneur  sees danger, they only have eyes for opportunities.

So far the cables of embassies caused a lot of media attention world wide. Julian Assange is by now as known as Michael Jackson and is the face associated with an ‘distributed organization’.  A distributed organization like Wikileaks is not comparable to ordinary kinds of organization. No walls, no buildings, no organizational chart, no hierachie, no paycheck no work-times, no holiday, no pension scheme, no profit, no contracts. Like the Taliban or any other terrorist organization f.e. the mafia, Wikileaks is the antidote to todays establishment. Such a ‘distributed organization‘ can be viewed as an emerging property of the network. Institutions are structured around the efficiency by which they cease to exist. The substantial cost of communication technology provided the selection pressure necessary to shape an institutional setting aiming to keep them at a minimum. Maximizing profit goes hand in hand with reducing redundancies. With global communication costs at zero, distributed organizations held together by common interest have a competitative advantage. Nothing is wrong with assuming that office space is redundant in the age of instant information at zero cost.

But lets step back and observe. The outcry over the major identity theft of the U.S. state department is far from over. As the extension of military force, diplomacy cannot exist without it. But the difference is that information is as potent to lead to war as misinformation is about the very same wars. And most people in most states don’t trust the information they get from the government. For them Wikileaks is the revelation and the best revenge they can get. For people who trust their government it is also a threat to their own identity which causes them to call for Julians assassination or take side in a battle which is not their own. But the major financial institutions have chosen to be on the battlefield. With Amazon’s decision to take down the Wikileaks website it will suffer the same faith of Bank of America, VISA, Mastercard and Paypal. Money is information. And whoever controls information controls the flow of money. In an information war, everybody becomes a soldier or hostage.

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Through The Vanishing Point – First – Sensory Modes

As the Western world has invested every aspect of its waking life with visual order, with procedures and spaces that are uniform, continuous and connected, it has progressively alienated iteself from needful involvement in its subconscious life.

Our manner of juxtaposing a poem with a painting is designed to illuminate the world of verbal space – speech – through an understanding of spaces as they have been defined and explored through the plastic arts – sculpture -. The verbal medium is so completely environmental as to escape all perceptual study in terms of its plastic values. Everybody can talk, but few can paint. A dialogue between the different forms and qualities of the sister arts of poetry and painting needs no defense, but there has been little exercise of such a dialogue, especially with particular references. There has been some speculation from time to time on the lines of ul pictura poesis. The advantage of using two arts, both poetry and painting, simultaneously is that one permits a journey inward, the other a journey outward to the appearance of things.

(ICONIC modes) POETRIE —> INWARD

OUTWARD<— PAINTING (ILLUSTRATIVE modes)

The continuity of interface and dialogue between the sister arts should provide a rich means of training perception and sensibility.

SENSE <—> SENSIBILITY

We hope that the jagged edges of our iconic thrusts and queries will serve to open up, rather than to close, the imagery of the perceptual field.

In many of the sections of the book the reader will encounter a concern with the differences between iconic and illustrative modes in art and poetry. It is our purpose to provide a contemporary audience with the tools for discovery of a common ground among the manifestations of art in the world. Though the artistic intentions of the primitive artist and the Renaissance artist may be poles apart, the artistic effect under all conditions is a situation that serves to highten percetion. All the arts might be considered to act as counterenvironments or countergradients.

= COUNTER – GRADIENTS (the absence of a clear-cut boundary between one category and another, for example between cup andmug in semantics.)

Any environmental form whatsoever saturates perception so that its own character is imperceptible; it has the power to distort or deflect human awareness. Even the most popular arts can serve to increase the level of awareness, at least until they become entirely environmental and unperceived. (like the every day objects in POP ART) A liberating perspective on the art’s effect upon human limited sense of foresight.

HUMAN’s have a peculiar sense of foresight. It manifests itself in the ability to endure time for a goals in the far future. Nature has no foresight in itself other than what evolution’s fines product is able to deduce from its investigation.

THE RETURN OF FORMAL SPACE

To be continued

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Through The Vanishing Point – Space in Poetry and Painting

by Herbert Marshall McLuhan and Harley Parker

PREFACE

Since the advent of electric circuitry in the early nineteenth century, the need for sensory awareness has become more acute. Perhaps the mere speed-up of human events and the resulting increase in interfaces among all men and institutions insure a multitude of innovations that upset all existing arrangements whetever.

By the same token, men have moved along with difficulty toward the arts in the hope of increased sensory awareness. The artist has the power to discern the current environment created by the latest technology. Ordinary human instinct causes people to flinch back in fear from these new environments and to rely on the rear-view mirror as a kind of repeat or ricorso of the preceding environment,  thus insuring total disorientation at all times. It is not that there is anything wrong with the old environment, but it simply will not serve as navigational guide to the new one.

Paradoxically, war as an educational institution serves to bring people into contact with the new technological environments that the artist had seen much earlier. Complementarily, education can be seen as a kind of war conducted by the Establishment to keep the sensory life in line with existing commitments. It also serves to keep the sensory life out of touch with innovation. ” History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”

If war can become a form of education, art ceases to be a form of self-expression in the electric age. Indeed, it becomes a necessary kind of research and probing. Ashley Montagu has pointed out that the more civilization, the more violence. What he fails to note is the reason for this.

Civilization is founded upon the isolation and domination of society by the visual sense. The visual sense created a kind of human identity of the self requires persistent violence, both to one’s self and to others. As Joyce put it, “Love thy label as thyself.” Labels as classification are extreme forms of visual culture. As the visual bias declines, the other senses come into play once more, The arts have been expounding this fact for more than a century.

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Wikileaks: The global hunt for new metaphors

Naomi Wolf’s article is hilariously for many reasons. And David Weinberger’s nuanced position worth to reconsider. The lines are drawn by others anyway.  While Weinberger’s sees the significants of wikileaks as primary symbolic, Wolf is the artist who puts on the audience as a mask. Mark Zuckerberg’s baby is exercising the same effect on the individual that wikileaks exercises on institutions; identity crisis. Facebook’s goals are clear and find much support in driving a profession to embrace social networks for their purpose. To “master the art of behavioral targeting” sounds more familiar to our ears as “a just civilization“. But the effect is the same.

“This year they passed 500 million users. … The scale of Facebook is something that is transforming our lives. One in 10 people on the planet, and it’s excluded in China where one in five people on the planet live,”

Assange’s appearance creates the attention facebook has in 2007. And it divides opinions along the same lines as does wikileaks. How did the journalistic profession react to facebook? Uniformly they reacted in the same way to facebook as they did to weblogs or RSS a decade ago. Although Kuebler-Ross’s five stages of grief played out not quiet as simultaneously around the globe for weblogs as they did for facebook the structural impact was the same.

The first stage was one of finding a new language, new metaphors for what was mostly old vine in new bottles. Only some years ago consultant’s announced the marriage of “magazines” with “newspapers” (newszines)  the way to go,  Juan Antonio Giner now sees Journalism as about “finding” the news not just “releasing” and “decorating” it. Forgetting that his innovation was the response to the massive decline in advertisement revenue due to changing media consumption habits. Advertising plays the major role in stabilizing a media system constantly threatened by technological advances. As the internet is expected to take over newspapers in 2012 (in terms of advertising spending) the years of traditional TV are counted. The employment effects of this technological change are well documented and not unlike that of other sectors. A rise in budget cuts, rise in atypical working conditions and higher workload for many journalists around the globe. While new tools demand new skills to master the old craft of story telling much stress was underway long before wikileaks captivated so many so fast.

What happens now to wikileaks is what happened to all previous technologies. Diversification in degree and kind relative to the “rooster in the house”. A selection progress is yet to come by which the niches established provide an environment in which a given species can flourish. But for now we are left with a global hunt for new metaphors to “purify the dialect of the tribe” (T.S. Eliot correctly described this process).

While government’s response is uniform the business world has to wake up to the new realities unleashed by wikileaks. Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times reflects the understanding that “whatever American’s secret agenda was held to be, they definitely had one – only the naive could believe otherwise”. He dismisses the point that governments need to protect themselves from their own population; a principle embodied in diplomacy. While marketing seems at first to be the means to achieve for private companies what diplomacy does for governments, we can be sure that 2012 will see a rise in global advertising spending as much as in cyber security.

Wikileaks leesens the east-west divide, a comment by Boynoton Rawlings seeing Assange akin to Prometheus who “chained to the mountain with his liver eaten out by an eagle” is as much an attempt to update our sensibilities to the new realities as the comparison of Assange to Neon (the hacker from the Matrix). Prometheus stole the fire from the gods who resided in the heavens and brought it down to men. A titan himself who felt sympathy for men revenge for Zeus autocratic regime. Zeus won, and send Pandora with a box down to men – the rest is history: for the greeks at least. In the following comment G. Rayners is right in assuming that “in terms of freedom of information and consideration of human rights that west and east are now set on a convergent course”. But he is wrong in that it is a truism. After all, the “Great Firewall of China” was build by European and American companies. And TOR, the encryption system Wikileaks utilizes, was developed by a chinese to overcome the firewall.

 

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Wikileaks and the holy grail of Journalism

At the beginning was the word. The greek term  for word was logos. And that might have been translated “In the beginning was the point of it all”. The plan that would be realized, do you say, the intelligent design that the balance of human life and human history would instantiate. In the beginning was the point, and journalists are very helpful in getting us to the point.

By the end of november wikileaks suffered a DOS attack and was subsequently taken offline by Amazon and signed out by Master, Visa and Paypal. At day two (29th of November) of what came to be known as cyberwar, Hillary Clinton stayed rather cool about an issue that has since than quadrupled. And EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton should not be too happy for the pretext to spend more money on cyber security and counter-espionage. Paper copies of  top-level-classified documents from the EU’s intelligence-sharing bureau is EU’s answer to the hole which wikileaks fills.

While the US state department is ‘looking into’ possibility to issue a law suit against the australian hacker – Austria’s far left party considers to grant Assange asylum. While the french government dislikes the idea of having wikileaks hosted on their territory, US diplomat Hillary calls wikileaks action an attack on the international community. And she is right! Nothing could be further away from the truth than an information fountain spreading globally information worth in the billions to everybody for free. The question is why not building a business model around it?

Lets start slowly. The moral quibbles of opponents and apologetics on freedom of information are boring and miss the point but help in deluding our grasp. Like the free flow of gossip about political leaders are being repackaged by journalists behind their screen analyzing the constant stream of information via RSS, so are the debates on “whether it[wikileaks] is a good or a bad thing” or whether Assange is a “hero or a monster”.  That China was the first nation successfully blocking wikileaks finds resonance in all western attempts to stop its service from working. And how hard this is explains Jeff Jonas.

On the fourth day (1st of December) after the information fountain began spreading its content over the globe the horde jumped on it. No newspaper on this globe did not pick “whats fit to print” and did so instantaneously. Until Anonymos was sure what the phenomenon meant Mastercard found itself in the leaked cables and got attacked.

And what does this all have to do with Journalism?

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Wikileaks: The implosion of Investigative Journalism

Picture taken from

Take Today: The media as drop out. Todays buzz is certainly not yesterdays news: look at facebook or on twitter. When wikileaks released a video in june this year nobody blamed the Chinese dissidents who announced in 2007 that “they will launch a site designed to let whistleblowers in authoritarian countries post sensitive documents on the internet without being traced” for violating the values undergrinding western democracies. But in the last week Julian Assange became the center of attention for millions around the planet as its detention in England casts an enigmatic shadow over a charismatic character.

Marc Coddington provides a useful summery of the highlights of yesterdays news briefly and concise. Most professionals from the field of journalism and experts are torn between moralizing and analyzing the “full-out war on the internet”. But while most commentators attempt to reconcile their identity in the face of the new reality, few go beyond the surface level into the more profound implications of the wikileaks phenomenon. Others are just artistic expressions to update our sensibilities to the present. Robert Fisk is unlike others who always look into the rear-view mirror for a guide to the future rightly pointing to the loss of institutional memory as the cause of wikileaks rise.

“…Its a very sad day for journalism, in fact what appears to be happening is of a computer hacker… has become the new journalist”

Is wikileaks the failure of journalism? Very much, Fisk says and explains the larger consequence of wikileaks on the values undergrinding western democracies.

“There is one thing we don’t take into account. These are documents that eventually would have become in the public domain in 30 years time. Where of course historians would have read them and used them. Whats different about this is that we are now getting them online and in real time. And if this goes on, and the Americans actually cant improve their encryption of their own documents when they are floating around, we are going to have pretty soon a situation where we will know today what the British ambassador or the American ambassador is saying in Beirut yesterday. And this will be pretty astonishing.”

Not only is this the view of an icon in investigative journalism but also that of an informed historian. Needless to say the matters have worsen every day with journalists subscribe to the Cable Leak’s via RSS picking out what satisfies their national or nice audience. Neither in 2008 when wikileaks conducted an information auction into Chavez’s management, CIA activities in Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution nor in 2009 when it publishes 9/11 messages

has it caused so much widespread discussion over the moral ground of the non-profit organization funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public. With the release of 250.000 diplomatic cables of  “The Iraq War Logs” two weeks ago the tip of an iceberg is now melting. This caused already one victim. An  69-year-old diplomat was admitted to George Washington University Hospital after falling ill at work on Friday. Richard Holbrooke is a good example of what might happen to many more people over the shock wikileaks created by making public what was thought of being confidential. Finding himself on the front news of newspapers all over the globe can cause heart-attack. And it is only in the light of this tragedy that we can appreciate the conclusion Oiwan Lams blog post with the title “Why is china blocking wikileaks?” has to offer us. Maybe we are all wrong about our assumptions underpinning our self created identities. And it is good to remember that the same companies that build the “Great Firewall of China” hosted Wikileaks “alleged documents”.

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Media Log

by Marshall Mcluhan (1953-1959)

About 1830 Lamartine pointed to the newspaper as the end of book culture: “The book arrives too late.” At the same time Dickens used the press as base for a new impressionist art, which D. W. Griffiths and Sergei Eisenstein studied in 1920 as the foundation of movie art.

Robert Browning took the newspaper as art model for his impressionist epic The Ring and the Book; Mallarme did the same in Un Coup de Des.

Edgar Allen Poe, a newsman and, like Shelly, a science fictioneer, correctly analyzed the poetic process. Conditions of newspaper serial publication led both him and Deckens to the process of writing backward. This means simultaneity of all parts of a composition. Simultaneity compels sharp focus on effect of thing made. Simultaneity is the form of the press in dealing with Earth City. Simultaneity is formula for the writting of both detective story and symbolist poem. These are derivatives (one “low” and one “high”) of the new technological culture. Simultaneity is related to telegaph, as the telegraph to math and physics.

Joyce’s Ullysses completed the cycle of this technological art form.

The mass media are extensions of the mechanisms of human perception; they are imitators of the modes of human apprehension and judgment.

Technological culture in the newspaper form structures ordinary awareness in patterns that correspond to the most sophisticated maneuvers of mathematical physics.

Newton’s Optics created the techniques of picturesque and Romantic poetry.The technicques of discontinuous juxtaposition in landscape poetry and painting were transferred to the popular press and the popular novel.

In 1830, due to this technological revolution, English popular consciousness was structured in ways that French and European intellectuals did not acquire until a later generation.
Average English and American unawareness has been ahead of official culture and awareness for two hundred years has automatically thrown in his lot with the average man against officialdom.

The Swiss culture historian Giedion has had to invent the concept of “anonymous history” in order to write an account of the new technological culture in Anglo-Saxondom.

The professoriat has turned its back on culture for two hundred years because the high culture of technological society is popular culture and knows no boundaries between high and low.

The children of technological man respond with untaught delight to the poetry of trains, ships, planes, and to the beauty of machine products. In the schoolroom, officialdom suppresses all their natural experience; children are divorced from their culture. They are not permitted to approach the traditional heritage of mankind through the door of technological awareness; this only possible door for them is slammed in their face. The only other door is that of the high-brow. Few find it, and fewer find their way back to popular culture.

T.S. Eliot has said he would prefer an illiterate audience, for the ways of official literacy do not equip the young to know themselves, the past, or the present. The technique of an Eliot themselves, the past, or the present. The technique of an Eliot poem is a direct application of the method of the popular radiotube grid circuit to the shaping and control of the charge of meaning. An Eliot poem is one instance of a direct means of experiencing, under conditions of artistic control, the ordinary awareness and culture of contemporary man.

Photography and cinema have abolished realism as too easy; they substitute themselves for realism. All the new media, including the press, are art forms that have the power of imposing, like poetry, their own assumptions. The new media are not ways of relating us to the old “real” world; they are the real world, and they reshape what remains of the old world at will.

Official culture still strives to force the new media to do the work of the old media. But the horseless carriage did not do the work of the horse; it abolished the horse and did what the horse could never do. Horses are fine. So are books.

Technological art takes the whole earth and its population as its material, not as its form. It is too late to be frightened or disgusted, to greet the unseen with a sneer. Ordinary life-work demands that we harness and subordinate the media to human ends.

The media are not toys; they should not be in the hands of Mother Goose and Peter Pan executives. They can be entrusted only to new artists, because they are art forms.

Harnessing the Tennessee, Missouri, or Mississippi is kid stuff compared with curbing the movie, press, or television to human ends. The wild broncos of technological culture have yet to find their busters or masters. They have found only their P.T. Barnums.

Europeans cannot master these new powers of technology because they take themselves too seriously and too sentimentally. Europeans cannot imagine the Earth City. They have occupied old city spaces too long to be able to sense the new spaces created by the new media.

The English have lived longer with technological culture than anybody else, but they lost their chance to shape it when the ship yielded to the plane. But the English language is already the base of all technology.

The Russians are impotent to shape technological culture because of their inwardness and grimness. The future masters of technology will have to be lighthearted; the machine easily masters the grim.

Russian austerity is based on fear of the new media and their power to transform social existence. Russia stands pat on the status quo ante 1850 that produced Marx. There culture ends. The Russian revolution reached the stage of book culture. Russian politicians have the same mentality as our professoriat: they wish technology would go away.

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