Posts Tagged ‘sharing’

cyclists are commies

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Bixis everywhere for all...

Imagine a city dotted with rental bike stations… where bike lanes lead in nearly every direction… protected from traffic, with cement barriers, ploughed for year-round access… smartly done too… some lanes with removable poles, so that the road can be used for parking and snow clearing during winter… with networks extended by painted lanes, like in other cities… the biking network extends everywhere.

Imagine this bike rental service being affordable and easy, thrilling and useful… and you have Montréal’s BIXI network.

Bikes are revolutionary. There are more people on bikes in Montréal now than I can ever remember from living there for seven years. Bikes are changing the patterns of circulation within the city. The city itself is changing. With many streets of Montréal routinely closed for summer festivals, the car is shortly becoming a liability within the downtown area.

And people are everywhere. And they smile. They’re happier… and becoming fitter.

Happy people on bikes don’t feel isolated. They feel part of something. Cyclists feel part of the city around them, which is theirs. And this is why they don’t vote for xenophobic policies. They vote for people who like people on bikes, which means supporting the environment we all live in through policies that look at the city as a holistic environment, a complex and thriving ecosystem, and not just a traffic thoroughfare with a series of linked parking lots.

Unlike Vancouver, the political fallout of BIXI in Montréal has been minimal. Vancouver has an organised business organisation trying to undermine cyclists, trying to do away with all bike lanes. The Vancouver Board of Trade and the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association rejects bike lanes because they impede the flow of traffic, disrupting the “traffic network” and “hurting the bottom line of business” by removing automobile parking.

Cars, traffic, parking. Apparently this is a machine that need not require humans. It would be easier to eliminate the flesh entirely, were it not for the economic placeholder in which flesh consumes flesh. Placing humans into isolated metal boxes produces a significant distancing effect, enough to block the sensory perception of a complex and ever-changing environment. The taste and feel of a place are kept at bay. Immersed in the box, in the screen, my car is a just like a videogame.

Never step out of your car save to shop. Never bike on the road—you might get hit. Drive a bigger SUV to keep safer. Buckle your kids in with crash helmets. Only crazy people bike. You are not like them. They are outside the window. The window is a movie screen. The city passes by like a movie made just for you, but interactive, like a videogame. The best interactive game ever. A cyclist interrupts that drowsy flow. Swerve and negotiate. How dare they bike in traffic! Hold on now. Something is going awry… a light blinks… you need new pharmaceuticals. The haze of dumb acceptance is wearing off. Anger and frustration are coming. You have to watch out for “pedestrians” and “cyclists.” The laws won’t change until next week… then you can run them over and collect the reward points. More petropoints. Park over there, step out, and buy something. Some more pills. Mmm. A new shiny thing. A greasy thing. Eat and swallow. Don’t move too fast. You might have a heart attack. The doctor gave you pills for that. Get back in. Drive away.

What the grey room wants is unhappy, isolated and cloistered individuals, getting fat off bad foods, polluting the atmosphere in their cars. The grey room of control, mute in their deadness, amassing piles of coin. Cyclists are the enemy. Why? Because unhappy people buy more consumerist crap as a band-aid solution for their constant depression. They wallow in a potpourri of pharmacopia. They burn more fuel. They support bad business in their despair. The car is an isolating, depressing way to travel through the city… a beautiful, seductive ride. Step right in. Never leave.

In Montréal, on the contrary, cyclists are seen as the people they are. Cars don’t buy things. People do. And people, given the chance, will ride bikes, and invest in good things. People on bikes change economies, patterns of consumption and circulation, which is precisely why they are a threat to the established order of consumer complacency.

Because there is nothing more beautiful than biking home with the wind…

Sounds all too simplistic, eh? Indeed. It can be.

Heard on CBC Vancouver this morning from the right-wing “develop it all” and anticyclist NPA — “we shouldn’t focus on becoming a green city — we already have green industries — forestry (which is a renewable resource)… and mining.”

When will Vancouver finally cast out these rejects?

Montréal is decades ahead. May Québec nationalism never die. For it provides the bonds of a collectivism that has all but been eradicated in the rest of Canada—or manipulated into isolated xenophobia, such as with Rob Ford’s Toronto Fat City, where bike lanes are being ripped out so as to save the city “billions” in lost consumer spending. Remember, getting somewhere in a car is the only metric of happiness. Happiness is only measured in spending. Spending is all that matters. Spend some more. Take another pill. Keep on drivin’.

Cyclists are commies.

from the ashes: counter-file the DMCA

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Recently, I had a draft copy of a published article removed from Scribd. The article, Turn/Stile: Remixing Udo Kasemet’s CaleNdarON, had been published in excerpted form in Leonardo Music Journal (13, 2003) and in full form in the February 2004 edition of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac. However for many years it had been offline, with its original URL long dead. For these reasons I had personally archived not the final published copy but my Word document on Scribd—that is until a DMCA letter from the invisible lawyers over at MIT Press forced Scribd to remove the document. Needless to say I was flabbergasted that an academic press would be removing an author’s archives from the web when, as a Press, it had failed to provide legacy access to its published archives. You can read the details here.

Two weeks ago I emailed off a counter-file DMCA notice to Scribd and to MIT Press’ legal team. Just yesterday I received the following from Scribd:

What this probably means is that the two week window for a legal response has passed, and by default I’ve won this round. We’ll see what happens next.

The article is now back online at Scribd: “Turn/Stile: Remixing Udo Kasemet’s CaleNdarON“.

Two awesome things have come out of this intriguing episode:

(1) Counter-file DMCA notices (sometimes) work.

(2) I entered into a very enlightening and revealing conversation with the Editor-in-Chief of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac, Lanfranco Aceti. We discussed various options for republishing, including his team’s efforts to convert the LEA archives to Kindle, and the ups/downs of Amazon’s closed, proprietary format (for the record, I’m in favour of OpenLib and/or PDF, at least). We also talked about micropayment systems and the difficulty of managing hundreds of authors in such a system while acknowledging something of the necessity of doing so. From this conversation, something of an edited exchange will be published over on the LEA blog. I’ll keep you posted.

.. // ../ ..

21C book burning: Scribd & the DMCA

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

\ I’m not sure what to say about this, considering that the essay existed in PDF form not from Leonardo but from my own Word document. Leonardo never even gave me a PDF, nor a Galley proof, for that matter. Is it Leonardo / MIT Press that is blanket-searching Scribd for phrases that may correspond to their own published material?

If so, I never signed over copyright to them [see below]—I wasn’t paid for this piece, nor was it printed on paper. It was relegated to an abstract at the back of the printed Journal, with the piece distributed over email and online. It lacked proper formatting and remained generally unread because of its poor presentation. From what I remember of discussions with other authors, those of us who were “bumped” in this manner were not impressed. This is precisely why I am behind cracking open the locked vaults of academic knowledge. Enough overpaid subscriptions to ivory towers. Viva Open Access Publishing!

As far as I am concerned, this is censorship—not of the malicious, targeted-kind,  as if I am spreading some kind of samizdat here, but of the dumb, computers-are-fucking-us-over-kind, aided & abetted by some lawyer somewhere who is currently earning more than all the authors he is screwing-blind combined. Thus I proudly present the paper in its pirate lair, where it has been drinking merrily for years:

Turn/Stile: Remixing Udo Kasemets’ CaleNdarON

Leonardo Music Journal 13; Leonardo Electronic Almanac: Groove Pit and Wave. MIT P: 2003/2004.

The more these commercial distribution services like Youtube, Soundcloud, etc, pander to blanket-DMCA requests generated by some robot somewhere, the more it forces a redistribution into decentralized nodes of underground information. Just imagine—in the future, you won’t even be able to use citation on a blog as the Internet Robot will immediately recognise the use of someone’s words without permission. (Remember, Hallmark owns the copyright to “Happy Birthday”…).

Think it won’t happen? Think again. Because when machines do the reading, they don’t think—they just execute a binary decision based upon a percentile of a parameter matched. Think about that. The technocracy is indeed a troubling concern.


23 March 2011: An update–see my counter-file DMCA notice. I did sign over copyright to ISAST, but I retain specific rights which, as I interpret it, include publishing the article in my own “anthology” on Scribd. For what it’s worth, I don’t think I’d sign such a broad agreement today for an unpaid piece that does not guarantee (a) a publication format; (b) reversion of rights to author should the Press fail to keep the work in print;  (c) renumeration rights for paid electronic distribution services (i.e. Kindle); and (d) the right to electronically distribute for educational and academic purposes (not just “photocopy” for teaching—note  the imbalance of rights, where the publisher retains all future-forward electronic rights of distribution while the author can only photocopy as a means of distributing their own article for teaching purposes!). From the Publication Agreement:

Agreement:  We are pleased to have the privilege of publishing your Article in a forthcoming issue of  Leonardo Music Journal. By your signature below, you hereby grant all your right, title, and interest including copyright for the text, layout, and image placement of the Article, to The International Society for the Arts Sciences and Technology (ISAST).

Rights Reserved by Author: You hereby retain and reserve for yourself a non-exclusive license: 1.) to photocopy the Article for use in your own teaching activities as long as the article is not offered for sale, and 2.) to publish the Article, or permit it to be published, as a part of any book you may write, or in any anthology of which you are an editor, in which the Article is included or which expands or elaborates on the Article, unless the anthology is drawn primarily from Leonardo Music Journal.  As a condition of reserving this right, you agree that MIT Press and Leonardo Music Journal will be given first publication credit, and proper copyright notice will be displayed on the work (both on the work as a whole and, where applicable, on the Article as well) whenever such publication occurs.

It’s worth reiterating that I gave MIT Press free content. Their DMCA shennanigans strikes at the very core of why academics publish: to see the work distributed and archived. To this end, MIT Press is not meeting its obligations, as the content is no longer available online. This is the link provided for the article; it no longer exists:

So after failing to distribute and archive the article, MIT Press then strikes it off the Net with a DMCA. Why? I believe the answer is here:

With the re-launch of the Leonardo Electronic Almanac (LEA) we inherited a rich historical collection of writings and thematic issues that spans twenty years.

Historical collections, particularly historical collections of digital media hosted over the Internet, have had a tendency to disappear with the closure of a server or to be left abandoned on a database hosted on the hard drive of a dusty computer in the department of a university. The editorial choice for LEA was not simply that of re-presenting the same material, but to propose to the academic, artistic and scientific communities to re-engage with issues and themes 20 years later. The idea is to develop new discourses, re-attempt to put to rest old diatribes and to engage with the developments in the field of the interactions between art, science and technology.

The editorial choice I made was to collect the old material and make it available on Kindle, remediating the old format and rekindling old arguments and passions by finalizing arguments that appear to no longer have relevance and by breathing new life in to historical subject areas that are still relevant today, picking up from the threads left by the pioneers and commentators of the recent past.  [Lanfranco Aceti, Editor-in-Chief, LEA]

What does this mean? It means that Leonardo/MIT Press/ISAST failed to keep up their end of the publishing contract, which is to maintain the electronic source online. Since they’ve now repackaged the lot and published it with Kindle, they’ve got the lawyers hopping across the internets striking down the content that authors have since self-published or otherwise distributed due to the complete failure of LEA to maintain a proper digital archive.

And that, my friends, is why closed academic publishing in a digital, online environment is a complete mistake. Don’t sign such agreements. Renegotiate. Nobody wants their work locked up on some “dusty computer in the department of a university”, which is precisely what the LEA has done. Republishing on Kindle is not sufficient, in my opinion, to uphold the original contract, which called for online publication in the Journal. So where are the LEA’s archives? Why is content dating back to the early ’90s being sold when the content was never paid for to begin with? Why isn’t the LEA making such content free and open to the public?



pirate librarians.

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009
capitalizing on the library pirate.

capitalizing on the library pirate.

The rate of piracy and cloning ensures, despite copyright protections, the rapid diffusion of ever new products. Their real economic interest lies in achieving mass use of their products, which requires a certain level of initiation on the part of potential consumers. The example of the first public libraries at the end of the 18th century can help us to understand this apparently paradoxical phenomenon. At first, the opening of the first public libraries was seen by book publishers as a serious threat to their profits. But afterwards, free access to reading led to the massification of the publishing market well beyond the initial portion of readers/consumers to whom publishers sold their books, as they exercised a monopoly based on the cost of production. We now know that the monopolistic control of book readers is no longer exercised on the basis of the costs of production and sales but on control over distribution, of the organization of access to knowledge in general. (Marazzi, Capital and Language 95)

The predicament of the music & film industry today – or rather any industry in which the object can be not only easily digitalized & cloned, but then disseminated  – could perhaps learn something from  book publishers of the 18th century. While the case for sharing one’s property in the 21C usually cite  the ‘home taping’ debates of the ’80s (whether cassette tapes or VCRs), the historical precedent stretches into the history of knowledge itself, and its most pointed moments arise in the production of that which tends towards the intangible: the text. (Music, as film, remains a text in this sense.)