I am taking tips from grandpa ... whom the New Year finds more frail, more mad, and more outrageous than ever ...
When I arrived at the dementia centre today he was deep in sleep - his top teeth detached and filling the gap in his open mouth like some medieval portcullis dropped to repel access by invading flies. When he awakened he complained that he had been lost underground for three days with no liquids and was dying of thirst, but when I rise to get him a drink he abuses me loudly - claiming that my efforts are self-serving - designed solely to make it look like I am “Mother Theresa made flesh”.
He wants to stand up but needs help to get out of his chair, and once up struggles to persuade his feet to shuffle in sequence from the dining chair to a sofa, and he hates this new vulnerability – he reacts by cursing and berating me for being mobile – for being able to offer help. A nurse aide rescued him by suggesting he holds her hands and keeps his eyes on her nipples – lust must be one of the last memories lost in dementia - he fixed his gaze salaciously and shuffled slowly after the nipples to a nearby sofa.
Once settled on the sofa, he complains through loose dentures that “when you are at sea the structure of the cabins means it is hard to communicate meaning” - “the echoes mean you are always on the fringes of conversation” – I am sympathetic having often felt on the fringes of conversations myself – and after inventing an elaborate fabulist explanation of the rice flour grinding facilities of the flat bottom barges on the Kaipara Harbour he is exhausted and withdraws by shutting his eyes and pretending to be asleep.
And yet despite feigning fringe deafness he monitors the communications in his environment closely - somehow managing to negotiate a share of the nurse aide’s fresh oysters – and all without opening his eyes.
I am cramping his flirtation with the nurse aide - he wants me to stay and he wants me to go ... “how far away can you go?” he whispers hoarsely, “and still be in my presence?”.
Grandpa is making me think about the many ways in which we understand the communication of ideas ...
And I have been enjoying thinking about this in the context of the internet through another vacation read - Lawrence Lessig’s The Future of Ideas – The fate of the commons in a connected world .
Lessig introduces Communication Systems through Yochai Benkler’s Three Layers definition (page 11)
Physical Layer: the computer, or wires, that link computers on the Internet.
Code Layer: a “logical” or “code” layer – the code that makes the hardware run – includes protocols and software
Content: a content layer – the actual stuff that gets said or transmitted across these wires.
Explaining that each of Benkler’s layers can be seen as a resource that can be controlled or free (note commons arguments – rivalrous and non rivalrous resources), for example:
Speaker’s Corner – Content: free, Code: free, Physical :free
Madison Square Garden – Content: free, Code: free, Physical: controlled
Telephone system – Content: free, Code: controlled, Physical : controlled.
Cable TV – Content: controlled, Code: controlled, Physical: controlled
Reading Lessig makes me wish I’d had this thinking when I was trying to explain why the walled classrooms of LMS left me cold. But more significantly I realise that the communication analogy works with Grandpa - the physical wiring of grandpa’s brain and even the code layer and linguistic protocols are becoming increasingly controlled by his dementia – and given the progressive nature of the cognitive breakdown – it is inevitable that in time the content will also be under the ownership control of the dementia – cable TV approaches.
I’d always quite liked the new ways of looking at collaboration and authorship to communicate new ideas provided by Lev Manovich’s take on new media in the early 2000’s
New media culture brings with it a number of new models of authorship which all involve different forms of collaboration. Of course, collaborative authorship is not unique to new media: think of medieval cathedrals, traditional painting studios which consisted from a master and assistants, music orchestras, or contemporary film productions which, like medieval cathedrals involve thousands of people collaborating over a substantial period of time. In fact, romantic model of a solitary single author occupies a very small place in the history of human culture. New media, however, offers some new variations on the previous forms of collaborative authorship.
(1) Collaboration of different individuals and/or groups.
(2) Interactivity as collaboration between the author and the user.
(3) Authorship as selection from a menu.
(4) Collaboration between a company and the users.
(5) Collaboration between the author and the software.
(7) Sampling: New Collage?
(8) Open Source Model
But this breakdown failed to address the very real issues of copyright online that challenge our teachers and students, which is why I have enjoyed the following collaborative content classification of online videos from Recut, Reframe, Recycle: Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video
Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, co-director of the American University School of Communication law school’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property, have a study suggesting that “many uses of copyrighted material in today’s online videos are eligible for fair use consideration”.
They identify “nine kinds of uses of copyrighted material, ranging from incidental (a video maker’s family sings “Happy Birthday”) to parody (a Christian takeoff on the song “Baby Got Back”) to pastiche and collage (finger-dancing to “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”) that “creatively use copyrighted materials in ways that are eligible for fair use consideration under copyright law.”
1. Parody and satire: Copyrighted material used in spoofing of popular mass media, celebrities or politicians (Baby got Book)
2. Negative or critical commentary: Copyrighted material used to communicate a negative message (Metallica Sucks)
3. Positive commentary: Copyrighted material used to communicate a positive message (Steve Irwin Fan Tribute)
4. Quoting to trigger discussion: Copyrighted material used to highlight an issue and prompt public awareness, discourse (Abstinence PSA on Feministing.com)
5. Illustration or example: Copyrighted material used to support a new idea with pictures and sound (Evolution of Dance)
6. Incidental use: Copyrighted material captured as part of capturing something else (Prisoners Dance to Thriller)
7. Personal reportage/diaries: Copyrighted material incorporated into the chronicling of a personal experience (Me on stage with U2 … AGAIN!!!)
8. Archiving of vulnerable or revealing materials: Copyrighted material that might have a short life on mainstream media due to controversy (Stephen Colbert’s Speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner)
9. Pastiche or collage: Several copyrighted materials incorporated together into a new creation, or in other cases, an imitation of sorts of copyrighted work (Apple Commercial)
Is no wonder that I continue to find myself on the fringes of conversations online and offline ... there are so many things to think about in this – and I am uncertain how best to connect them for our cluster teachers so that they escape the echoes in the cabin ..