I would like to start off by telling you a story. This is a story about what Shirky talked about in an excerpt of Here Comes Everybody. He wrote about the six degrees of separation between people, and how even when we can’t imagine knowing anyone on that plane, just the fact that you are leaving the same airport means you will have common connections. My little story is about chance, odds, and finding someone in this world of six billion people.
It was in the middle of June, and I was staying in Boone for Orientation. I would be a freshman in the fall. As I sat in my departmental meeting on the first day, someone in the classroom of twenty brought up the topic of intramurals. This was before the Professor came in so I was only talking to the few people around me. I said “I want to start an intramural volleyball team!” A girl sitting to my right, whom I had not really noticed or been directing my sentence to, perked up and spun around. “Me too!” I had never played volleyball in my life, but wanted to learn. Her name was Molly. She had played through middle school and high school and had a real passion for it. For the rest of the day we stayed close, exploring campus and becoming friends. It is very common that you never see “orientation friends” again. Sometimes even the friends from year to year disappear from your life. Not Molly.
Molly heard me say my last name to someone else we were talking to. She was astonished “I was supposed to find you!” Molly’s grandmother was a patient of my Dad, an eye doctor. She had recently had an appointment and they talked about their girls who were going off to Appalachian. Molly and her grandmother are from 30 minutes away from where I live. She drove thirty minutes away for her eye appointments because my Dad actually started his business 25 years ago in their small home town. Her grandmother told Molly to look out for me, but out of all the orientations that summer, and all the people at each orientation, really; what were the odds?
It gets weirder. Molly is no longer in the same department as me. If she had not been in that departmental meeting we might not have ever met. If I had not had a weird excitement to learn a sport I never played, we might not have ever met. Three years later Molly and I are roommates. Her roommate/best friend of two years and my roommate/best friend transferred from App in the same year (they have never met). One year ago, Molly and I found out we share the exact same birthday: March 19th 1991. Not only that, but we were born within an hour of each other, by the same team of doctors at the same hospital. I always say to Molly if she was a guy I would know she is “the one”.
Shirky states that “Once you’ve understood this pattern-which a larger network is a sparsely linked group of more densely linked sub-networks you can see how it could operate at multiple scales. You could tie several few-person networks together into a network of networks. Connections in these larger networks are still between individual people, but now those individuals have become even more critical; in fact, the larger the network is, the more important the highly connected individuals are in holding the overall structure together. Even at seemingly absurd extremes, the pattern holds: random pairs of people from New York City, a pool of millions, are likelier to be connected in a shorter chain”(2008).
So we are all a whole lot more connected than we think we are. Social networks such as facebook really bring those connections to realization, now you can see all the mutual friends you have with some “random person”. And everything put on the internet, I believe, truly is/should be considered a published work. Publishing it to all these people you have connections with that you don’t even really know. I absolutely agree with Shirky when he wrote “is that in an age of infinite perfect copy-ability to many people at once, the very act of writing and sending an e-mall can be a kind of publishing, because once an e-mail is sent, it is almost impossible to destroy all the copies, and anyone who has a copy can broadcast it to the world at will, and with ease. Now, and presumably from now on, the act of creating and circulating evidence of wrongdoing to more than a few people, even if they all work together, will be seen as a delayed but public act”(2008).
The movie “Rip! A Remix Manefesto” showed that the internet was created for the purpose of sharing! We are free to share, for the most part. But we have to be careful of what we publish, what we are putting our name or our face on and sending out into the internet, for all sorts of people to see and maybe even take if they are able to.
I believe the core problem with copyright infringement, plagiarism, and pirating is the fact that we are able to do it so easily, and we will. It really is as simple as “copy and paste”. If a photographer wants credit for a photo, put your name on, and don’t publish it where someone can easily take it. There are many sites such as Flickr that are safe, and sometimes the copy/paste option is disabled and all it pastes is the link to the site – brilliant! “One way to increase visibility and access to your photos is to share it with an existing community that has enabled CC licensing, making it easy for you to indicate the license along with other information, such as who to attribute. In addition, search engines like Google and Yahoo! will index your work as CC licensed if the metadata is properly attached.” (Creative Commons 2012) Music is another big topic; it is so easy to never pay for a single song. But honestly, we’re not reselling these songs; we just want to listen to them in our cars! I really do battle back and forth with this issue, because the artist really should get the credit and earnings for the song, but don’t they make enough already? Do I really need to give you another $1.29 not even to say that I own it, just to listen to it on my iPod?
In a scenario where the technological world was a better place, people would share as the internet was meant to be shared. It wouldn’t be considered stealing to listen to a new song or copy and paste an image. Everyone in this world appreciates the work of the creator, and the people viewing understand we did not create this work but want to share it anyways. If creators really wanted to protect their work, they wouldn’t put it on the internet! And if you were to put something of your creation on the internet, go through the precautions to keep it safe. In this world, money and profit is not the object, but creating the work to share with others, and for those others to share with other others, that is the goal.
In this world, the internet would be like a modern art gallery in New York City. You walk through, admire, and talk about it with your friends. You never take the art off the wall and walk out with it. That is just rude! To truly ‘share’; to show everyone you know (meaning bring them to the art not take it to them), to give credit where credit is due, and to appreciate the beauty of another person’s work, that would be the perfect scenario.
I believe technology can accomplish this by having certain constraints. Photographers can attain the feature that block the copy/paste action, and they can also always put their name or logo on every photo. I believe a technological example a more perfect scenario is Pinterest. Pinterest allows each user to admire different photos, and “Pin” them on a virtual board as you would a bulletin board. Pinterest makes me feel like I’ve discovered a great work of art everytime I log in. The beauty of it is, if you click the photo, it goes directly to who originally pinned it and what website it came from – originally. I think its genius! This is an example of how technology and the internet can come a little bit closer to making the world a better place.
“RIP: A Remix Manifesto” (2008)
Shirky, C. (2008). Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations (pp. 47-80). New York: Penguin Group
Lainer, J. (2010). You are not a Gadget. New York: Alfred Knopf.
Creative Commons: Case Studies – http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Photography