[NetBehaviour] Free?!

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Sat Nov 30 09:10:54 CET 2013

I was at Free?! (http://freeculture.info/) as a speaker.

The first part of the day was the brunch club.


We gathered around tables to discuss various free culture-related topics
and write notes on the tablecloths. These were later hung in the gallery
upstairs as part of the "(Mis)Interpreting Free Culture Exhibition" art
show accompanying the event. The show is excellent, with a wide range of
thought-provoking work.


I was on the "tools" table. We discussed what makes a useful free
culture tool, which came down as much to social and community
affordances as technical or legal ones. Blender's community and funding
 was repeatedly mentioned as a model. During the discussion I
encountered some excellent projects I hadn't heard of before:



The second part was the Plenary Debate, which brought together some
leading free culture film producers to discuss how they made their
projects work.


It was refreshing to hear a candid discussion of the frustrations and
strengths of crowdfunding approaches based on the long-term experience
of the panel members. Jamie King in particular communicated the
unpredictability of funding, the harsh statistics of who actually pays
for downloads, and the joys of being able to pay artists when they do.
It was also good to see the new Blender short film on a big screen
thanks to Ton Roosendaal:


The last part of the day was the "Winters Night Copyright Fairytale"
event in the evening.


This brought performances and talks on various free culture themes
together with a framing animation and narrative in the form of a fairytale.

With the benefit of hindsight I wish I'd fitted my talks more to the
fairytale theme, but I did manage to accidentally fit my slides to its
typographic style. :-)

Femke Snelting framed the story with readings from remixed newly
out-of-copyright texts by Rabindranath Tagore and Virginia Woolf made
using NLTK. Nikita Mazurov's passion for pirating movies made me wish I
could get to the London Cryptofestival today (
http://www.cryptoparty.in/london_cryptofestival ) where he's also
speaking. Paul Keller's presentation of the history and possible future
direction of Creative Commons gave me a real confidence boost in that
organization. And there was much more. The event was recorded and I
think it will be online early next year.

The slides from my talks are available here:


Free?! was very much about stepping back and taking stock of Free
Culture. I found being reminded (and helping to remind others) of the
origins and issues of Free Culture inspiring, and looking seriously at
where and how it needs to be rethought invigorating.

Do have a look at the website if you couldn't make it to the event.

- Rob.

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