[iDC] The Future of the Humanities

Janet Hawtin lucychili at gmail.com
Tue Jul 12 07:05:41 UTC 2011

On Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 4:05 AM, Douglas Sery <dsery at mit.edu> wrote:

> I am going to try and continue to work with authors toward the goal of
> making their ideas more accessible, knowing full well that it won’t always
> be possible. So be it. But if the concerns expressed by some in this thread
> are to be addressed in a positive way, then changes are going to be need to
> be made in the way they communicate.

I apologise I am very likely to be one of the posters contributing
questions which are improbable or naïve.

I have watched processes where my country was changing its domestic
copyright law as a prerequisite of trade negotiations with the USA,
and the USA apparently required for us not to have fair use rights.
This was a comment made on a list which was discussing this topic at
the time:

On Fri, May 1, 2009 at 9:52 AM, Jeffrey A. Williams
<jwkckid1 at ix.netcom.com> wrote:

> Americans interests in this instance should come first but in a fair way with our Trading partners around the world.

I still feel that this is a warped way to negotiate copyright law
which should be about how people can work with information regardless
of their location.
Subjective advantage seems to be louder than good law from a civil perspective.

I also watched people express concern about divided interests when
deciding about whether ooxml should be an open standard. It was a
format which was not legally safe for developers to use as an open
standard so the civil choice seemed straightforward but there were
corporate perspectives which also had a lot of pull. At least one
nation involved in the process withdrew from the process because the
voting meeting was stacked with corporate representatives. Safe
standard formats for sharing information are a civil good.

The return of the question of rights for broadcasters at the UN is
another concerning example where corporate interests would like to
become the owners of material which they transmit, to have property
rights over the signal, compromising the rights of those who would
otherwise own the material.

This is why I found Manuel Castell's video interesting and why I
wonder about whether our social structures are effective for producing
outcomes which have sound ecological or social outcomes. The mechanics
of negotiation, the power in digital and social networks do not feel


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