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Youtube vs. transformative works

How I fought against a Youtube takedown and eventually won. The creator of a political remix vid criticising the under-representation of women in video games tells how her video was removed as “inappropriate content”, and how she fought back with the help of the New Media Rights group. (Via Laura Shapiro.)

YouTube needs a process (a transparent one even) informing us if our videos have been removed, why they have been removed and how we can file a dispute. It is absurd that I had to find a lawyer who had to contact YouTube’s lawyers just to get my 1 min video, which was wrongfully removed in the first place, back on YouTube.

Wikipedia and women

Last week, the New York Times published an article about the gender gap in Wikipedia editors. Sue Gardner, the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, has a great link roundup of posts relating to the subject.

Related: My friend Shane has launched WikiProject Women’s History, to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of women in history.

Anyone can participate, but I’d particularly love to see more professional scholars get involved. I know that there’s significant opposition to Wikipedia in some academic quarters, but I think that the information there isn’t going to get better unless people who actually know this stuff start pitching in. I’d really like WikiProject Women’s History to deploy a good quality scale that helps our students evaluate whether the material in any given entry is trustworthy for their own research. And, as I’ve already said, I think that competent undergrads can be involved in this work very fruitfully as a learning project.

“Open stuff”

What is the Open Web and why is it important? Posted in 2008, this article touches on many of the underlying principles behind “open stuff” (which I posted about a week or so back).

Tim Bray posted a set of links to political articles that he’d recently appreciated. One of these, The Very Big Picture by Matthew Yglesias, is worth quoting at length:

In other words, people are step-by-step liberating themselves not from market capitalism as a means of obtaining consumer goods but from wage slavery in the worker-capitalist relationship.

And you can see that the basic architecture of this trend is fiercely and passionately contested. When I was in Finland, where they have quite a mild right-wing, the thing that the conservative politician I spoke to seemed really upset about was the idea that Finnish kids are spending too much time in university. Too many students in college! Too many of them getting master’s degrees! Sometimes people would even take time off from their studies to travel! Here in the United States a huge swathe of the pundit class seems to deem it outrageous that the Social Security retirement age hasn’t increased as rapidly as average life expectancy. Don’t people know that they were put on this planet to work! How dare we, as a society, take some of our increased productivity in the form of an increased measure of liberation from our employers rather than more material possessions? The public, sensibly, doesn’t see it that way. When life expectancy grows faster than the retirement age, humanity is making progress.

Meanwhile, it’s more possible than ever for people’s non-commercial labors to have a meaningful impact on the world. I think open source software is exciting. I think amateur mashups are exciting. I think digital distribution of albums recorded on the cheap by people playing music for fun while holding down day jobs is exciting. I think fan fiction is exciting. I think people who work at universities and other non-profits writing blogs to inform and entertain is exciting. I think people diligently recording the progress of their neighborhood and organizing for a better city is exciting. Wikipedia is, of course, indispensable these days and Wikileaks is doing a tremendous job.

I wonder where this will take us. At the moment the cohort of people with the most opportunity to engage in non-commercial activities—retirees—is the very same cohort that’s least inclined to avail itself of digital technology.

Fannish opinion

Eruthros posts about Xena: Warrior Princess with a decade or so’s perspective, recommending it while remaining critical of its problems:

Guys, I miss that show. I miss the strange and beautiful combination of camp and wtf and tragedy and drama. I miss the women who love each other that intensely. I miss women with emotional scars. I miss (my corner of) the fandom(s) where the most common pairings were Xena/Gabrielle and Xena/Callisto and Xena/Lao Ma. I miss the working-motherhood and the fighting and the joking and the parodies and the hugs. I miss Xena singing and dancing and leaping over people’s heads, and Gabrielle hitting everyone with sticks and writing it down later. I miss their despair and their tears and their hope and their joy. I miss the anachronisms, and the giant snakes, and the people in foam monster costumes, and the centaurs filmed only from the waist up, and the styrofoam monuments they borrowed from ST:TOS, and the fight scenes that completely ignore the laws of physics. I miss Xena and Gabrielle’s determination and their anger and their laughter.

I miss two ladies riding off into the sunset together after saving the day.

(Though on the other hand I do not miss the noncon-mystical-pregnancy and the sexual assault metaphors and the Orientalism and the weird Christian season and the way Gabrielle and Xena could say they loved each other but could never actually, canonically, be sleeping together.)

Meanwhile, Thingswithwings takes on queer (in)visibility in Harry Potter, Battlestar Galactica, and Stargate: Atlantis:

Basically I’m astonished at the sheer efficacy of the Dumbledore strategy: acknowledge a queer character in an extra-textual space (the internet, interviews, webisodes, specials, outtakes) so that everyone thinks you’re super-progressive and cool and doesn’t notice that hey, you still haven’t represented any queers anywhere.

And seperis takes on that head-desk-ingly irritating Wired article about the death of geek culture in well, yeah, if by geek culture you mean men:

Let’s not romanticize the past in which we had to wait for years and go uphill both ways to get our manga, okay? That shit isn’t nostalgic; that sucked. It sucked.

[...]

You city geeks had it easy, baby; the nearest used bookstore was one almost-large room and I was buying third rate sci fi where the high point was finding Mercedes Lackey–say it with me, that was the high point–and Anne McCaffrey and God help me that shitty Thomas Covenant series that I read in desperation because it’s not like there was a lot of choice there.

[...]

Yes, yes, the icky mainstream are all making your geek all less than special; those of us who, let me say this again, were reduced to rapey incesty Thomas of white gold ringness and the Gor novels unironically shelved beside the sci-fi aisle saw the dawn of Amazon.com, hulu, and bittorrent like the second goddamn coming, okay? I waited half my life to fall madly, desperately in love with a million things and Geek!Seperis of the dark days before the internet and access to Amazon would like to say, are you kidding me?

Phew, my browser is back under control.

Mandala at Google

Random pic is random: Tibetan sand mandala in the lobby of Building 43, at Google's Mountain View campus

August 2014

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