Cultures

Within the first section of the book “Remix” the author Lessig represents his views on culture and how it works within the world of technology. Lessig talks about his own ideas about cultures past and future, using “the language of today’s computer geeks”. Part 1 of the book discusses the cultures of our past and the cultures of our future and comparing their values to the world. The author divides culture into two forms. There is RO (read-only) culture: professionally produced and characterised by control. In RO culture the produces simply record or broadcast what they hear created by others . However within RW culture (Read/Write)it emphasises  the fact that the producers are the creators. RW culture involves both professionals and amateurs who create the things we hear daily on the radio or phones.

Within the culture of the past, Lessig describes the fight which a man names Sousa put up against the fact that there weren’t enough copyright laws. At the time he was a copyright extremist due to the fact that he was an American composer who’s music was being “stolen” as before he implemented copyrights in the work he composed and arranged. This gave him complete control over the public performances of his work. The American composer believed that the future generations should never forget the traditions of the past culture. As he describes his past cultural experience “When i was a boy in front of every house in the summer evenings you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or the old songs” he explains how todays culture doesn’t sing together anymore or communicate in such harmonising ways. Instead, nowadays we listen to music on our ipods and sing alone in private. Sousa believes that its this which eliminates the process of evolution as we rely on machines and not our human spirit.

Further on, Lessig starts to introduce the cultures of our future and how he maps out the future ahead. He describes how RO cultures are being extended by the internet beyond the limits of the 20th century technology. This section describes how our “nature” in life is changing and being remade. Lessig describes how natural constrains such as the code of a cassette, which limits the amount of times it can be played, to be abolished due to the birth of digital technology. What was before both impossible and illegal is now just illegal and is being carried out by daily users across the world. The RO culture could no longer conspire the content of industries and protect the industries business. However, Steve jobs taught the world that the only nature of digital technology is that it conforms how it is coded. He further goes on to describe how the nature has changed by building new different permissions and codes which could compete against the the markets which “freely” distribute through the internet. One of the most important parts of the book is when Lessig finally explains the meaning of Remix which is the title of the book. He states that Remix is “text or beyond text, remix is a collage; it comes from combining elements of RO culture”. He goes on to describe how Remix in a community has 2 goods. 1) community which is allowed by remix to spread around the world and allows everyone to “create”. 2) education which remix creates to be more appealing and interesting to ensure people learn in a passionate way and have motifs to succeed.

In the end of the chapter on culture Lessig evaluates on the different values RO and RW cultures have on the world. RO culture aims towards professionalism and is important both in the spread of culture and knowledge. RO gives the freedom to people who want to express their artistic ability and a sense of freedom to do so. However, in RW culture, it goes on to effect the social life differently, it invites a response especially due to the fact that it is nowadays common in our society, it helps to develop a sort of knowledge that empowers as much as it informs or entertains. What Lessig really wants the readers to understand is that RO culture is important and valuable and will flourish in the digital age. Also, he states that RW culture is important and valuable and is dependant on the law whether will flourish within our world.

Written by: Jelle Debruyne

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