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The Media

Carping Over Creative Commons 276

Posted by michael
from the self-proving-thesis dept.
scubacuda writes "Arnold Kling, in his article, Content is Crap, writes, 'While there are many Net-heads who share Dan Gillmor's [and Larry Lessig's] enthusiasm for Creative Commons, I do not. It has little or no significance, because it is based on a strikingly naive 60's-retro ideological view of how content intermediaries function.' He compares artists' works to, well, raw sewage that publishers filter into something that can be later consumed by the public. 'What Creative Commons lets you do as an author is label your stuff before you flush it down the toilet.' Kling points to Bayesian Intermediaries (filters based on flexible keyword weights and 'trained' by user preferences) and weblogs as good ways to filter out the drivel that many content creators produce. (Dan Gilmore and Siva Vaidhayanatha respond, to which Kling responds in his blog."
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Carping Over Creative Commons

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  • by sbwoodside (134679) <sbwoodside@yahoo.com> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:09PM (#5089247) Homepage
    I would add an additional BSD-like clause that the name of the contributors cannot be used to promote the work:

    * Neither the name of the nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

    I don't know why the CC people didn't include something like this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:17PM (#5089316)
    I see the point about how companies filter things and add value.

    The million dollar question would then be using his medaphore. When the stuff coming out of the filter tastes like shit, shouldn't someone replace it?

    My main complaint with the ideas is this. The music industry does not filter out the 'bad' music it only filter out the different stuff. The only thing the systems as it stands today gaurentees is homogeny. I'd prefer to sift through all the 'bad' music if I could cling to the hope that there might be more 'good' stuff out there as well.
  • by Otter (3800) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:19PM (#5089333) Journal
    (My favorite part of Tech Central Station is the author pictures. They're like those tech books, WROX, I think, with the author photos on the cover that look _exactly_ like you'd expect the authors of "SOAP, COM and ASP with XML and XSLT" to look. The TCS authors look exactly like the nerdy, 30-40-something fire-breathing libertarians I'd imagine them as. Of course, their work and tax money make it possible for people with better haircuts to tell us what to do, so I feel guilty making fun of them.)

    Anyhow, while I think he's right to object to the notion that publishers are simply vampires extorting money from noble artists, it's extremely incomplete to say that they're valuable primarily as filters. They do add value that way, but that's the role that's the easiest for the public to fill.

    The more important things they do are developing and polishing musicians, editing books, creating the financial and organizational infrastructure to make major movies. His plan does nothing to address that.

  • Meta-blog (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MrWa (144753) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:22PM (#5089357) Homepage
    So is Slashdot becoming a meta-blog?
  • by Hayzeus (596826) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:23PM (#5089366) Homepage
    I think the role of the publisher (at least in the case of tech books) has been overstated. We were published by a major house (McGraw-Hill), and their role has been limited essentially to cover artwork and marketing. Not to knock the importance of marketing, but there it is.

    On the other hand, we were entirely responsible for all artwork, text, and any major editing.

    An outside compositor was hired (at MH's expense) to do layout and a bit of editing, although this was done working closely with us, and was primarily related to missing figures, a bit of proofreading, etc. The bottom line is that had we been willing to do the work of the compositor, which was basically formatting, we wouldn't have needed the publisher at all to produce the final content. Even the actual printing is contracted out.

    In our case, it is the publishers primary job to market the book, not to tweak the content.

  • by redbeard_ak (542964) <redbeard&riseup,net> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:40PM (#5089468) Homepage
    I'd agree with Kline on one hand that Sturgeon's Law is being enforced - 90 percent of everything is crap. [suite101.com]

    However, the notion that publishers are filtering with my best interests in mind is also part of that 90 percent.Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting [fair.org]

    And beyond that even, I'd have to say that one man's treasure is another man's garbage. [slashdot.org]

  • by ZoneGray (168419) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:51PM (#5089525) Homepage
    Well, I don't think you could build much of a publishing company based on the material in the -1 posts. Perhaps Gilmor will give it a go.

    But in reality, /. does have two valuable filtering functions in place; there's user moderation, of course, and there's the fact that only a few people are allowed to post stories in the first place. It was the user moderation that first caught my attention, since it's pretty effective at filtering completely worthless content (as opposed to filtering stuff that I simply disagree with). Likewise, even though I may think they're shallow, self-important, and ideologically confused, the /. editors manage to present a site that has a distinct personality. Soul, if you will.

    This is one of the things that bugs me about Google News... yes, it does a great job of aggregating links to news stories. But there's no people behind it, and it feels that way when when I look through it.
  • by Mantrid (250133) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:56PM (#5089564) Journal
    Heh, so he's created a "Bayesian Push Filter" for /.? Better get a patent on that process!! Hmmm that's all we need - picture a Bayesian filter app, built with spyware that sends its info back to homebase, so they can sell spammers ways to trick us into reading their spam!

  • value (Score:3, Interesting)

    by simpl3x (238301) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @03:59PM (#5089593)
    the publisher take such a huge portion of the final value, that one has to beg the question, why? of course warner brothers creates value, but in my opinion, drag city creates more value, because they show me things that warner brothers never will. why? because they are operating on a mass produced, scarcity driven idealogy. we do want filters, we just don't want smart-ass filters that take over the primary asset and make extraordinary demands. there are new filters being born. and they will change the market in unanticipated ways. copy right is simply being used by the old manufacturers and distributors to retain their market. this is wrong! but, as another poster has commented, the work supplied by the "arstist" is rarely the finished work! thoughts?
  • by 6hill (535468) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @04:05PM (#5089642)
    This is one of the things that bugs me about Google News... yes, it does a great job of aggregating links to news stories. But there's no people behind it, and it feels that way when when I look through it.

    Of course, this can be seen as a benefit, too. No person's views and unconscious bias are inflicted on you; instead, you get all available sources and opinions presented as equals in their worthiness. Then it's the reader's task to make an educated judgement of the issue, as free of editorial bias as possible. It requires critical reading skills, but I personally prefer to chew my own news, as opposed to digesting ready-chewed stuff.

  • Re: Nice Strawman (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bloody Peasant (12708) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @04:21PM (#5089754) Homepage
    The CC license is more about protecting the authors whose work doesn't attract the interest of traditional publishers (because the work is not polished, not economically viable, whatever)...

    In my experience (and I have an interest in a small publisher [coachlightpress.com]), most mainstream (read: large, established, monolithic) publishers are rejecting work because it doesn't conform to a rather dull, stale, old recipe. And much of what they do publish is very definitely "not polished" and quite often not economically viable. For books, the editing process seems to have been horribly compromised, probably because of cost cutting.

    In My Humble Opinion, it's the mainstream content publishers that are using spin doctors to belittle and demean the concept of a Creative Commons. It's in their selfish (and greedy) interests to do so. Those of us interested in the CC should ignore them and get on with what we want to do!

  • Re:Do we need this? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jbolden (176878) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @04:38PM (#5089863) Homepage
    That would work except that I'm talking about how I acquire the digital songs. I can't make a mix with music I don't have.

    As for popularity and quality; I think popularity within a correct subgroup isn't a bad measure. That correct subgroup may not be "US total sales" (though for me with respect to music it actually works pretty well but I've got mainstream musical taste). For example you might like "Total sales within Jazz, or college radio playlist or...". Finding the right population for prefiltering is much easier than doing your own filtering.
  • by pr0t0plasm (183810) <pr0t0plasm@lERDO ... g minus math_god> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @04:51PM (#5089948) Homepage
    The influence of publichers over content is not an entirely bad thing, as Kling points out. However, the substantial influence that publishers have over content can be and is abused, especially due to the incentive for publishers to steer the content market toward material it can cheaply, easily publish. This seems more intuitive in music than in writing, but I think it applies in both arenas: crap is easy to find, so if you can popularize crap, you don't have to invest in cultivating relationships with producers, you can just find some hack to fill out the formula and pass the savings on to the customer. The trouble is that rather than charge extra for the good stuff to offset the extra cost of development and promotion, many publishers offer uniform pricing and choose not to distribute material requiring a harder sell.

    Kling manages to miss that that last sentence is what the CC aims to address. If that undercuts publishers, they have no one to blame but themselves.
  • by jonathan_ingram (30440) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @05:06PM (#5090042) Homepage
    AlterSlash [alterslash.org] seems to do a very good job of filtering out the drivel from Slashdot.
  • by cyberon22 (456844) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @05:14PM (#5090093)
    I highly doubt this guy has ever read Lessig, or even understands what he means by a "creative commons".

    Traditional economic arguments in favor of IPR assert that without them there will be no good content in the first place, since authors have little incentive to produce work.

    But if ALL "content is crap", there is no justification for intellectual property protection in the first place. If the world gets BAD content by paying for it, and BAD content by not paying for it, the economically optimal solution is to have BAD content for FREE!

    The discussion of Bayesian networks is completely irrelevant since what is at stake is a more fundamental assertion about how and why individuals innovate.

    Score: Kling 0, Lessig 1.
  • by rhadamanthus (200665) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @05:31PM (#5090193)
    "While there is some truth in that of course, it is only part of the truth. The much larger truth is that without the content, the publisher has nothing, ZERO, zilch."

    Sorry, but that depends entirely on the 'publisher' in question. The RIAA, for example, got around this nasty problem by conglomerating many companies into one 'Association' and then making it cumpolsory for content creators to sign over their works in exchange for publication, thus making the publishers the temporary 'owners' of the content, and the associated revenue. Lawrence Lessig, in The Future of Ideas quoted the founder of MP3.com (whom I forget-but is now at Lindows) who was barraged by RIAA types who could not understand why MP3.com did not demand ownership of new artist's works before 'publishing' the music. The quote (paraphrased from memory) was something like:

    "Why are you helping the next Madonna without owning the next Madonna first?!"

    You are correct in saying that the the middleman should be put back in his/her place, but they have a lot more clout -- reference MP3.com's collapse...

    ---rhad

  • Re:Sewage?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by susano_otter (123650) on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @06:52PM (#5090707) Homepage
    You are still wrapped up in the idea of physical publishing.

    Okay, but I'm not wrapped up in the idea of physical publishing. May I transition your points back into the digital-network arena?

    Physically producing a book is a difficult task that requires time and money...

    So is digitally producing a book, but the cost is distributed differently.

    ...but writing a book only needs a talented author and some friends who are willing to proof read.

    Writing a book only needs a monkey and a typewriter. Writing a good book needs a "talented author". Typically, it also needs a talented editor, and not simply "some friends who are willing to proofread". So right there we see two things: First, that simply authoring content doesn't guarantee the quality of that content. Second, a good editor is part of the process--a vital part currently supplied by the publisher. So it seems that publishers do provide a useful service. And since neither writing nor editing are limited to the physical realm, there doesn't seem to be any reason why the publishers shouldn't continue to add some of the same value in the digital arena as they do in the physical arena.

    But what value could they add? Well, there's the aforementioned editing, which is pretty important. We can probably discard the actual "publishing" value-add, since digital networks pretty much take care of that already. But digital publishing tools and management systems will undoubtedly become more important as time goes on, so that may change.

    Then there's marketing, which is the process by which publishers attempt to alert you to works you wouldn't necessarily become aware of or know how to find on your own. On the Internet, of course, we have the opposite problem: all the content is readily available and easily found. Instead of marketing, a process of pushing new content on us; we need filtering, a process of blocking the unneeded, unwanted, or otherwise valueless content. This is what Kling is talking about: filtering adds value to content, by sorting it into "valuable/not valuable" categories. I don't know about you, but I want the most efficent, most effective content filters I can get. The first company to meet that need will dominate the digital publishing world, as well it should. It will be adding quite a lot of value to the growing ocean of content, after all.

  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 15, 2003 @07:01PM (#5090754) Homepage Journal
    If Creative Commons is so useless/pointless/stupid/whatever, why not let the market decide? It seems like this guy is just knifing the baby. Let's give CC some exposure and see if consumers (aka the public) and content producers (aka artists and writers) like the approach.

    Sharpshooting CC in its infancy makes me think this guy is just afraid of change.

    Who's afraid of the Creative Commons?

  • by niminimi (541436) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @04:22AM (#5092905)
    Consider the set of pieces of content, each identified by an url. Now map the urls into a (potentially) infinite-dimensional vector space of finite subsets of (Strings x Reals). Just give some url some finite number of pairs (keyword, rating). This act may be called rating or moderating of content. If a keyword doesn't get a value, let it be zero. Suppose you and your friends do that. Now you want your ratings to depend on your friends ratings, and your friend may want her ratings to depend on yours. To make things simple, let these dependencies be linear. So we have a digraph of people and a linear map for each arrow. The nodes are where these ratings are summed together. A sufficient condition for the system to settle (to converge) is that the maps in the arrows be contractions ("of absolute value less than one"). Just as in real life, your objects of interest would (and should) depend on your friends' ones.

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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