Dmytri Kleiner's lecture

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Dymtri Kleiner

Kleiner started to explain how he uses some terms. Communism is a state and classless society Capitalism is a way of production where workers sell their labor and don't take value from what they create Mesh network is where all nodes can connect to each other, no mediation, autonomous, based on mutual configuration Star network is where nodes connect through a central operator, mediated contact, authorization, depending on operator to connect.

A capitalist needs a star network, because it can become the operator where others depend on. This creates inequality and allows the capitalist to capture value on the communication between others.

In a mesh network nobody can stand in between the contact of others. The original Internet is build this way by universities, civil organizations and the military. At the same time capitalist where creating serves like CompuServe and AOL that have a star network structure. It was however the Internet that became popular, because multiple small ISP's benefited from the clients of the other ISP's who also connected to the same mesh network. This way you would connect not only to the people with whom you share your ISP, but to “the world”.

Capitalist where surprised by this development and in response bought all ISP's during the dot com boom. Now it's must likely that your ISP is a huge multinational company. The Internet was however still a mesh network at the time. This changed when social media turned it's use in a star network where Facebook, Twitter and Blogger are the most important operators. Dmytri argues that the Internet was always a social medium, but needed investment to improve it's interface. All investments however come from capitalists and they wanted centralized control to capture value from people using the Internet. The mesh network (better known as peer-2-peer) has been criminalized. The problem with Internet was then that it needed capital funding. Without an alternative way of funding society can't be remade.

After this short history of the Internet Dymitri continued with the history of free culture and the resistance against copyright.

Copyright was not invented to empower the author as many people think. Instead it was created so that capitalists could capture the profit that derives from the work. Authors are forced implicitly to sell their rights to capitalists because the author does not have the means to produce the work. This way the ownership ends up at the capitalists who profit from that.

The Situationists and Dada among others are artist who were against copyright. They disputed the idea of an author as autonomous saying that all work is somehow inspired on previous work by others. In general these artist were against the commodification of labor and formed a radical fringe against capitalism at the time.

During the 80's Richard Stallman started using the copyleft license and many people followed his example. The copyleft license means that you can use the product freely as long as you agree to license your product under the same license. In software development this led to a common stock of software that could be used by anyone. This turns consumers into producers.

The success of this license should be seen in perspective, because under capitalism only capital can be free. This means that only producer goods can be free and consumer goods must be paid for. Since software is a producer good it is no problem for capitalism as a system to have free software. The license successfully resists against exploitation, but not on all levels.

Cultural capital consists of consumer goods and capital has no interest in making such goods free. Even for mechanical copies where there are no productions costs for the product the cultural industry wants people to pay for it. Some artists have tried to create a commons for cultural works in the same way that there is a commons for software. They did this by reserving only some rights on their work which includes use for commercial purposes. In practice these works may be used on Facebook, but not in any serious cultural product with which the producer can sustain himself. This is against the idea of a commons where producers share a common stock. The Creative Commons works as an anti-commons in this sense.

A possible improvement on the non-commercial licenses is a license called copy-far-left where collectives and other non-profit organizations or persons are allowed to reuse work in the commons in commercial projects so they are empowered to make a living out of that. Such a license really works towards a workers economy.

QUESTIONS

Shouldn't new lawmaking be looked at on a larger scale. Disney is making it's own laws in neighborhoods build by Disney?

D: Agrees that the issues are relevant outside art and software development, but he's talking from his own practice about it

M: Notes that social media are a more important platform than a few neighborhoods and a supermarket.

D: Agrees that the fusion of media and public space is a powerful one.

M: Thinks it is important to look at this from a different perspective than the neoliberals do (unsure if this was his answer)

(missed a question here)

Remark: copyfarleft does not apply to software art, because it's funded and the crisis put's this under presure

D: Copy-far-left is a plea for non-commercial licenses to reduce the rights. Artists need those rights, but don't deny them for the commons.

Remark: revolution happens at a city level, the cut of internet is no problem for the revolution to continue

M: The social space doesn't change by social media. The media have taken a more important role than in the past. It's a problem that big cultural spaces vanish while only small (online) organizations and niches persists. It's easy to organize such groups, but they have a smaller impact.

D: Interactions on platforms are short lived. People don't go in dept, it's shallow with just acknowledging discourse like “i like” clicks

Remark: gated community is unequal to social network Question: is free society possible with Assange?

D: Has mixed feelings over Wikileaks. Clever hero's don't make changes. There's more struggle needed instead of brilliant tricks.

M: Wikileaks needed traditional press. How can we find crucial data in large dumps? Wikileaks at some point became the story and now the secrecy will be stricter.

D: In the cables you can find anything you want to find. It's like reading the Bible. A conspiracy theory may be true, but knowledge doesn't set free. There's a risk in “hero's” that the masses are only unlookers

Can you give an example of an artist who does it right?

D: Novalists with open licenses. They should connect to printer colectives

M: Science bypasses publishers by going online.

Which government type resembles the platforms the most?

M: That differs per platform

D: American industrialization, corporate nations. FB is a gateway community, because you put your work on a server where the policy is very different from your own webpage.

Remark: There is an example where an artist lost all her work, because she faked her profile information. The platforms are segregated because white kids are mostly on Facebook, while black kids are on MySpace

Remark: A gated community is different because norms are imposed there

Remark: FB does not connect people outside of their friendsgroup