Brazil and the Creative Commons
Having spent quite a bit of time lately following the iSummit 2006 in Rio online, I was brought up short by an uncomfortable question: Is the fascination with the novelty of media-technologies a symptom of an underlying aversion to politics?
Chris Gilbert, in the online journal NMC Media-N, borrows a famous phrase from Lenin to ask whether the relevant questions about social relations are getting shunted aside:
“Electricity plus soviets equals socialism.” Somehow, by a logic that I sometimes call “anything but politics” and has a particular tenacity in the context of new media, it is always the soviets — meaning the councils, the new social relations— that get left out of the equation these days. That is, in the field of new media we have only electricity. Or for electricity one may substitute microprocessors, fiber-optics, pixels. The revolution, or the kinds of revolution new media people have in mind, will not only be televised, television will produce it. (Read Article)
Our media will change the world for us while we cradle our remote controls. Sad thought.
On the contrary, some of the most interesting thinking about digital networked media is taking place in the context of social change. Take for example the ongoing Brazilian experiment in getting communities connected to the internet and enabling them to make use of it cheaply using open source software and “recycled” computers. For my money this is one of the great visionary social projects of our time.
Recorded at the iSummit, here’s a podcast on the open source audio, video, and graphics production software created for use by communities at “cultural hotspots” around Brazil (see also Estudio Livre, MetaRecyclagem). Note that the point is not so much about software and hardware as it is about the idea and practice of a creative cultural commons.
And it makes me wish I knew Portuguese so I could do some proper research on Brazilian technoculture and politics.