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Where do you draw the line?

October 25th, 2009 No comments

Still pondering Siva Vaidhyanathan’s points in Copyrights and Copywrongs

Consider the following statement by Vaidhyanathan, “… copyrights used to expire on definite dates, thus constantly enriching the public domain with new material.” (p. 125)  I am quite honestly a little perplexed here. Is Vaidhyanathan saying that only items that are no longer protected by copyright are in the public domain? Having read the entire book, this quote may be a bit out of context. It also brings up another question: What if copyright periods were shorter?

Where exactly do you draw the line?

Isn’t it true that each new creation enriches the public domain regardless of copyright? The creation of Copyrights and Copywrongs certainly enriched the public domain. I am able to read the work and quote passages of it in my own writing, as long as I credit Vaidhyanathan words. Vaidhyanathan drew information from the work of others – works available in the public domain – and he credits those works in the Notes section that begins on page 191.

So, if copyrights expired in, just for theoretical discussion, five years. After five years passed, would an academic writer no longer credit the originator of a work and present the words and ideas as his or her own? Any worthy academic writer would never consider such a thing.

So perhaps we should look at this from the standpoint of  a fiction writer or musician. If the copyright on a work of fiction or music expired in five years – there would be pirated copies of both fiction and musical works everywhere. Note Vaidhyanathan’s statement, “American printers … pirate[d] others’ works … American authors had less incentive to produce original works …” (pg 43) Do we want to return to a time like that? I think not. Not only would works be pirated, but other authors would claim the work as their own creation. There would be no reason, other than moral clarity, to stop a person from pirating work. Creation on either end would decrease just as it did in Colonial times. Recall specifically Vaidhyanathan’s quote regarding the U.S. Constitution: “Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution … power to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to the respective Writings and Discoveries.” (pg 44-45) The fact that the creators of our Constitution felt it was necessary to insert copyright protection is evidence of the decline of creativity due to pirated works. Also, given the short life span of people in colonial times, the original 14 years noted in Viadhyanathan’s book may have covered the majority of an author’s adult life.

So, where would you draw the line?

History of copyright

October 25th, 2009 No comments

I noted that more than a few of us were fascinated by the historical aspect of copyright presented in Siva Vaidhyanathan’s  Copyrights and Copywrongs.

Vaidhyanathan says in his introduction, “The chief goal of this work is to explain how essential the original foundations of American copyright law are our educational, political, artistic, and literary culture.” (p. 5) Vaidhyanathan, proceeds to not only explain the history of copyright, but also proceeds to give us concrete examples through the entire text. This enhances our understanding of copyright as well as helping us to question our understanding of what fair use is and how long a copyright should be in place.

In never knew, or even thought about, what the roots of copyright are. According to Vaidhyanathan, “American copyright emanates from the U.S. Constitution, which directs Congress to create a federal law that provides an incentive to create and distribute new works.” (p. 20) Motivation to create was brought up by me during the discussion in class regarding copyright. While some in class discussed abolishing copyright or shortening, drastically, the term of copyright, I brought up the fact that creative people may have no desire to create if they are unable to protect their creations from pirating. The framers of the Constitution, according to Vaidhyanathan, saw mass production of existing works that were pirated from works by British authors. There was little incentive to create something new in the United States as pirating works was so common. The following should be noted: “Article 1, section 8 of the Constitution … power to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to the respective Writings and Discoveries.” (Vaidhyanathan, 2001, p. 44-45) Copyright does give authors the incentive to create without fear of pirating. Note also, in this post, I use quotes and credit the author for his work. This is done, not only because Vaidhyanathan holds the copyright to his words, but also out of respect for the author and his creation.

It is also important to remember that the United States was not necessarily the originator of copyright. Copyright law was changed multiple times over the course of history. According to Vaidhyanathan, “…the U.S. Congress in 1998 extended U.S. copyright to match the European term [life plus 70 years]…” (p. 25) Earlier in history, the U.S. made the effort to join the international community with regard to copyright protection. Vaidhyanathan states, “… the United States agreed in 1891 to share copyright protection with the British Empire…” (p. 160) and “European countries in general have afforded broader and deeper protection to authors and publishers than the United States has.” (p. 160-161)

Vaidhyanathan has opened our eyes to how copyright came to be as well as to considerations and debate regarding length and protection. I would not consider for a moment that Vaidhyanathan should not be protected for his creation of any written work, including Copyrights and Copywrongs. Though Vaidhyanathan seems to advocate shorter copyright protection as created by the framers of the U.S. Constitution, I would consider it unfare for Vaidhyanathan to have to continuously reapply for copyright of his works. Though some of my classmates may disagree with me, respect for this author, and any other who creates an original work, should give us some foundation for understanding of the need for copyright.

This is not a flower

October 20th, 2009 No comments

So the discussion about “This Is Not a Pipe” was intriguing, so much so that I thought about all the objects in images that are not what they appear to be. Here is a my take on the issue

When is a bunch of flowers, not flowers

When is a bunch of flowers, not a bunch of flowers?

... when it is a tissue box. Then, when is a tissue box not a tissue box?

... when it is a tissue box. Then, when is a tissue box not a tissue box?

... when it is jsut one item on a cluttered desk

... when it is just one item on a cluttered desk

... all inside a building

... all inside a building

Nothing is as it appears, it is really just a series of pictures

Video regarding information literacy

October 17th, 2009 No comments

This is a very interesting YouTube video regarding information literacy called e-literate produced by the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies hosted on YouTube by Howard University for their freshman seminar. The video inclues some historical perspective and works its way all the way to present with information overload through the information we can access. It’s a very long one (almost 9 minutes) so be sure you have the time to view it. It is definitely worth a look

Categories: literacy, YouTube Tags: ,

Support for Kress and early literacy

October 17th, 2009 No comments

According to the National Institute for Literacy, “The building blocks of literacy develop beginning in infancy. Day-to-day activities expose babies and toddlers to sounds, words, speech, and print. Researchers have found strong evidence that children can learn reading and writing in their earliest years, long before they go to school. ” This provides strong support for Kress theory on sign-making in early childhood.

National Institute for Literacy

Categories: literacy Tags: ,

Sign-making

October 17th, 2009 No comments

There are many tangents one can go off on with regard to Gunther Kress’ Literacy in the New Media Age. I have chosen just one of those tangents: “reading as sign-making,” especially as it relates to childhood writing. Adults make the erroneous assumption that children learn to read and write wholly as imitators and copiers of existing adult writing. Kress states, “notions of ‘copying’ or of ‘imitating’ … ensure that we ourselves misread what is at issue … whatever else the child’s sign might have been, it was not a copy…” (p. 143) He then goes on to discuss his daughter’s attempt to write “thank you” after he has written it on a page for her. There are randomly written letters on the page, but below the words “thank you” that he had written for her, there is a symbol below it that she drew to represent his words. A graphic image of that early writing can be observed on p. 144.

Kress goes further to relate sign-making by adults as well. He states, “outward production results in signs which are visible, audible and communicable.” (Kress, 2003, p. 145) Kress relates this version of sign-making to drawing a picture of his car – he basically admits that his drawing of the car would only be a “partial representation” and “representation is always partial.” (p. 144) So the imperfection of represenatation exists not only with children, but also adults.

Kress returns to early childhood writing or sign-making. He states, “the sign made outwardly … is based on the sign made before, inwardly, as the result of the ‘reading’ made.” (Kress, 2003, p. 145) Kress says this gives us a basis for understanding early sign-making in relation to reading and learning.

This discussion by Kress was meaningful as I have seen such ‘sign-making’ with my children and with young relatives. My daughter was continually creating signs by scribbling on paper random mixes of letters from the time she was able to hold a crayon in her tiny hand. Books were always present and being read in our house. It was my assumption at the time that reading to her so often, nurtured her abilities to transform random scribbles to letters. Perhaps it isn’t just being read to that creates this ability with children – it is also the pervasive culture of TV, especially children’s programming, that teaches the first instinct regarding writing letters. Whether those letters come together and make sense or not, the child has still created a sign that is just a taste of what is to come later.

What Google found:

October 11th, 2009 1 comment

So I went to Google and plugged the term “literacy” into Google Images. It found a huge number of images that ranged from serious to comedy.

Of course with my fondness for animals I especially liked this image from the blog Mighty Red Pen (a very funny blog site to explore)

literacy-cat

There are also more serious issues noted at my Google Images search for literacy

This was on a site for a Canadian university – University of British Columbia – this graph is a particularly good illustration of some of our discussions in class:

bloom1

Categories: literacy Tags:

Some fun with Twitpic

October 10th, 2009 2 comments

As an old-school, older student, I am used to downloading programs before being able to use them. I thought Twitpic was no exception. I thought that if I went to the Twitpic site I could easily find a link to download software and begin using this Twitter add-on. Anyone who has been in this situation can imagine how hard it was for me to understand why I couldn’t find a download link. The next day I got up and decided to just play with the page and discovered, to my great joy, that all you really have to do it put in your Twitter ID and password and you could upload and picture and then include a link to the picture in your Twitter posts. I love to use pictures online.

So far I have posted two pictures into my Twitter posts:

Hard to do my reading with these three running around me

Hard to do my reading with these three running around me

and…

Jack, who loves to interrupt my reading

Jack, who loves to interrupt my reading

I love to take pictures and edit them – my pets make perfect subjects. Twitpic is the perfect Twitter app for someone like me.

Categories: Twitter apps Tags: ,

Lingua Fracta and Brooke’s view on research

October 9th, 2009 No comments

In the second half of Lingua Fracta, Brooke discussed many issues in composition. One that I found most compelling was his discussion about research.

In a portion of the Performance chapter titled “Delivery as Performance,” Brooke discusses sources of information, online sources in particular. He discusses how easy it for students to turn to the internet for information and how “… educators, even those of us who advocate for information technologies … have tried to get a handle on the proliferation of electronic sources and resources…” (Brooke, 2009, p. 182) I can well imagine how a professor might cringe when credible sources are not utilized. To enhance credibility, Brooke further discusses the importance of choosing internet resources that show the author’s name and he quotes one source as saying that the posted research shouldn’t be created by a group or person with a “vested interest.” (p. 184)

Part of Brooke’s discussion revolved around Wikipedia. Students have received some mixed messages regarding usage of Wikipedia. While some professors have not banned Wikipedia from being a utilized resource, others have banned it. Brooke says, “no particular expertise is required to contribute to Wikipedia, although inaccuracies and misinformation are not likely to last long…” (p. 188) Brooke, however, takes a generously balanced approach to Wikipedia. He says, “what many commentators on Wikipedia accuracy fail to acknowledge is that there are other forms of distributed credibility of work on the site. Each entry on Wikipedia is, in fact, the tip of a much larger iceberg of activity.” (Brooke, 2009, p. 190) He further says, “…credibility is not delivered prepackaged at Wikipedia, it is performed … the result sometimes can be messy. But it also can represent the kind of opportunity that traditional encyclopedias can never dream of providing.” (Brooke, 2009, p. 191). Though Brooke doesn’t necessarily advocate the use of Wikipedia in scholarly research, he does present a compelling discussion about how it may be credible.

what if…

September 22nd, 2009 3 comments

… we took a digital camera and created a still life photo of technologies from the pencil all the way to an iphone (pencil, pen, newspaper, open paperback book, cell phone, computer keyboard, digital book, cell phones, iphones, ipods, etc.)? We could use that still life as the header of a the wordpress blog page to represent the technologies we are discussing.