Film 4002 – “Is our future becoming less free?

By: Alex Massaad

Featured Article until March 2010

Course Description:

The proliferation of high-speed Internet and multimedia-capable computers has opened up an information highway that has changed the way modern audiences interface with audiovisual media. New information sharing technologies such as YouTube and Bit Torrent have enabled the swift dissemination of almost any commercial audio or video recording, while concurrently causing a furor within legal systems internationally.

This course will look at audio and video separately in order to understand how technology is altering culturally coded norms within media. As the course develops we will be looking at various binaries such as: copyright/piracy, free/paid, corporate/independent and original/remix in order to understand how our use of media and technology can alter both the media and the technology.

Learning Objectives:

-Examine and utilize a variety of information/media exchange systems (bit torrent, social media, file sharing, forums)

-Examine audience trends with pirate media or non-standard distribution systems (legal torrents, YouTube trends)

-Understand and explore the impacts of the legal systems surrounding copyright

-Develop an understanding of new technologies and their relationship to the multimedia they create

-Have an understanding of the synergistic relationship between content creators and consumers and the idea of the “prosumer”

Class 1: Avatars and Simulacrum 1

Watch: Surrogates (Mostow, 2009)

Read: 1) Weisbuch, Max, Zorana Ivcevic, and Nalini Ambady. "On being liked on the web and in the ” real world”: Consistency in first impressions across personal webpages and spontaneous behavior." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 45 (May 2009): 573-576.

2) Langlois, Ganaele. "Networked Publics: The Double Articulation of Code and Politics on Facebook." Canadian Journal of Communications. 34. (2009): 415. Print.

Class 2: Avatars and Simulacrum 2

Watch: Moon (Jones, 2009)

Read: Jenkins, Henry. "Searching for the Origami Unicorn." Convergence Culture: Searching for the Origami Unicorn. New York: NYU Press, 2006. Print.

Class 3: Simulated People

Watch: A.I. (Speilberg, 2001)

Read: 1) Clarke, Julie. "Simulated Talking Machines:Stelarc's Prosthetic Head." Critical Digital Studies: A Reader. Toronto: University of Toronto Printing Press, 2008. Print.

2) Stelarc. "Prosthetic Head: Intelligence, Awareness and Agency." Critical Digital Studies: A Reader. Toronto: University of Toronto Printing Press, 2008. Print.

3) "David Hanson: Robots that show emotion." TED Talks. Web. 5 Dec 2009. <>. **very cool 5 min clip**

Class 4: Simulated Realities

Watch: Sleep Dealer (Rivera, 2009)

Read: Everette, Anna. "digitextuality and click theory: theses on convergence media in the digital age." New Media: Theories and practices of digitextuality. New York: Routledge, 2003. Print.

Class 5: Alternative microcosms

Watch: Synecdoche, New York (Kaufman, 2008)

Class 6: Privacy and Technology

Watch: Enemy of the State (Scott, 1998)

Reading: Munster, Anna. "Welcome to Google Earth." Critical Digital Studies: A Reader. Toronto: University of Toronto Printing Press, 2008. Print.

Class 7: A Patchwork Culture

Watch: Notorious (Tilman Jr, 2009)

Reading: Jonker, Julian. "A Black Secret Technology." Critical Digital Studies: A Reader. Toronto: University of Toronto Printing Press, 2008. Print.

Class 8: AV Remix Culture

Watch: RiP: A Remix Manifesto (2009)

Listening: Download and listen to a copy of Girl Talk – Night Ripper

Reading: 1) Bermingham, L.B. "CULTURE JAMMING or a culture jammed? RiP!: A Remix Manifesto." Screen Education. Winter.54 (2009): 44-47. Print.

2) (for list of sampled songs)

Class 9: Culture Creators

Watch: This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006)

Reading: 1) Higgins, John M. "MPAA Cuts Deal with BitTorrent." Broadcasting & Cable. 135.50 (2005): 31-34. Print.


Week 10: Propaganda Model of Content Creation

Watch: Manufacturing Consent (Wintonick, 1992)

Read: Seltzer, Trent. "RIAA, MPAA, and the Digital Piracy Issue: Comparing Public Relations Strategies and Effectiveness" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Sheraton New York, New York City, NY, <Not Available>. 2009-05-25

Week 11: Copyright, copyleft

Watch: Good Copy, Bad Copy (Johnson, Christensen, Moltke 2007)

Read: Pouwelse, J., P. Garbacki, D. Epema, and H. Sips. "Pirates and Samaritans: A decade of measurements on peer production and their implications for net neutrality and copyright." Telecommunications Policy 32 (December 2008): 701-712.

Week 12: Intertextuality and Hollywood

Watch: Star Trek (Abrams, 2009)

Read: Jenkins, Henry. "Star Trek rerun, reread, rewritten: Fan writing as textual poaching" Critical Studies in Mass Communication 5.2 (1988). 29 Nov. 2009


Copyright Concerns in Convergence Culture

Since I began my studies at Carleton, in 2004, many radical changes in technology have occurred within the media of our culture. I remember sitting in a first year Mass Communications class wondering about the next developments of the Internet, but only learning about the revolution caused by the newspaper. Technologies such as high speed Internet, high capacity hard drives and powerful graphics chips have changed the way audiences consume content and this has in turn changed the way content is created. My goal for this course is to show the relationship between producer and consumer in a culture that produces copies of its artifacts that are as perfect as their original. With digital media the role of creator and consumer is blurred as each consumer is in a position to retransmit or modify the same media they just consumed. Technologies ability to create perfect replicas has also led to media creating copies, and representations of copies, of us. I wanted to focus on this topic because I wanted to examine media that represented this shift in the traditional top-down consumption model. As advances in technology are able to simulate realities with increasing realism we can notice more conversions from real-life interactions to technologically mediated interactions, such as those acted out by us through Facebook and represented through films such as Surrogates (2009). Another issue that this course will confront is problems with the copyright and ownership of culture in a technologically mediated society. With so much information and media being exchanged keeping respectful of ownership would be detrimental to our cultural development.

My learning goals had to tie in my readings to the films in ways that allowed me to make connections between the media under study and existing fields of academic research. I recognized that one of my biggest challenges with including technologies such as YouTube or BitTorrent would be finding academia that have written in some way about these new cultural products and the related issues. I knew there would be more written about the policies surrounding Facebook and copyright infringement and this led me to look at other related fields such as communications policy, law and politics. This would help explore the legal and even political implications of new media consumption while still exploring the synergistic idea of a hybrid producer/consumer.