Collective Intelligence, Participatory Culture, Remixable Media & IP
Remixable Media &
Pierre “Collective Intelligence” Levy
Professor of communications
@ University of Ottawa Canada
Henry “Participatory Culture” Jenkins
Professor @ University of Southern
California, USA (Director of the MIT
Comparative Media Studies Program
Lawrence “Free Culture” Lessig
Academic, Standford University USA,
Copyright Activist & Creative Commons
Board of Directors
Pierre “Collective Intelligence” Levy writes:
“Not only does the cosmopedia make
available to the collective intellect all of
the pertinent knowledge available to it at a
given moment, but it also serves as a site
of collective discussion, negotiation and
Collective intelligence refers to the pool
of knowledge (knowledge community) as
a whole as opposed to shared knowledge
which refers to knowledge each individual
in a group possesses equally.
Q: Is there a difference between ‘Hive
Mind’ and Collective Intelligence?
A: Yes, according to Levy, The Hive Mind
suppresses the voice of the individual,
allowing only the mode of a group to
Collective intelligence celebrates multiple
ways of knowing
This is made possible online as traditional
power structures lose traction as they can
no longer depend on a tightly controlled
flow of information.
Collective Intelligence is more than the
sum of its parts.
The digitization of information has
changed the way in which information is
exchanged and this impacts upon the
economies of value.
Instead of information value being
defined by things such as the alienation
of labor and the disconnect between
media producers and consumers, online
information value is much more of a
social commodity, where social interaction
increases the value of any piece of
Within a knowledge community
“no-one knows everything, everyone
knows something, all knowledge resides
in humanity” – Levy
Henry “Participatory Culture” Jenkins
theorizes that collective intelligence can
be attributed to media convergence and
a new participatory culture.
He uses online Fandoms to illustrate this.
Time & Space.
High speed networks have
changed the expectation
of Fandom communities.
Now converstaions are instant
and the only way to demonstrate
true devotion is by participating
in discussion even before the
episode has aired around the
world. This makes Fandom a
much more effective platform
for consumer activism.
Production Network computing has also
transformed fan production.
New forms of fan cultural
production, or REMIX
Buffy vs Edward
Trends The super fast emergence of
fandoms online means that
Fandom itself has moved from cult
status to mainstream.
Producers of the original
centralized content are now often
providing a range of support
material online aimed at rewarding
the enhanced competencies of fan
Commodity Culture vs Knowledge Culture
Commodity Culture places value on
ownership of the commodity, for example
the Producer of a TV series has ownership
which allows him to profit from
distribution to consumers.
Knowledge Culture attributes much more
power to the consumers, blurring the
distinction between author and reader.
A Knowledge Culture relies on a two-way
How do a Knowledge Culture and
Commodity Culture co-exist?
In a legal and economic system designed
for Old Media, they clash.
The current system is designed to
protect corporate interests, which
could ham‑string paticipatory culture.
e.g A producer who engages heavily with
the collective intelligence of an online
community and then creates a product
which benefits himself economically, is at
risk of accusations of plagarism.
This clash of cultures (commodity &
knowledge) drives debate around Online
There is a massive power struggle
between old and new media structures.
How can marketers harness the power of
the Fan yet not lose control over their
Lawrence “Free Culture” Lessig is a huge
believer in the positive effect Remix
Culture has on creativity and innovation.
“Remix is a critical expression of creative
freedom that in a broad range of contexts,
no free society should restrict”.
Critically, Lessig argues that Remix
Creativity does not compete with or
weaken the market for the creative work
that gets remixed. These markets are
complementary not competitive.
Media is easier to produce, publish,
mash-up, remix or reuse and the tools
with which to enact these processes
(software and networks) have become
much more pervasively available.
Jonathan McIntosh Remix
Atmo: Read My Lips
The Open Source movement best
exemplifies this re-orientation of
knowledge and power, from the individual
to the collective. By creating a culture
of free software, a recursive public has
developed. Problems arise when archaic
laws are applied to this newly
democratised, recursive public.
Lessig supports a Read/Write (RW) culture
as opposed to a Read Only (RO) one.
RW Culture encourages people to
connect with their culture by listening and
interpreting. They also add to this culture
by building upon it, so that the remixed
work creates a new form of art.
This, in turn, leads to the social benefit of
a more diverse creative culture, and this
diversity will better inspire creators.
Lessig takes a polemic view that all
copyright should be opt-in rather than
opt-out (as it is currently), supporting the
deregulation of amateur remix.
Currently The USA relies on the Fair-Use
Act, and in Australia there is a similar
ammendment for the allowance of
parody and satire.
Lessig was instrumental in the set up of
Creative Commons to provide an
alternative licensing system for
Why is Fair Use necessary?
Lenz vs Universal Case Study
Let’s go crazy
However what if eradicating the fair use
Act opens up the possibility that many
more un-fair remixes are created?
“The Norm of socially accepted and
somewhat encouraged amateur remix”
which is so prevalent in Fandom culture.
Which begs the question:
Have social norms developed because
amateur remix is predominately fair-use,
or is amateur remix predominately fair use
because social norms exist?
Is Fandom after all, the ideal cosmopedia?
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