Saturday, January 23, 2010

Response 1 - Ippolito Response

Ippolito puts forward the idea that 'Cheating is the pedagogy of the Internet' and humorously explains how some people are so antsy about sharing work by examples like lecturers licensing lecture notes and at the same time how people like sharing and collaborating online their original work making them available for reuse/remix. There are several advantages to promoting such a collaborative and sharing environment in the internet like free software that can be modified and customized for personal use. The academics benefit most from the readily available resources from the open source society by effective use of them in teaching, training and research. On the other hand, the quality of such programs depends on the motivation, activity and donations received in the small group of talented programmers responsible for the development and maintenance of open source software. Some are widely used and even better than software coming out of major corporations. Licenses like CC for non-commercial use help people to use and remix the work , to make it better and get famous sometimes.

But, how many people use JUST creative commons licensed and open source software to create and develop their works? This is an easy question to answer. Not many. The dependence on copyrighted work and software is inevitable one way or the other unless you want your work to be limited to a very small set of users (atleast for now).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Ippolito presentation - Baldwin

Response 2 - IAA - Engaging Ambivalence - Arunan

The article points out how research is conducted in academia and is pushed in a particular direction by agencies like the DARPA. It also discusses how acadmeic engineering research is ambivalent and acts like a blanket for defence technological innovation and also for the use in aesthetics, art and architecture. I am just wondering about the morality involved in such a situation where the engineer does not know where his research is going to be applied and the end product is going to be. Is it going to be used for destructive purposes? Or is it going to be used for peaceful applications? He has no idea. He just has a proposal to write for an apparently interesting research grant and is then awarded funding to make that. The moral dilemma of having to earn a living doing research and thinking about the implications of the application of the end-product will be a point to ponder about in engineering research. On the other hand, using such technology creatively in the art scene is a totally different matter since the end result is much different from being used for war and military purpose.

spoof logo

Reading Response 2: IAA

Coming from an engineering background this is a topic that i have thought about for some time. During my undergraduate studies in engineering a group of friends and i would enter a yearly multidisciplinary design competition. One year we were short on inspiration and a friend brought in the large DARPA publication listing projects for which they were calling for proposals. Our "designer's block" was cured and as we sifted through the projects but our minds began to drift from the actual proposals to their potential uses. It appears that we quickly turned from engineers to critics.

Today the large book has been replaced by the government portal fedbizopps. Here is an interesting opportunity:

This was an important experience in our pathways towards being engineers. The following semester we took a technical writing course being taught by a poet where we read one of the ultimate artifacts of "ambivalence" in engineering; the technical documentation for the mobile gas chambers used by the nazis. Given the context of the use of these "products" showed us how technical jargon and processes make it very easy to be overcome with ambivalence while in the engineering profession.

The IAA's text outlines the influence DARPA on programs and today it still applies but it is not the only influence, although, arguably, indirectly it still may be the biggest influence. Today many corporate sponsorships also influence academic programs and many of these corporations also work on a number of DARPA projects(think Motorola Innovation Center).

It is an interesting take on the "fantasy into reality" in DARPA and subsequently on academics and engineering. This reminds me of Klaus Theweleit's "Male Fantasies" where soldiers give up identity to become part of the army thereby partaking in a form of ambivalence through acting as a part of the machine and removing themselves from any ethical results of their actions. Can engineers be considered soldiers in this sense?

While the goals of the IAA seem novel i am not so sure if they are successful in the projects mentioned in the text. As an engineer i am more interested in the technical aspects of those projects and they do little to spark any critical thoughts. It is one thing to use the processes employed by a community to educate that community but one must still understand that community to ensure that what is in the trojan horse is as interesting as the design of the apparatus itself. They may need better requirements to engineer towards.

Reading Response 1: Ippolito

The dated presentation by Ippolito regarding "Hacking Copyright for Fun and Profit" is interesting, for me, on a number of levels. Regarding the title, i have somewhat mixed feelings in terms of whether it is actually possible to "hack copyright for" ... "profit". Is it really a hack to simply selectively apply a rule? After all in my eyes copyright itself is there to assist in profitability.

The video itself provides a great context for "remix" culture and shows how collaborative art parallels a great deal to how the software which makes the internet function was developed. It seems that collaboration has become one of the latest buzzwords, but just like any other medium it may not fit every goal but it may also open up new areas to critique, parody or inspire.

In a sense i find the creative commons to be a reaction to the fact that many more people are having to deal with copyrights and the legality of creation. Ideas like the "Pool" are interesting but are destined to fail because they do not really host the projects but serve more as a registrar. In a sense it resembles the DARPA call for proposals book i mentioned in my IAA response. The projects may begin as proposals and may blossom into full blown projects but they may also simply die off.

In many ways this conjures up memories of a "hacking" group i was affiliated with in the late 90s where we released a number of utilities under the "FUQ" license, which basically uncopyrighted the work. The source and binaries were release with the statement:

"Do whatever the FUQ you want with this."

While i currently think that any form of copyright stifles innovation/creation i also understand their need. I wonder how copyrights work in communist countries? I am still conflicted on any singular positions regarding "intellectual property" but this presentation, although dated, has provided me with more food for thought.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Response 2: Ippolito

John Ippolito: Hacking Copyright for Fun and Profit

In the discussion Hacking Copyright for Fun and Profit, Jon Ippolito presents what he feels is the foundation for the framework for legal licensing using Creative Commons. Ippolito goes on to discuss the usefulness of these collaborative copyright groups and then gives a brief explanation of how to use it. I too feel that this discussion is slightly dated and its issues since this talk have for the most part been resolved. Creative commons is still a very popular option instead of traditional copyrighting. It seemed as if Ippolito drags on a bit about what creative commons is and how it can remix concepts and works to move towards more creation rather than consumption. However, I find that as of now Creative Commons, though it hopes to forage a desire in others to collaborate and create with one another, I don’t really see it ever moving past shared consumption for personal ‘free’ use. I think that Ippolito’s “Pool” and Open Art Network projects are good first step to move past what Creative Commons already offers by having the user actually create their own personal structure to collaboratively develop new projects. The most important ideas that I took away from this talk was the necessity to keep creating new tools and groups that allow and promote collaborative creation rather than just consumption. In that realm I think that Creative Commons may be falling a bit short on the creation, though they promote it. Creative Commons, however, is still a very powerful tool and has opened up an entirely new way to digitally collaborate.

Response 1: Engaging Ambivalence

Engaging Ambivalence investigates and discusses the challenge of the relationship between DARPA, the engineering, and academic communities and specifically looks at the moral relativity within defense research for the military and research universities that are funded by DARPA. The article goes in to slight detail that DARPA entices researchers to turn “fantasy in to reality,” enticing artists through the thoughts of futuristic combat scenarios in video game and other “more fun” approaches, but in actuality DARPA’s motives are deceitful and often hold true motives of martial purposes in warfare scenarios. This article also discusses the basic ideas behind the Institute of Applied Autonomy. In this article, their focus seems to be placed on engineering, as stated that “While there is a long history of artists and social theorists questioning relationships between technology and society, there is an equally long history of engineers ignoring art and social theory.”

In accordance with JD, I too enjoy subversive technology, but have a hard time associating it within the art world and find many of these works to be tools created by engineers (though I find most new media artists to be engineers) for other to use for whatever needs they see fit. Though these tools are wonderfully crafted, in the examples within the text, the intention in the making of these tools does not seem to be rooted in fine art. Does this mean that these tools and their byproducts simply become art based on the makers intent? In regards to subversivism and activisivsm being categorized as art forms, I am not sure I could formulate a better argument than JD has below.

As a quick side note, Going back to DARPA and funded projects, I cannot help but think of works such as the BigDog (funded by DARPA) created by Boston Dynamics. Though I find this robot to be very impressive/beautiful and can see hundreds of them as a pack roaming through the woods as some sort of new media autonomous speices installation, I also see them walking the streets with machine guns strapped to their sides as future soldiers. Frankly DARPA’s funding is incredible alluring but their future uses for such inspirational engineering feats is a bit terrifying.

BigDog Video:

Reading Response 1 | Jon Ippolito, “Hacking CopyRight for Fun and Profit” | JD Pirtle

The main ideas of this presentation are the value of “remixing” concepts, works and tools as art and the importance of keeping an open mind about collaboration. Ippolito points out that there are many shades of copyright protection and that open source art projects exist and are often novel and dynamic. It is difficult, however, to point out specifically how this presentation relates to other texts in the seminar. We have spoken briefly about subversion and activism as art, but charting the exact trajectory that this course will take is problematic at this point.

Ippolito is competent with the subject matter, but the content seems woefully outdated. It is not as if he is “preaching to the choir,” but that issues he brings up have either been resolved somewhat or have been exacerbated extremely. Creative Commons remain an alternative to traditional copyrighting, but recent court cases involving CC licenses reveal some of the unintended consequences of their usage (, Also, the recent trial of Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm, Peter Sunde, and Carl Lundström of brought the world of Digital rights management (DRM) into plain and common view as it unfolded and was covered via sites such as Twitter (which was a non-entity when this talk was given). Ippolito specifically stated that the type of hacking or usage that he was encouraging did not involve stealing in the legal sense, but the DRM battles of the last few years have really punctuated the divide between users and producers.

The important and still relevant points of Ippolito’s talk reside in the importance and necessity of open, collaborative art making. Working on projects that are CC licensed and distributed is a relatively new form of art, and it presents interesting challenges never really encountered before by artitsts. Working with this paradigm it becomes necessary to compose with interaction, sharing and collaboration in mind.

Response 2, IAA - Obelleiro

“Engaging Ambivalence: Interventions in Engineering Culture” describes the ground ideas and goals behind the Institute of Applied Autonomy. Moreover they present the reasons why their research projects are not only relevant, but also necessary to reach certain areas of the “engineering world”.

After the description of DARPA that the article presents, the extremely morally dubious areas in which the engineers working in such projects are, is made clear. IIA approach is intelligent and pretty well thought, but at the same time I find it extremely poetic and subversive. The relevance of such tactical media projects is higher every year, as the political situation from top to ground levels promotes the necessity of military investigation in order to protect some developed countries from “foreign risks”. Examples can be found in every little detail controlled by governmental institutions, even in "banal" instances like the constant reminder of the CTA to watch for “unattended packages” create a sense of necessary hyper-awareness.

In this case, the IIA focus is placed on the engineer sector, which, as they claim, does no pay much attention to the art/social theory realms. “While there is a long history of artists and social theorists questioning relationships between technology and society, there is an equally long history of engineers ignoring art and social theory.” To fight this situation, in the Infiltration and Tactical Aesthetics section they describe theirs strategy, which I consider extremely sound tracking into account their purpose and the conceptual criticism they intend to achieve.

After reading the article, the only relevant weakness that I found is the lack of exemplification (only 2 examples) in their essay. I think their foundation is so strong that just relating their ideas with the specific projects they have developed would give the article a stronger and quite sounder finish.

Reading Response 2 | “Engaging Ambivalence” Institute of Applied Autonomy (IAA) | JD Pirtle

“Engaging Ambivalence” deals with the issues of the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) policies of engaging academics to research with civilian and military applications. The author feels that DARPA’s methods are disingenuous and often obfuscate the actual motives for the research it buys; while DARPA purports humanitarian applications of such research, these pursuits actually have primarily martial purposes.

The author points to several interesting projects that invert/subvert the nature of DARPA’s ambiguous research objectives, ‘The Tactical Mobile Robotics program is developing robotics technologies
and platforms designed to revolutionize dismounted operations by projecting
operational influence and situational awareness into previously denied areas’’ becomes a mechatronic spray painting apparatus. These projects interpret the vague intent of the research verbiage in favor of human empowerment, creating devices and processes that ease one’s burden when rioting, or facilitate expedient graffiti tagging.

While I often enjoy subversive technology, I don’t consider it art. The output of these tools might be possibly be art, but the sheer act of creating a tool does not endow the creator with the title of “fine artist”. I am not arguing any of the classical definitions of fine art: that it should be merely contemplative, elicit emotion or poetically describe some phenomenon of life.

In the same sense, subversion and activism are no more art forms than is war itself. If some enterprising young artist began and successfully waged a war on some political entity, would he be nominated for a Golden Nica? If not, why then do we find activist, subversive projects now hand in hand with computer animation? But it’s ok that subversion and activism are not fine art forms--they are necessary tools of patriotism. However, if the trend toward subversion and activism being included in academic arts continues (e.g. the title, “Andy Bichlbaum, assistant professor in Subversion at Parsons”), then the door is opened for all acts that have previously been excluded from “high” art (for good or ill).

IAA pdf presentation

Here is the link for the pdf of the IAA presentation:

Baldwin Response Article 2

Response to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

This response is classified and may not be shared with parties outside of the University of Illinois AD509 Spring Semester Rooster led by Professor Sabrina Raaf.

Any responses may be used for further research, quoted, and/or reprinted without permission from the authors.

The Engaging Ambivalence article immediately draws up fond memories of the film The Last Starfighter:

This is the story of a videogaming boy, named Alex Rogan who lives in a remote trailer court where his mother is manager and everyone is like a big extended family. Meanwhile, Alex becomes the top player of Starfighter, a stand-up arcade game where the player defends "the frontier" from "Xur and the Kodan armada" in a space battle. After achieving his best score, he is approached by the game's inventor, Centauri. Stepping into Centauri's vehicle, he is seemingly doomed to stay at his trailer park home all in his life, he finds himself recruited as a gunner for an alien defense force when Centauri is a disguised alien who whisks him off to another planet. Written by Anthony Pereyra {} (

But after years of playing video games, the NRA never called me up for my Duck Hunt abilities, nor did the Association of Italian Plumbers look me up for my turtle bopping skills to seek a princess. Then again, here I sit, punching buttons over and over again...

I think the author tries to make a calm connection between military to academic and corporate research labs but fails in my eyes and the writing ends up as bait for a would be conspiracy theorist. What I feel the article succeeds at is inspiring to think of a better design. It points to the somewhat forgotten but obvious fact that someone can take what we do and make bad things happen with it (i.e. in the movie Real Genius, engineering students build a laser that is secretly being built for the government which ends up being reversed into being the worlds biggest popcorn maker).

The end goal then becomes the responsibility of the artist to find ways to protect the interest and scope of the work while making work that has little room to be adapted into military functions, or even functions the artist does no desire to be implied upon them. Or as Jasper Johns said:

Publicly a work becomes not just intention, but the way it is used. If an artist makes something — or if you make chewing gum and everybody ends up using it as glue, whoever made it is given the responsibility of making glue, even if what he really intends is chewing gum.

So in agreement with Johns it falls on the artist to make sure that what they are making is equal to their intention of what was to be made.

Response 1, Ippolito - Obelleiro

In his lecture, Jon Ippolito describes the current (in 2004) landscape of cultural produces, where he sees two extremely different species: the Media Giants and the Small Scale Producers. While obviously the cultural landscape is not as simple as he describes it, I find his classification quite accurate for the purpose of his talk.

Ippolito states, “Cheating is the pedagogy of the internet” to portray the cultural remix that happens (and he intends to increase) over the Internet due, among other things, to its original purpose and architecture: Internet was meant to share ideas and information, and was designed to be completely open, as all the html code was visible since the beginning.

While I agree with the main ideas presented on the lecture, I think they are quite far away for being actually true. Creative Commons represented a huge leap forward in terms of consumption licensing, but as Ippolito explains it is focused on consumption rather than in creation. He presents “The Pool”, which intends to shift the focus to the creation, by creating a framework to develop collaboratively projects and ideas. Although I think it is a really interesting idea as a concept, I do not believe the situation will go beyond where it is nowadays (at least for some time). The reason why I say this is because brainstorming needs as much information and input as possible, and by using a tool like this, the creator is bound to the set of ideas/projects that are contained within the tool. Specially at the beginning, this tool would have a very small amount of information/ideas compared to what the creator would get from the Internet, and thus I believe it would never arrive to a point where it contained enough information/ideas to be more attractive than the “plain” internet as a collaborative creation tool.

Nevertheless, I think these efforts will lead to some feasible model of collaborative creation some time soon. For example, a project like “The Pool” that would actually grow automatically by gathering information from other websites. In a way, open source project’s websites (with their forums, wikis…etc) like Processing or Arduino are very good examples of collective creation, even though they lay the realm of tools, and not creative projects (although that could of course be arguable).

Finally I just wanted to mention a project I recently knew about. I’m sorry because all the project information is in Spanish. The project is called “La Wikipeli” (The Wikifilm), and it is a commercial project that aimed to create a collaborative film by setting a website where anybody could throw ideas and opinions about many decisions of the film. Afterwards, they were gathered and put into the film. The result can be watched here:


Joe Pankowski Response1

Jon Ippolito, Hacking Copy Right for Fun and Profit

Ippolito comes to the conclusion that creative commons sites are the way to make clear and legal places for people who want to share material online, and have the ability to do so without threatening large corporation's who either want to protect their materials from piracy or are just plain greedy. There are other reasons why he believes these commons are good, including its ability of creating a level playing field between the smaller entrepreneurs and big businesses by giving the smaller entrepreneurs the ability to pool intellectual resources. One thing I thought was interesting is how the sites he used as examples graphed the movement of ideas, where they originally came from, and there progress so a user could tell if the material shared was useful in relation to what they were working on. He also brought up a good point with mapping where the information, audio, or image came from, so that if you were to use an altered image, and then you altered that image it didn't accidentally end up looking like the original image before it was altered the first time. His image example was the Jeff Koons image. He ended his talk on the idea of taking the creative commons farther and calling for a creative sanctuary. A creative sanctuary is this place where stuff is copy right free, but from what I understood could take in stuff from large corporations that was protected but that somehow strayed into the sanctuary and would be up for grabs. I would think this would make these large corporations uneasy once again and put such sites in harms way.

Joe Pankowski Resonse2

Reading Response 2
IAA Engaging Ambivalence

The article reads into what DARPA's impact is on the academic and engineering community. The the article describes what DARPA wants from researchers as 'fantasy into reality.' I can't help but to draw parallels between how they entice the academics with futuristic combat scenarios based on sci-fi and video games to the military advertisements you see at the movie theater in the form of movie trailers. This one is a favorite of mine that I have seen lately, complete with 3D holographic computers imagery from Star Wars . . .
I think this way of getting researches to produce for the military ,with science fiction, is not as effective and dangerous as the normalization of ambivalence that the article later talks about. Taking the desire of an engineer to want to solve complex problems then allowing them to totally excuse the political and social implications has gone on since there has been war. da Vinci for example designed large scale war machines during his life, mainly because he saw it as a engineering challenge to solve, and what harm it would do to people was of no concern to him.
So to break this train of thought would be extremely hard and I wonder how successful the IAA can do at infiltrating it. I say this because IAA is a political art organization trying to disguise itself as a bunch of engineers to be taken seriously by the engineer community, even though the article states there is a long history of engineers ignoring artists. With its agendas I don't think IAA can pull off the Trojan Horse that it implies it is trying to do. I do think its a good way of criticizing the culture of morally unbiased engineers.

Institute of Applied Autonomy - Oleksiuk

The Institute of Applied Autonomy (IAA) treatise "Engaging Ambivalence: Interventions in Engineering Culture" investigates the challenge of the type of moral relativism that links Defense research projects (specifically DARPA in the U.S., with academia, specifically research universities. It pits the ambivalence of researchers who tune out criticisms of their implicit collaboration with militaristic culture using the longstanding tradition of "Big Science" (see Laurie Anderson album of the same name - research to further their own agendas as well as getting funded by a military with deep pockets.

IAA tests the soft underbelly of ambivalence by deconstructing the institutional mechanisms in which moral apathy festers. It further situates itself within that framework in order to infiltrate rather than directly create confrontation. (The Yes Men by contrast, do infiltrate, but the exposure generated by revealing the hoax is powerful, the infiltration is short-lived. IAA works on more of a checks and balances paradigm, engaging for the long-term the community they wish to "fix".

Ippolito - Oleksiuk

In Jon Ippolito's talk Hacking CopyRight for Fun and Profit, he lays the groundwork for sharing as a legal framework using licensing, specifically Creative Commons licenses. The basic thrust behind the talk is that basic copyright, while useful, is outdated in the age of the internet, and needs to be supplemented with legal protection that promotes rather than inhibits re-use, re-mix, collaboration, and sharing. He promotes Creative Commons licenses as this solution, licenses that retain copyright while granting permission for certain forms of re-use.

Two things strike me about this talk and the approach to the discussion of copyright. First of all, Creative Commons (CC) licenses address the needs of creators who want to share their work for purposes of viral collaboration and networking. It lifts the haze of legal ambiguity from works that bear no copyright symbol (which are unnecessary anyway), and clearly states the legal rights of a user who may wish to reference or re-use the work, depending on the license. This may not seem initially like it addresses a critical need, however, Ippolito makes the case that creative re-use is a emergent cultural norm that not only closely matches the ethos of the internet, but of the larger academic and artistic community. In the same way that copyright protects authors from infringement, Creative Commons licenses protect authors while allowing free sharing of information, and potential free publicity (via resultant derivations) for the work. This is different from the types of broadly naive arguments made by some free-sharing culture types who ignore copyright altogether and promote fraudulent sharing of music and other types of file-sharing.

Secondly it promotes a culture of informed legal protection coupled with openness, that gives authors a mechanism for using and creating derivative works. In many cases they are already doing this. The examples given are HTML and related code-sharing. The focus is not on copyright infringement (illegal copying by consumers), but of granting rights by authors to share information. Promoting the informed legally protected culture of sharing empowers individuals to seek and use Creative Commons (CC) works. This approach leverages the power of sharing on the Internet for creative authors without fear of legal prosecution.

Artists can use Creative Commons licenses to metaphorically suggest implicit interactivity or generative nature of their work. One example would be Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman (1971, Pirate Editions).