NMC Symposium on Mashups



I’m attending another excellent New Media Consortium online symposium. This time the topic is educational uses of mashups. As with any subject covered by academics, there’s been significant effort and time spent in the symposium on defining the topic of the symposium itself. Several of the presenters have spent time trying to put a finger on just what a mashup is.

For the most part, the focus is on new tools and structures that combine data from multiple and sometimes disparate sources in novel ways. Often the product is a visually interesting website or Internet-based tool. But, in its broadest sense, almost any cultural artifact can be seen as a mashup. In a real sense, everything that is a cultural product takes the current cultural landscape as a given upon which it can then build, borrowing more or less from previous cultural artifacts. The movement of mashing up and remixing is transforming how we experience culture and its products. And because educational institutions are situated in culture, it is unsurprising that this movement is being embraced by educators. The topic is fascinating from a technological as well as philosophical point of view.

So far, one of my favorite presentations has been “Confessions of a Mashup Un-Artist” by Brian Lamb of the University of British Columbia. Brian’s presentation was itself a masterful mashup, more a live performance employing images, video, music and text than a traditional presentation. In addition, the NMC folks did something really excellent by having Brian perform in Second Life and then streaming the performance out to the web using Adobe Connect. That setup allowed the performance to be recorded, which is how I was able to experience it because I had a class during the actual time the performance was given. Take a peek at what it looked like:






It was absolutely fantastic. Some of the symposium participants really had no idea what to make of it. And many others really got into and started dancing in the amphitheater. Really great stuff.

Put the Use back in Fair Use

Just read an article at Information Week about the business of copyright. The article refers to a recent report by the Computer and Communications Industry Association that shows that more value is generated for the economy by the exercise of fair use rights than is generated by copyright alone. To those of us who have been urging people to exercise those fair use rights aggressively, this is welcome vindication. Like an atrophying muscle, our fair use rights will simply go away – taken by greedy corporations and their lobbyists if we don’t use them and fight for them.

Ripping and Encoding DVDs Redux

So, I know some of my readers have used my original DVD ripping and encoding guide to get setup with the right software. But some of the recommendations are stale. At the very least I wanted to recommend a product to take the place of DVD Decrypter which has been abandoned by its creators under legal threats from the MPAA and their minions.

I have been using an inexpensive tool from Slysoft to help with copying DVDs. AnyDVD is a lightweight driver that removes CSS, Macrovision, and Region Codes from DVDs making them directly accessible for conversion using any encoding utility such as Nero Recode 2, 1ClickDVDCopy, and others. For $30 it is well worth the price. The application is updated frequently to keep up with new encryption/copy protection schemes used by movie studios who want to tell you where and when you can watch a DVD you have purchased. Highly recommended.

Poof! Look, Ma, no liberty!

Check out Bruce Shneier’s new website on personal liberty and rights to privacy, anonymity, due process, equal protection, and open government. It’s called Individual-I. I’ve been reading Bruce’s Cryptogram computer security and cryptography newsletter for years. Join the movement to protect your personal freedom!