Thursday, March 01, 2012
Embroidering the Digital Commons in support of a free Internet
So why exactly are we inviting people to use a grey and black colour scheme for the embroidery of the term meme?
Well, the Embroidered Digital Commons supports the idea that the Internet is a common resource that should be freely available and accessible. Within this common space, traditional notions of ownership and copyright are problematic. The internet is based on sharing through networks by linking and copying. For example I've just copied this screengrab of the Wikipedia blackout from the Huffington Post, potentially breaching copyright twice! I could have taken my own screengrab on the day - but I forgot. But it doesn't matter because thousands of other people did, and wikipedia is all about making information available. This is how memes exist. The great thing about the Internet is I can find these images in seconds, and repost what I need to illustrate my point. But what if I couldn't? What if my blog was removed without consultation for breaching copyright?
Traditional business models have relied on copyright to protect their profits, and they are fearful of the erosion of the principle of copyright. They are so fearful, their extreme legislation to try and protect others from profiting from their material is in danger of destroying the Internet as we know it today. In the US these laws are called SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act). Clay Shirky explains the problem.
The image above is what you might have seen if you had looked at Wikipedia on January 18th 2012, the day that many websites went dark. This black-out was a global protest against SOPA and PIPA. See GrrlScientist for an excellent summary of the day and the argument, and good links to all the relevant info.
So in support of keeping the Internet Free and to keep the meme of the Digital Commons alive, embroiderers are invited to stitch grey on black.