Saturday, June 16, 2007

June Bloom

Today was Bloomsday, when enthusiasts of James Joyce's Ulysses relive the day of the fictional Leopold Bloom on the streets of Dublin. Despite the fact that this event is ripe for an alternate reality game, those who explore the urban spaces of Dublin on their commemorative pub crawls tend to observe the characters and plots of Joyce's masterwork quite reverently.

It's a good day also to remember the continuing copyright battles involving the Joyce estate and its conflicts with scholars who explore the historical record on Joyce's mentally ill daughter Lucia and free culture advocates, such as those who made "The Disney Trap: How Copyright Steals Our Stories," which protests the fact that Ulysses was briefly in the public domain only to revert to proprietary ownership status again. As someone who was once a research assistant for a noted Joyce Scholar and who had a dissertation chair who wrote a Joyce Book, these issues are close to my heart. And fellow Southern Californian Paul Saint Amour's book length study on modernism and copyright, The Copyrwrights: Intellectual Property and the Literary Imagination is probably required reading on the subject.

Bloomsday was commemorated on Dublin time on Twitter by Virtualpolitik pal Ian Bogost with a rendition of the "Wandering Rocks" section, which you can check out here. He also has some thoughts on the rhetorical character of Twitter on his blog.

In the world of Web 2.0, a public sheds the chains of a tightly-controled mass media market in which individuals are converted into the "consumers" needed to purchase mass produced goods and services. In its stead, that public gets a loosly-controlled micro media market, in which individuals are converted into the "users" needed to create databases for sale to Google or Yahoo! or News Corp for $35 a head. But now the market outsources manufacture to those very "users." The workers may have had nothing to lose but their chains, but the users are lining up to link their own together. It's the new fashion; chains are the new black.

Since Twitter is a Web 2.0 application that I also loathe, I heartily recommend reading Bogost's entire take. It's a little more subtle than Mark Marino's Web 2.0 app GeNerAtor, and it gets at some of the fundamental issues issues about cultural labor that Siva Vaidhyanathan brought out in "Me? 'Person of the Year'? No thanks."

Bogost also has a new personal website, although he still has his old minimalistic one on his academic site. I don't know if he should take the old one down. There's a certain kind of Noh aesthetic to black sites with red and white lettering. And those bare-bones basics suggest a sort of "I'm too busy making real Internet stuff to spend time on my website" look that may have its own cachet.

Update: Check out this zippy animation of the "Wandering Rocks," which is explained here by creator John Barger. (Via Jerz's Literacy Weblog.)

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Anonymous Ian Bogost said...

Ha, you want to know why I didn't take the old one down? It's cos I don't know the password to the server. It's saved on my GA Tech office machine but, this being summer, I'm there less frequently and I haven't been since I launched it. I was planning to collapse the two into one more or less. But now I may reconsider for the sake of fashion and minimalism.

8:35 AM  

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