Thursday, January 6, 2011

Does This Frighten You, Or Inspire You?

I tweeted this TED video out a little while ago, with the question, "Does this frighten you, or inspire you?" The video is of Margaret Gould Stewart, YouTube's head of user experience, and she's talking about how the ubiquitous video site works with copyright holders and creators to foster (at the best of times) a creative ecosystem where everybody wins.

Watch it if you have a few minutes. TED videos are always 18 minutes or less, but this one clocks in at under 6.

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OK? Now, how do you feel?

This frightens me. The woman is so full of corporate groupthink slogans, the video is more chilling than a George Orwell novel. You are a participant in the digital rights ecosystem? By empowering choice, we can create a culture of opportunity? I think that we can all agree that joy is definitely an idea worth spreading? Who does she think she's kidding? YouTube is a venue where pirates steal other people's property and dress it up for their own financial or frivolous interests. And what kind of supercomputer do they have masterminding the whole thing? It grinds through 100 years of video every day, comparing it all to millions of reference files in its database? Who built that for them, the Department of Homeland Security? This future we're moving into scares me, and I'd feel better is the whole Internet just shut itself down.

This inspires me. I can't believe what's becoming possible today. This woman is right, the complex web of relationships that is the Internet is now solidly positioned as the digital engine of our cultural landscape. Art and culture have always depended on sharing, with each new participant adding some unique idea but depending on some common form to deliver and touch the wider audience. YouTube and sites like it now allow this sharing to occur interactively over hours and days rather than asynchronously over years and decades. The speed is quickly outpacing our existing copyright laws, but the potential for creativity and an individual's unfettered access to the marketplace of ideas is simply astounding. Where's my Flip video camera?

Which camp do you fall in? And what impact will that have on how you run your organization?


Anonymous said...

I think the benefits of an open web, including sites like YouTube far outweigh the damage caused by parodies, poor content and copyright infringement. If I ran my organization, I would utilize social media and YouTube extensively as a way to communicate with a huge constituency that is neither the member nor an unrelated, uninterested public. ~Sue Miller

Eric Lanke said...

Thanks for the comment, Sue. There's a lot of lessons to learn from the TED video. One is about communication. Another is about the collaborative creation of content. How can associations use these tools to become part of the "digital rights ecosystem" and have the ecosystem create content of value for its members?

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