The Dead Moocmen – #2BIG2FAIL

The Dead Moocmen

debut release by The Dead Moocmen, including a painfully noisy track from yours truly. Thankfully, the other contributors have actual talent etc…1

  1. mostly “etc…” this is noise for fun’s sake. []

Canadian Learning Commons conference session on DS106

blurb about the conference via @ppival:

On May 7-9, 2012 the University of Calgary hosted the 6th Canadian Learning Commons Conference. The theme of the conference was New Media, New Fluencies and Life Skills Development: Preparing Learners for the 21st Century.

I was asked to do a session, and worked up a presentation describing how the DS106 course experience can be framed as a student-centric learning commons, placing the student in the role of teacher (and vice versa). Wherein, I used the words “cool” and “awesome” entirely too often.

Probably the biggest “holy crap” moment in the presentation, if there was one, was the Inspire site built by students in the course. Students, deciding they needed better tools to share and showcase each other’s work. So they built it. Cool. Awesome.


Session proceedings, including my presentation on DS106, are now up on the UofC DSpace collection. A repository, if you will. Of learning-object-like resources.

I CAN DIG IT – telethon shirts

I just set up 2 t-shirts on [my CafePress account](, to raise moolah for the DS106 Radio telethon.

Screen Shot 2011 10 03 at 11 35 52 AM

I added “profit” to each shirt – $9US for the men’s, and $8US for the women’s (the women’s shirt is more expensive, but I wanted them both to be the same price).

Buy a shirt at $24.99US (apparently, that converts to $30CDN. WTF, Cafepress?), and I’ll send every penny that CafePress sends me to the DS106 Radio Telethon. (however that works). Cafepress only cuts cheques for $25US or more, but I’ll pass on the cash as it comes in.

[Buy lots of shirts]( Christmas is coming. Who wouldn’t want one of these?

kind of blue (about copyright law)

Duncan Davidson, a photographer I’ve admired for years (he’s one of the guys behind the [dailyshoot project](, wrote up [a fantastic description]( of the recent [Kind of Bloop]( photograph copyright brouhaha. A photographer, Jay Maisel, takes an iconic photograph of Miles Davis. It’s an amazing photograph. It’s used for the cover of [Davis’ Kind of Blue]( album. Wonderful stuff.

Pixel-art image by Andy Baio. Photograph by Jay Maisel.

Fast forward a few decades. Musician and artist Andy Baio releases an album of chiptune music, and creates some cover artwork inspired by Maisel’s photograph. He doesn’t directly use the photograph, and doesn’t simply manipulate the photograph. He essentially creates a new pixel-based drawing based on the photograph. It’s a completely new work, painstakingly created in a different medium, inspired by the original. Maisel basically threatens to sue the bejeezus out of Baio, but he’s willing to settle for a comparatively mild ass-raping. Maisel’s a majillionaire photographer, with resources to burn on law-talking-guys. Baio’s just a guy making stuff for fun.

For a description of the process of creating pixel graphics, [see Neven Mrgan’s description]( of how he created similar works for his iOS game [The Incident]( It’s not just save-as-jpg, open in photoshop, apply pixelization filter, save-as-gif. It’s a definite artistic process of creation. Also, there’s a slippery slope – would Baio have been OK if he’d created a watercolor painting based on Maisel’s photo? A pencil sketch? A cartoon? Where is the line drawn? Is an interpretive dance about the photo OK, where a pixel-based image is not?

Duncan [hits the crux of the issue](
> Should Jay have the right to claim the derived image isn’t fair use and ask for a cease and desist? Yes. He’s not, as many are saying, a dick for his opinion. Should Andy have the ability to defend his stance that it is fair use. Of course. Should it take the kind of money that only either corporations or the very rich can easily afford to spend in order to get a judge’s ruling and find out? Definitely not. That’s the real problem here.

The creation of an image that represents the original photograph is almost certainly fair use. But, under the current legal environment, only corporations (and Maisel is a corporation with millions of dollars to support legal actions) can “win.” Baio could have taken it to court and scored a moral and legal victory, but only at the expense of bankrupting himself and his family. That’s insane.

Again, Duncan nails it:
> The shame of it all is that while copyright is largely a conversation between corporations, the situation here pits creative against creative with legal tools that are mismatched for the case at hand. Nobody really wins.
> Bonus question: Do the possible penalties in copyright law designed to make it painful enough for publishing companies to comply make sense when applied to individuals in the current world where it’s so easy for anybody to be a publisher?

How does this climate impact the activities of teaching and learning? In an environment where individuals can be sued into oblivion by corporations, essentially bullied into settling before even putting the issue to legal test, what happens to fair use? How will the students in [ds106](, which is largely about exploring digital media and creation, deal with the legal issues?

Incredibly awful pencil sketch by D'Arcy Norman