This blog post is brought to you by PacificNet; PacificNet: Where you’re never sure if the internet is working when you open your laptop.
Focusing mainly on the musings of Melissa Terras’ blog post about re-using digitized content due to my phone not being able to access the pdf of Robert Leopold’s article, I will be looking at the remix and where it stands in the context of art. She talks a lot about the how archival material and how it is presented online for others to use.She also makes many of what seem to be contradictory statements during her post, wanting this and criticizing that. Really I feel like she wants the world and she wants it now.
The first point she addresses is how poor the user interfaces of the platforms they upload their media to are. Flickr is brought up as an example, and I do remember a time when Flickr had a much more user friendly interface, but that was many years ago, and I believe the changes were brought to the website to better monetize the advertisements on the website. This brings up the question, at least to me, where if you are externally hosting your content on another companies domain, then what control do they have over you in how your information is presented when they change their layout to be more or less user friendly? Would you move your entire database somewhere else? Would you make your own? Would you partner up with similar institutions to make a universally searchable database?
In her second point she talks about how the aesthetic of what is available isn’t pleasing to her. So what? I ask. If absolutely nothing except for what was still under copyright was desirable to me, then do I have a right to ask the curators to go out of their way to make it more accessible to me? I think it should be clearer on how to get licensing rights, but so they cherry picked 10 (which is a very buzzfeedy attention grabbing number, along with her titles “10 fabulous 1950s illustrations which we have arranged for you to use under a creative commons license” but I digress) just for you but you didn’t want those ones you wanted the specific ones that you wanted to use. It would all be much simpler if they offered a better way to tackle this problem.
Her third point is on how monetizing product works. She says anything you’re not monetizing, let other people use it. For free or for pay, yet there are plenty of examples of artistic works that don’t do this. This is why out of print books and movies demand such high prices. Scarcity through denial of product. Sure, we have some companies like The Warner Archive Collection which prints VOD disks for anyone who wishes to order them, but companies practicing this are few and far between. And I don’t think that the vast majority of people are losing sleep over not being able to make a proper coffee mug. And to answer this question: “What “access” do you think you are actually providing, if its only of the “look but don’t touch” variety?” A museum. Museum access. Museums are look don’t touch. Its a digital museum collection.
Regarding image quality in her fourth point, maybe the same people who don’t know how to get images online in the first place don’t know how to properly put them online either. Go figure. I don’t think that there are that many super computer savvy museum custodians whose main priority is to make sure that they don’t get paid for their work making it available for free then letting others profit over the remixing of it.
Her last point is on maker privilege, and how much time it takes to remix something into something else that they want. To that I say, why don’t they put that time and long arduous effort into creating their own work or better learning how to cut down production time?
A lot of what she said I found very interesting and intriguing, but I feel as though she presented it in a “me me me” sort of way. A sort of “why aren’t they doing this for me” sort of deal. Many museums have their own staffed talent making remixes of work found in museums that can be purchased online or in their gift shops. A lot of what I observed on etsy were very similar to what I’d see in a gift shop, such as prints:
This demand for ease of access to remixers as opposed to a demand of quality for all researchers is an interesting one. It seems to be very focused on personal needs like I want that one, as opposed to a open collective sharing. Plus, if all they do is sell the rights to ten different items, then all we’re gonna end up with are remixes over and over of the same ten things, right?