„All Creative Work is Derivative“

I could watch this video forever. Such a beautiful illustration of how creativity is always based on inspiration, a continous process of copy and remix.

Made by Nina Paley and uploaded on the „questioncopyright“ channel. However, when it comes to that discussion, I can’t globally take sides. Conditions differ so much for different creative spheres, business models, even individuals.

It’s a big difference whether you need money for a large book project in advance, collectively produce it with editors and designers at a publishing house and then co-depend on sales. Or whether you freelance for a daily newspaper, do most of the work on your own, sell everything under Buy-Out conditions and hardly make a living. Those are just two of the many, many ways the reality of a creative might look like. Music, literature, art, journalism – even within these branches there are so many differences.

I don’t believe that the few successful crowdfunded films or podcasters living on Flattr money prove anything – yet. But one thing is for sure: Things will change, legally and economically. Our perceptions of creativity, originality and copying are already shifting. How fundamental will those changes be? That’s what the ongoing and coming struggles of interests, power, and cultures will decide. I’m really, really curious how this will all look like, ten years from now.

What to do with a broken brother?

Hello Ironbloggers, I’m happy to be part of the beer-blogging adventure! Thanks a lot for the new deadline on Monday night.

In my first post I’d like to ask for your DIY help and suggestions. I know there are some English speaking DIYers among the Ironbloggers, so it’s in English.

It’s about my Brother. My Brother is broken and has been sitting in my office for a while now. Useless and with no real functionality left. I just don’t know what to do with it. I’ve given up trying to print, copy or scan. At some point, I forgot about it. Then I read Michelle’s post on „Smart Garbage„, and it all came back.

So here’s the whole story: I bought my Brother printer about, I think, two to three years ago. The model is a DCP-385C. Installed it, used it, all was fine. But then I was away for a while and I thought (which I now realize, was stupid) I’d just turn it off so it doesn’t keep sucking power while I’m away. Sustainability, right?

The thing about this printer though, is that it needs electricity all the time to clean itself. It’s like a little human being, it cannot live without constant energy flowing through its printer veins, even when it’s in hibernation. It needs to stay clean, and for that it needs power. If it’s on electricity, it cleans itself – I guess it’s the „cartridge head“, where the cartridges are attached, but I’m not quite sure. If the printer doesn’t get power, that part can dry up. That is, possibly, what happened to the black color and broke the printer.

Admittedly I didn’t act very smart, good intentions of saving energy aside. When I wanted to restart it six months into hibernation, it did not print black anymore. I found out about it’s hygiene routine and how I had cut the Brother off the life-saving energy it needs. But fact is, now I have a big broken printer, a shiny, almost-new high-tech device, and it doesn’t work. It’s basically electronic waste, even though most of the parts are ok.

I did not want to give up on it yet. I went to a printer shop where they refill the colour cartridges. I asked them if it was possible to repair my brother, but they said „Nobody does that nowadays anymore“. No. What you do nowadays, is, you buy a device, that uses materials from all over the world, the work of people who put it together, the energy of producing, transporting, advertising and merchandising it, with all the environmental and social impact attached – and when it breaks, you throw it away and you buy a new one. It’s so much cheaper!

The people at the printer shop did have one more idea. They filled the cartridge with a cleaning liquid, and told me to print a couple of papers with it. Unfortunately, the medicine didn’t help my Brother. It remained broken. That’s the point where I gave up, about a year or so ago. It was maybe a little early for that – but I was tired of the issue and had other stuff to do.

One important thing that I haven’t tried yet is to ask the manufacturer. If I try to explain why, I tell myself it’s because I’ve tried that in other cases, which has turned out to be frustrating. Once I wanted to get a broken digital camera fixed and it was so difficult to find a workshop that offered to repair that brand. And yes, just making the attempt to fix it – no guarantees that it would work – would have been almost as expensive as a new camera with a better resolution.

So I think I should probably contact Brother and see what they say. Or maybe I can do it myself?

iFixit has advice for a similar printer by the same manufacturer with a similar problem. I have hardly ever taken devices apart. I don’t want to make the problem worse. Anyways, I would like to fix this and then make it a manual for other people to use. Does anyone of you have experience with repairing electronics who can help? That would be awesome.

The main point is, though: I’m really angry that the industry prioritizes more sales over our need for sustainable, repairable products. I want smart products, that don’t need to become garbage so quickly. Products that don’t depend on being constantly on energy. Products that can be repaired easily. Products that can be upgraded to the next level of technology without throwing away what can still be used. They could be modular, and there should be workshops everywhere so we can go and repair our machines and not turn them into e-waste that ends up in some suburb of Accra.

…a conscious reduction of profits…

A sustainable information society is a society that makes use of ICTs and knowledge for fostering a good life for all human beings of current and future generations by strengthening biological diversity, technological usability, economic wealth for all, political participation of all, and cultural wisdom. Achieving a sustainable information society costs, it demands a conscious reduction of profits by not investing in the future of capital, but the future of humans, society, and nature.

Christian Fuchs, 2005: „The implications of new information and communication technologies for sustainability

Improving the Aid Sector With Open Data

Interview with Peter Eigen of Transparency International at Open Aid Data Conference 2011 in Berlin

Mr. Eigen, how can Open Data, opening up data treasures, improve the development sector?

Peter Eigen: At Transparency International we’ve observed that countries with an open approach to information, like the Scandinavian countries, rank in the upper spheres of our corruption index, among the honest states. Countries like Germany, on the other hand, where you have a hard time getting insights into official files and information, rank much lower. From our point of view there is a direct correlation between the openness „Improving the Aid Sector With Open Data“ weiterlesen

Pictures in ICTD reporting

When we read about technologies in the developing world, they are often accompanied by a certain type of picture. The visual language is: Cultural tradition, as old and different from ours as possible, meets modern technology. Shotgun Shack over at Stuff Expat Aid Workers Like calls this type of visual communication „development + technology p*rn“. For all who look for images on ICTD stories, his ironic analysis is very much worth reading as something to keep in mind when thinking about the next ones to use.

via @jilma RT @geoplace

Nairobi, Kenya: Africa’s New Tech Hub?

Silicon Savanna“ is the title of a Time Magazine article on how mobiles are rapidly changing Africa – and how Africans shape technology. Author Alex Perry collects evidence on how and why Kenya is now becoming Africa’s new tech hub. He reports from the mobile development conference Pivot25 in Nairobi.

Perry gives an informative overview on the topic, recent history of tech in the region, and international and local IT companies based in Kenya, such as m-Pesa, Ushahidi, and Google’s African headquarter. He also points out Kenya’s new and radical adoption of an open data strategy: „Nairobi, Kenya: Africa’s New Tech Hub?“ weiterlesen

“Slow, Expensive and Restricted”

Internet, Intranet and Social Media in Cuba

Getting online in Cuba is not an easy task. Only a fraction of the population has access to the internet, which „does not necessarily mean that they have access to the World Wide Web“, as Reporters Without Borders put it. Access is not only expensive and slow but also oftentimes restricted to just a number of approved websites, an intranet, RWB writes. However, there is a small but lively blogosphere on the island. At the same time, accessing content seems to stay difficult for most Cubans. Now, after years of slow satellite access, the first undersea fiber optic cable has been installed, raising hopes that the situation might change. But sceptics doubt that the new cable from Venezuela, supposed to start transmission this summer, will enable Cubans to freely access online-content. „“Slow, Expensive and Restricted”“ weiterlesen