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From Free Culture to Who Owns Native Culture

October 7, 2010

Great discussion and online musings last week with Lessig. I hope you keep Lessig’s main arguments in mind as you move to Brown’s text and we may see some complications with Lessig’s historic and ideological view (check the syllabus for updated assignments for the reading, I had to switch some chapter assignments around this week).

One question to start the week:

In his discussion of the publication and circulation of some Hopi photos (and we could easily extrapolate to see how this could be magnified in the online environment) Brown argues that “Voth’s publication of details of important rituals offended Hopi sensibilities about the proper circulation of knowledge. To outsiders, contemporary Hopis seem almost fanatically committed to secrecy.” (13)

My italics in Brown’s quote highlight two notions that are mobilized in debates about IP rights (that you read last week) and in discussions about online identities and communities (think of Poster here). My question is, how do alternative systems of knowledge management (such as the Hopis) disrupt the standard Western view of information circulation (it should be free flowing, open as Lessig argues) and individualism (we want our own privacy, but group privacy is hard to defend) that inform the larger debates about copyright and privacy online?

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