January 19, 2008

Classic in Internet Studies

Category: Academic,Books/Articles,IP Law,Teaching — Biella @ 10:40 am

One might think that it is too early to declare the existence of a “classic” work on the Internet given how the Internet as a widely accessible communications networks is barely out of its pre-teen years, But if there is one book that I would say is a classic, it’s Julian Dibbell’s My Tiny Life. There were plans underway to release it under a libre license but after I ran into Julian at the AAAs in November, I got the scoop that things had come to a screeching halt.

So a few days ago I was surprised to find in my inbox, this nicely crafted announcement that My Tiny Life is more or less (more more than less) free as a free bird. This is good news and his story about the trials and tribulations of getting My Tiny Life out of the noose of copyright, is an interesting one, involving among other things, outsourced Indian Labor. Who knew.

And while I am on the topic, I meant to write about who, among the many authors I assigned this last fall, took the cake among students as their favorite book/article. Somewhat, unsurprisingly, Dibbell’s more recent Play Money was the champion. Most of the comments were relayed in class but here is one of the more amusing comments indicating the love:

Reading Julian Dibbell’s Real Money, Or How I quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot was exceedingly more interesting than I expected.

And then just yesterday, another student wrote me an email telling me he read and re-read the book over his holiday break and wants to get Dibbell inivited to NYU to speak (which would be great, though I admittedly have no idea how to make that happen given my recent arrival here). But clearly, there is another classic in the making.

Thankfully students liked many other readings and I think there were two other clear winners: Carl Elliot’s Better than Well , Michael Warner’s The Trouble with Normal. and Michael Sandel’s The Case against Perfection. This is of course no surprise to me as I picked these books because I knew they would teach themselves.

1 Comment »

  1. Great to read the story about the book that almost went CC. 2 years ago IIRC I went into the a branch of the NY city library and they were testing out a print-on-demand prototype machine (espresso?) that they wanted the library to consider vs. the cost of shipping physical copies where to my surprise they were allow to print “The Long Tail” which surprised me as I knew it couldn’t be out of copyright. I asked about how this book could be printed and he said he made arraignments with the author. I’d be curious what that required. Authors can own the copyright but the publishing rights around the world is artificially split like DVD region codes so that you are forced to break humty dumpy apart to sell him off and then need to gather back the pieces to put him back together again to reclaim your rights and change the licensing. I’m still trying to figure out what use a copyright is if you cant publish your work while someone else has that and can’t change the license while all the publishing rights are not yours. Ok so at some point in the future these rights may revert back in 100 years IIRC woot!

    Comment by Kevin Mark — January 19, 2008 @ 3:00 pm

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