Archive:2005-03-02

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Minutes for March 2, 2005 conference call, by Amanda.

In attendance: Andy, Aphid, Gavin, Nelson, Amanda, Ben

1) There are a number of challenges to starting a new chapter, some specific to UC Santa Cruz (the impetus behind this call). They include the quarterly term system (as opposed to semesters), which keeps students perpetually in busy-mode. One potential solution is to incorporate FC issues into courses, which is already happening at Santa Cruz. E.g., Lessig is required reading. Note: Grad students (who may be teaching or TA'ing) may have more leeway in incorporating this than undergrads.

1a) Another issue is the lack of a centralized list of useful materials for giveaways (aka swag), such as the Wired CD. One resource to be aware of is a film called Willful Infringement that features Lessig, the EFF, etc. The filmmaker has already e-mailed FC Santa Cruz and given them permission to show it. It may be available to other FC chapters if they are interested.

1b) Ongoing, general difficulty of distilling our principles. How can we create soundbites? The broadcast flag is one example of a "gateway issue" that can introduce people to FC issues more generally. "Everybody of our generation has a box of VHS tapes that they cart around -- if people find out they can't tape Buffy any more, that's not abstract."

2) We should be conscious of creating good vocabulary that we WANT people to adopt. Otherwise the terms of the debate will be framed by others (as has already happened with "piracy"). Discussion of whether we should also avoid "intellectual property" because it's messy, inaccurate, and brings up too many political issues.

3) Again, Nelson's analogy of the environmental movement. We need to frame these issues as a coherent whole, in the way that save-the-whales and don't-drive-an-SUV and buy-recycled all fall under the umbrella of "the environmental movement."

Perhaps we should go back to using the commons as a guiding principle ("back" meaning that FC Swarthmore was originally the Swarthmore Coalition for the Digital Commons). It's a good base -- a lot of what we care about falls under that umbrella. For example, there are two reasons to like open-source software -- moral/philosophical, and economic, and many arguments now focus on the economic.... If we use the commons as the grounding point, it explains why we support open content/os, FOIA/access to government documents. We support the essential toools for enpowering people to participate in their culture; we see the commons as a major way for people to have a stake in their own culture. We WANT people to have that "ownership society."

Some discussion of assets in ownership society (real estate, etc.) vs. intangible assets. Question: Are we talking about something like social capital -- an intangible asset that is nevertheless very important? What is the exact parallel? Is it media literacy?

Response: You don't have to own things to have *access* to them. Media literacy is the other half of empowering people to participate. We've been standing up for the tools, but we also need to advocate for people USING the tools. E.g. think of the common kindergarten project of gluing together clips from old magazines. It's normal for parents to put that on the fridge -- what if they scan it and post it online? What are the implications? If the (common) law falls in the forest and nobody hears it...have we lost an important element of free culture?

N.b. There was also discussion on the call about problems with fliers in Gimp format -- has this been resolved? Do we need to discuss it again?

Meeting minutes and logs

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