1. Earlier in his book, Lessig states that “code is law.” What does he mean?
Lessig divides intellectual property into three main parts: code, law and market. The law regulates the balance between the demand, which is represented by the market, and the limitations, represented by the code. The cyberspace has a framework that helps it to function, which is a counterpart of constitution for the government. For example, software and hardware ways to protect the material from copying belong to the code. The phrase “code is law” means the relations of the law and the code to guard the balance on the market.
2. Which of Lessig’s “four puzzles” most intrigues or concerns you? Why?
Lessig introduces four puzzles through the game “Second Life”, where the Internet is not just a source of information. The first puzzle is that in virtual reality objects can gain the qualities that are not their persistent ones. The second story describes the situation when there is no geographical unity. For example, a website of Californian jazz-band can be located on the German server. The third issue is about privacy in the Internet – it is not difficult to hack someone’s mail. The last example is about governmental control in the cyberspace. The third and the fort issues about the privacy and governmental control intrigue me most. They represent ambiguity of freedom as a notion. It is difficult to give a certain answer where the freedom and privacy ends and where the security of the system begins.
3. Lessig states that “Regulation in cyberspace can help us see something important about how all regulation works.” What do you think he means? Give an example from another media industry.
I think Lessig meant that all systems work according to similar rules. It can be connected with the notion of entropy, a measure of natural disorder of the system that progresses towards the equilibrium. The codes are the restriction the system imposes. This can be applied not only to all kinds of media industry. For example, the songs written by living composers can not be aired on TV or radio without the author’s permission. In addition, the composer must be mentioned in titles. This regulation helps to preserve the rights of people who create new content.
4. Do you agree with Sender that we are living in a “neo-liberal moment”? Why or why not?
Neo-liberalism refers to globalization of the capitalist economy. Allegorically, it can be called the process of turning the whole world into one huge mall, where it is possible to buy everything. The enterprises must be independent from the state. This causes various problems, for example, there is no price control the production does not go through all necessary checks. In addition, the rights of the workers are mostly eliminated and the companies pay them less that they used to. Another problem is reducing the expenditures in the sphere of social services. The last general issue that is characteristic to neo-liberal society is the replacement of the notion “community, public good” by “personal responsibility”. I agree with Sender that we are living in a “neo-liberal moment”. The majority of people are so used to these characteristics of the society, that it might be even strange to read that there was another way of living. The cult of the market is actively imposed through mass media and became an indispensable part of modern capitalistic world.
5. Do you think that television game shows such as The Price is Right are part of what Sender calls the neo-liberal project? Why or why not?
The main idea of the game is to guess the price of the goods. Four people participate in different competitions and only one winner becomes a finalist. Those who name the exact price, receives presents. The Price is Right is still popular in the United States for more than 50 years. The Americans say that this TV-show has taught them not to be deceived. In my opinion, The Price is Right can be definitely called a neo-liberal project. It has a strong economical component, because it deals with goods and their price. The main idea of the show appeared as a reaction to the rules of neo-liberal society. People are not sure that they are not cheated when they want to buy something. There are no fixed prices and so the best way out for the customers is to understand the value of goods themselves. In addition, the guests of the show compete individually, but not in teams, which is also a characteristic of a neo-liberal way of perceiving things.
6. Where do you think we are in the early 21st century with Media Culture: Brave New World or 1984 or a combination of both?
1984 and Brave New World represent different models of society, even though there are some similar features in both of them. However, I think that Brave New World is more about capitalistic and neo-liberal way of living. It is possible to say that economically developed countries like the United States seem to be based on the cult of consumption and this cult is spreading worldwide due to globalization. People in the novel Brave New World believe in their new god – Henry Ford and the society is divided into unequal castes, who despise those who are weaker then they are. People in that new world are communicating with slogans that are very similar to modern ones. The strange thing is that Aldous Huxley published the book in 1932 and even in those times he thought that the society might become the way he described. No matter how he feared this perspective, his prognosis turned to be true in some issues.
7. Identify aspects of both books that are apparent today in the Corporate Media and the Government.
1984 can be definitely called the horror of any democratic government and free media. They are trying hard not to remind people that Big Brother is really watching everyone and the TV is full of propaganda, just as it was written in the anti-utopian novel. People all over the world and even in one country are divided into groups with the help of previously recalled propaganda in the media and the wars and local conflicts appear. For example, people from Latin America are considered to be lazy thieves and all Muslims dream to blow up the rest of the world. In reality the majority of people do not worry about such things at all if they do not hear it from the news every evening. This situation was described in Brave New World, where the World Government created castes, so that it would be easy to rule. In both novels there is a rigid system and the state does not exist to make the life of people easier. In a contrary, people exist to make the system work. These two novels seem to be reference books of many people who have the power nowadays.
8. Why does Benkler consider peer production to be in conflict with the current economic model?
The notion of peer production refers mainly to open source projects like Linux development, Gutenberg project or Wikipedia, where people participate for free and sometimes receive monetary feedback. Benkler writes that this community work is in conflict with the current economic model. According to the current situation, there is the law of copyright and patent. As a result, people are creating minimum new content, but are paying each other for using someone’s ideas. It stops the intellectual developing of the society. Benkler thinks that the society with free information might be more efficient in economical aspects.
9. While some writers laud the idea of the peer-production model of media, others believe that audiences ultimately will want media content created by experts and professional media practitioners. Where do you stand, and why?
I think that those who can not sell their content or do not create it at all are the most active apologists of the peer-production model of media. It usually takes a lot of time and effort to create something really good on the professional level, and the creators always need money to fulfill the ideas. It is possible to find talented and original art house, but it necessary to watch a hundred of bad movies to find a good one. In my opinion, professionals need to receive money from copyright. However, the copyright laws should not be extremely strict, because sometimes they are absurd.
10. Which (if any) of Steinem’s anecdotes startled you most? Why?
Introducing personal anecdotes in the reportages and articles was one of the main features of New Journalism. It was used by Steinem and her colleagues from Esquire as well. It is necessary to note that Steinem was a charismatic person and so her works reflect her personality greatly. That is why even when she wrote about her childhood, h spoke like a spokeswoman from all females of the country and even managed to make conclusions about politics. She projected herself and her personal problems on the level of the state and even global politics. In some way she was, because it is possible to say that the whole world is in the head of one personality. Though, from another point of view, Steinem was extremely concentrated on the problems of feminism and did not write that not all women wanted to life the way she did. Her anecdotes did not startle me, because the situation in the society changed a lot from the time Steinem started to write. That is why they are not that revolutionary as they initially were.
11. Steinem asks “What could women’s magazines be like if they were as free as books? As realistic as newspapers? As creative as films?” Why might someone suggest that she is being naive about the independence that creators in those media have?
It is possible to say that Steinem was being naïve about women’s magazines in some aspects because she considered a magazine to be a way to inform females. However, it consists mostly of advertising, sponsored goods and propaganda of what is trendy. No one might publish the articles about talented young designers, because people might not buy their production and those designers might not have money to pay for promotion. The journalists in the magazine have their inner plan of work and format of the magazine, so there is no real possibility and need to be independent and original.
Duffy, Erin B. & Turow, J. Key Readings in Media Today: Mass Communication in Contexts, Annenberg School for Communication. University of Pennsylvania: Routledge, 2008. Web.
Turow, Joseph. Media Today, 4th Edition, Annenberg School for Communication. University of Pennsylvania: Routledge, 2011. Web.