Are corporations really creating a privatization of culture?
Maybe some of them are. I mean, surely there is a way to have a happy medium between your fans making, for example, porn out of Star Wars and making nothing at all because you are so uptight about the rights to your products. If someone has a lot of talent and does a great job making, for example, a Star Wars fan film, perhaps George Lucas should get some credit and maybe a little money for the rights to his “universe;” but the creators are doing most of the work and should be able to capitalize on that.
Does the author want all intellectual property laws to go away so that people are free to take whatever film material they want and make money off it?
I don’t think this is necessarily true. As I said above, I just think he wants the world and rules of copyright to be more reasonable.
Isn’t it ironic that George Lucas has sort of become the very thing his Star Wars characters are trying to defeat?
It is kind of ironic. As I said in class, George Lucas admits to as much on the Star Wars DVDs. Originally, he was fighting the studios for control over his work and won control, just like the rebel fleet in Star Wars. But unlike Star Wars, he has sometimes used corruption with his control over the content, most notably with his re-edits of his films. As far as fans making content, there is a ton of stuff out there that he allows to go on. I think he generally loves fan films.
Now onto “You Are Not a Gadget.” I think it’s kind of weird that the author works with virtual reality, yet seems to be against the idea of computer developers treating users like part of the system, like gadgets. What do you become when you explore VR software via an avatar? A gadget for the system. Unless, of course, the system works for you, instead of working the way a bunch of programmers want it to. But we are probably still pretty far off from computing technology that can achieve that. It would literally have to read your brain to find out what you wanted the world to be like and then make that world appear, constantly updating the world from your thoughts. It would be the closest thing to a digital dream. The second thing I will say is that I am kind of put off by how much Lanier puts things about politics and religion in the book. It’s not the subjects themselves, but his utter bias and the fact that he seems to think, at times, that ways that are not his thinking are stupid. When he poses the question of creating an artificial soul in different ways, for some reason he keeps it in his head that a soul has to be a physical thing, a part of this world that could be connected to a computer. I’m of the belief that this is not the case, that the nature of a soul is completely apart from all sciences. But since I cannot physically prove that, I’m sure Lanier would not agree with me, even though he can’t prove otherwise.