copy, rip, learn

| May 13, 2011

I am Simon Lindgren, Professor of Sociology at Umeå University and working out of the HUMlab research environment. My talk at Creativity, Play, and the Imagination will be co-presented with Ragnar Lundström, a PhD candidate of Sociology. The presentation will be based on research done within a project, funded by the Swedish Research Council, on pirate cultures online. We are thrilled to be able to take part in this truly interdisciplinary and experimental conference.

The full title of our contribution is Copy, Rip, Learn: Pirate Culture, Playfulness and Creativity from “Steamboat Willie” to Buffy and Edward, and its aim is to discuss a number of challenges to social and cultural instiutions posed by the explosion in digital remix culture. We will illustrate how the playfulness and creativity that characterizes remix culture functions as a driving force in processes of informal learning and the development of new literacies and skills.

In today’s media landscape, not only large media companies have the tools and means to channel content, and to refine and transform it to generate new interpretations and new knowledge. Large numbers of people, especially young people, are now hard at work learning to participate in knowledge cultures that emerge outside of formal educational settings. These cultures are, at the same time, perceived by the judicial system as cultures of infringement and theft. At present, many of these activities are largely taking place in affinity spaces that relate to popular culture. Young pirates are writing network protocols and software, young movie enthusiasts are translating subtitle files, fan fiction is written, digital art is created and commercial content is constantly remixed and subverted.

We will look particularly at two cases: fansubbing, and music video remixes/fan remakes. The talk will be part of Tech Panel 2 (9am, Sat May 29th, Room 2), and it will be interesting to discuss our stuff in relation to Joff Chafer’s explorations of performances in virtual and blended environments, as well as to Seth Ellis’ work on how narratives alter depending on the medium.