Regurgitation Deluxe: The future of writing is creating less of more
I have had a serious bone to pick with Wired Magazine ever since some writer coined the phrase “law hardening” to describe efforts by Pirate Bay-types to evade prosecution. (And that worked out so well. See “Special Report: The Pirate Kings of Sweden“)
But I find it ironic that two great pillars of the law-hardening community, Chris Anderson and Professor Lessig (aka The Great Regurgitator) are coming out with books of questionable provenance at roughly the same time. Anderson’s Free, which celebrates an economy that may have existed–may–between crashes, and Lessig’s Remix that celebrates regurgitative “art”.
If you want to understand Lessig’s book, find the clip of him explaining it on the Steven Colbert show. Priceless. (It used to be on Hulu.)
But it turns out that maybe the two titles were switched at birth. Maybe Anderson’s book should have been called “Remix” and The Great Regurgitator’s book could have been called “Free”. (Of course, TGR had already used “free” in a title, so maybe not. God knows we can’t have redundancy in our regurgitation.)
No, Anderson, you see, was doing what passes for authorship in TGR’s coterie–he was doing what the New York Times mistakenly referred to as “plagiarism”.
No such thing anymore, dude. Very passe. Luddite, even. Plagiarism implies unauthorized copying, and in the world of the 5 minute copyright (promoted by the “law hardening” Wired Magazine) there really is no such thing. It’s all about “remix culture” don’t you know. Regurgitative art, DJ culture, smells like a mix between Bruno’s Speedos and a 2 am mens room stall at Chateau Marmont.
Valleywag tells us in “The Case Against Chris Anderson“: “[Anderson writes b]ooks counter to the recessionary zeitgeist: Granted, the most useful books often demolish conventional wisdom. And successful authors often face swift backlash from New York’s finicky media elite. But it’s worth noting that Anderson’s book Free is coming out at precisely the time many businesses are finding new ways to charge charge customers, rather than new ways to give things away.
Likewise, the sort of niche Web content one might have invested in after reading Anderson’s last book, the Long Tail, is faltering amid the advertising downturn.” (That’s the book we call “The Wrong Tail”, by the way.)
Hero to goat in the click of a mouse. Ah, don’t be too hard on old Chris Anderson. He’s just trying to find a parade to ride out in front of and pretend he’s been there all along.
I do agree with Professor Lessig, though, publishers really do need to do a better job of fact checking.