Copyrights and anonymity. Reflection #7

August 5, 2008

The first thing I want to write about is Howard Rheingold’s (our guest speaker) talk about the digital identity of people going online. It sounds a little bit unrealistic but makes some sense. There are a lot of pros and cons here, so it’s really hard to decide whether it is necessary or not. I think it should be optional. If you want to gain some credibility in your online community – choose to use a digital identity. If not – don’t even bother yourself. For a number of years Internet have been the place where people could escape from their shame and embarrassment (I’m talking about positive projections of this phenomenon – like people talking anonymously about the health problems they wouldn’t talk otherwise). Anonymity is really important over here. It just cannot be taken away without harming these people.

The second point I would like to bring up was mentioned during our in-class conversation about the libraries. To my mind, a copyright is one of the factors that keep library alive. When you are looking for the book you need sooner rather than later, you have few choices. If the book is quite old and/or obscure (or just covers a specific narrow topic), you probably won’t be able to find it in the local bookstore. Buying online is another option. Most likely it will take a couple days for the book to get delivered. If you need it really quick (let’s say today), you can try searching for a free copy of the book online. And here come the copyrights. It’s well known, that copyrights in digital era are not so effective as they are supposed to be. Nevertheless, they provide a little bit of protection and sometimes withhold people from scanning and sharing books online. (As an example, a scanned “Long Tail” is available online, a “Media Economics” is not). Thus, the remaining option is to go to the local library and take the book you need (if they have one, of coarse).

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