A Shared Culture

We all want to live in a shared culture, but how do we do that when we’re not allowed to share anything?

Creative Commons is a ‘non-profit organization that provides copyright owners with free licences allowing them to share, reuse and remix their material, legally’ (Creative Commons, 2014). It essentially gives the creator control over how they want their work to be licensed, and lets them say ‘the world can use, remix or edit my stuff, as long as they attribute the original thing to me’.

This idea of a shared culture is much like Lessig’s ‘free culture’. ‘Free cultures are cultures that leave a great deal open for others to build upon; unfree, or permission, cultures leave much less. Ours was a free culture. It is becoming much less so’ (Lessig, 2004). It might be ignorant, or idealistic of me to think that these free or shared cultures are a real possibility, but I believe the world was designed for collaboration. An experiment conducted by Professor Alice Roberts, publicized on the BBC Two Horizon programme, showed that when working together on a task, human babies share out uneven rewards fairly. It is, therefore, instinctive, even as infantd, for people to want to communicate and cooperate with one another.

Creative Commons is one step closer to this reality of a shared culture. Teoder Mitew discusses the architecture of participation, suggesting that ‘the former consumers are now also the biggest producers of content’. This integration of production and consumption allow individuals to create and consume at the same time. They allow for a new level of creativity. If anybody can create content, everybody should create content, because the more creators there are contributing to the world, the more the collaboration process can evolve and succeed. ‘No one person, no one alliance, no one nation, no one of us is as smart as all of us thinking together’ (Stavridis, 2012). The world will not eventuate into much at all if we build up walls that stop dialogue.

More generally, order may remain when people see themselves as a part of a social system, a group of people—more than utter strangers but less than friends—with some overlap in outlook and goals. Whatever counts as a satisfying explanation, we see that sometimes the absence of law has not resulted in the absence of order. Under the right circumstances, people will behave charitably toward one another in the comparative absence or enforcement of rules that would otherwise compel that charity’ (Zittrain, 2008).

Admiral James Stavridis, the Supreme Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, has the perception that while we search for security by building walls and isolating ourselves, we are actually losing security, suggesting a new paradigm of security being found in connection and collaberation with other people. He suggests that, ‘Instead of building walls for security, we need to build bridges’ (2012). Although laws and other legalities cause ‘walls’ to be foundational in something that seems justified such as security, the dialogue between members of society should be priority as it is what brings about a true shared culture, which would in turn create the most stable society.

My challenge is that we should stop looking inwards, forever being subdued by our arrogance which causes us be over defensive of everything we create, and rather look outwards into the world that we are living in, and attempt to transform it into a shared world, flooded with free cultures.



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