Category Archives: 09. the thought police

a. summary

Rep. John Haller introduces homeland terrorism preparedness bill


Academic knowledge has systematically been privatizated through corporate complicity and the business of patenting. But most importantly the corporatization of intellectual property jeopardises simultaneously our creative and political imagination in shaping reality.

It may not seem obvious, but as professors Michael Madison, Brett Frischmann and Katherine Strandburg put it, the university is a “constructed cultural commons.” The university system uses the commons paradigm to help many different people work together to generate new knowledge. It manages the flows of knowledge as a living system, and devises ways to store knowledge, improve it and introduce it to new generations. The university is a complex ecosystem of many smaller-scale commons, such as the graduate and undergraduate college, the school, the department, the library, the archive, the lecture hall and the seminar room. Anyone who lives within academia knows that the language of property rights and market transactions is quite alien to its ethos. A university does not buy and sell knowledge; it nurtures ongoing relationships of trust and reciprocity. It promotes sharing and collaboration in advancing knowledge. Well-regarded professors peer-review their rivals’ papers, for instance, without ever thinking of charging money for this service, one they also benefit from many times over. (David Bollier: Think like a Commoner, 2014: 72–73)

To conclude this chapter, we take a closer look at the digital commons. One of the things we notice is that tech companies realize that open networks naturally foster cooperation and sharing — yet their conventional business models are based on “monetizing” communities, not necessarily on serving their long-term or nonmarket interests. Thus, while Facebook and Google provide many useful services “for free,” they are also aggressively data-mining people’s personal information and selling highly personalized ads to markets that want to invade our minds as we browse the Web. Through its book digitization project, Google is also establishing itself as a privileged, proprietary gatekeeper for access to public-domain materials, to the detriment of competitors and the public. As such examples show, corporations only support “sharing” if they can make money from it. That’s not commoning.(David Bollier: Think like a Commoner, 2014: 125)

Such commercialization poses a serious threat to TK commons because people may be reluctant to contribute to a commons if they fear that their knowledge could be taken private and sold for money. “One man’s gift must not be another man’s capital,” as the anthropologist Marcel Mauss warned. (David Bollier: Think like a Commoner, 2014: 131)

b. Creativity & Collaboration in the Academy


USC & Norman Lear Center, USA
2010,  2 min 59 sec

In Spring 2010, the USC Office of Research asked the Norman Lear Center to lead a series of small faculty meetings on the topic of Creativity & Collaboration in the Academy.  In this talk David Bollier asks 3 important questions:

Who are the primary agents of change for stimulating collaborative research in the Academy and what strategy should they use? How can fledgeling projects and ideas in collaborative research be supported, scaled and sustained? How do we imagine new social roles and identities and what design principles should guide us?

What we need to realise it that this is about entirely new genres of knowledge that are being created, we don’t know the character of the social and institutional containers for them.

d. Astrotuf and Manipulation


Sharyl Attkisson, TEDxUniversityofNevada
2015, 10 min 36 sec

In this eye-opening talk, veteran investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson shows how astroturf, or fake grassroots movements funded by political, corporate, or other special interests very effectively manipulate and distort media messages. Sharyl Attkisson is an investigative journalist based in Washington D.C. She is currently writing a book entitled Stonewalled (Harper Collins), which addresses the unseen influences of corporations and special interests on the information and images the public receives every day in the news and elsewhere. For twenty years (through March 2014), Attkisson was a correspondent for CBS News. In 2013, she received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for her reporting on “The Business of Congress,” which included an undercover investigation into fundraising by Republican freshmen. She also received Emmy nominations in 2013 for Benghazi: Dying for Security and Green Energy Going Red. Additionally, Attkisson received a 2013 Daytime Emmy Award as part of the CBS Sunday Morning team’s entry for Outstanding Morning Program for her report: “Washington Lobbying: K-Street Behind Closed Doors.” In September 2012, Attkisson also received an Emmy for Oustanding Investigative Journalism for the “Gunwalker: Fast and Furious” story. She received the RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting for the same story. Attkisson received an Investigative Emmy Award in 2009 for her exclusive investigations into TARP and the bank bailout. She received an Investigative Emmy Award in 2002 for her series of exclusive reports about mismanagement at the Red Cross.

i. further research & reading


Stefano Harney and Fred Moten: The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning &Black Study (2013) [ see chapter 2: The University and the Undercommons ]

Jennifer Washburn, University, Inc. (2005)

David Bollier, Silent Theft (2002) + Viral Spiral (2008)

Charlotte Hess & Elinor OstromUnderstanding Knowledge as a Commons (2007)

George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932)

f. Monetization of Genomics


Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott, USA
2004, 5 min 06 sec 

Extract from the 2003 Canadian documentary “The Corporation”  Overview of contemporary patent dispute and usage related to emergent CRISPR gene editing process.

Professor Chakrabarty wanted to get a microbe that eats oil spills patented. He claimed he had modified this microbe in the laboratory and therefore it was an invention. The patent was denied, living things can’t be patented. Then he appealed to the US Customs Court of Appeal and overruled the patent office. This case was a major turning point in history.

It led to a one sentence decrete of the patent office: you can patent everything in the world that’s alive except a full birth human being.

h. The Truman Show


Peter Weir, USA
1998, 9 min 60 sec (fragment)

He’s the star of the show–but he doesn’t know. Jim Carrey wowed critics and audiences alike as unwitting Truman Burbank in this marvel of a movie from director Peter Weir (Witness, Dead Poets Society) about a man whose life is a nonstop TV show. Truman doesn’t realize that his quaint

g. Real-Time Face Capture and Reenactment


2016, 6 min 36 sec

We present a novel approach for real-time facial reenactment of a monocular target video sequence (e.g., Youtube video). The source sequence is also a monocular video stream, captured live with a commodity webcam. Our goal is to animate the facial expressions of the target video by a source actor and re-render the manipulated output video in a photo-realistic fashion. To this end, we first address the under-constrained problem of facial identity recovery from monocular video by non-rigid model-based bundling. At run time, we track facial expressions of both source and target video using a dense photometric consistency measure. Reenactment is then achieved by fast and efficient deformation transfer between source and target. The mouth interior that best matches the re-targeted expression is retrieved from the target sequence and warped to produce an accurate fit. Finally, we convincingly re-render the synthesized target face on top of the corresponding video stream such that it seamlessly blends with the real-world illumination. We demonstrate our method in a live setup, where Youtube videos are reenacted in real time.