Remix Culture and Lawrence Lessig

I’m finally getting around to reading something longer than an article or blog post by Lawrence Lessig. In preparation for my fall course I’ll be teaching here at Baruch College, “Information Research in the Social Sciences and Humanities,” (the course site from spring 2010 is still up), I’m trying to find more material that will make remix culture a theme for the course. This three-credit course has essentially the same learning goals you might create for a one-shot course for a first-year composition class; the real difference is that we get to take a deep dive into topics that we would only just skim in the one-shot.

This fall, my class will be part of the learning communities program here at Baruch, which means the twenty-two first-year students in my class will also be block scheduled so they are in other classes together. As part of this program, I am teamed up with another professor teaching one of the classes the students are taking, an introduction to ethics class in the philosophy department. The point of contact between our two classes will be issues of ethics; while the philosophy class is distinctly aimed at approaching ethics at the theoretical level, my class will delve into applied ethics. Specifically, I want my students to delve into the ethics of information use and reuse by having them try to delineate the boundaries between sharing, remix, reuse, homage, collage, plagiarism, originality, etc.

The music of Greg Gillis, better known as Girl Talk, will be the springboard for some of the discussions I hope to have. Gillis is known for building songs out of hundreds of samples of other songs. Last spring, my class talked about this for one highly productive day following our viewing of a documentary that features his work (RIP: A Remix Manifesto). I’m now reading Lawrence Lessig’s 2008 book, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy, to see if there is a chapter we might read in class. When I am done with that book this week, I hope to dive into Henry Jenkins 2006 book, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, for more ideas.

My Summer Projects

Personal Projects

  1. Port over the decade old content from my Teaching Librarian website into a new Drupal version.
  2. Finish editing of an article about McCarthyism and the central library of the New York Public Library. I’m hoping the journal editors will let me post a pre-peer reviewed draft online.
  3. Rework my syllabus for the LIB 1015 class that I taught for the first time this spring. Since my fall class will be part of the college’s learning communities program, my students (all first year students) will also be in a philosophy class (an intro to ethics course). The philosophy professor and I are looking for points of alignment between our courses.

Projects for My Co-workers and Me

  1. Expand my library’s collection of LibGuides.
  2. Work on ways to improve the answering percentage among the six CUNY libraries that share a group subscription to QuestionPoint (answering percentage is ratio that compares the number of questions your library puts into the cooperative service to the number of questions your library answers).
  3. Revise an old plagiarism tutorial.
  4. Write a proposal for a text message reference service.
  5. Rething the process of taking in requests for research consultations and for delegating them to librarians.
  6. Do usability testing of the union catalog shared by CUNY libraries.