Treasures of Geocities/Big Brother in MY Kindle?

December 21, 2009 by

I had a couple of ideas for exploration, so I’ll post them both and see what people gravitate toward.

1.  Yahoo! closed down Geocities this past October.  In the 1990’s, Geocities was the introduction to webpage design for millions of users.  Its ease of use gave the average web citizen the chance to share vast amounts of new creative work.  Pictures, poetry, short stories and general ranting abounded alongside slews of “Under Construction” signs.  This talk would explore digital preservation concerns over the death of Geocities, and examine the tireless work of some creative individuals to preserve those documents.

The Internet Archive, Reocities, and Internet Archaeology are among the preservationists who took it upon themselves to save these early websites.  We could talk about how and why they achieved this, and perhaps have a fun look at some of what was saved.

2.  Over the summer, Amazon removed copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from users who had purchased them via the Kindle.  While Amazon apologized for their treatment of this copyright issue, the incident raises a number of questions.  What does personal ownership mean when it comes to digital works?  How will these issues evolve as electronic media devices become more prevalent?

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4 Responses to Treasures of Geocities/Big Brother in MY Kindle?

  1. Profile photo of fvanhorne
    fvanhorne on December 23, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Another idea I didn’t add above: I’ve taken a recent interest in the Librivox project, which has the ambitious goal of recording audiobooks versions of all books currently in the public domain. This is an excellent example of the open source movement bringing literary treasures to the masses in a new way. At their site, you can download a Charles Dickens classic to your Ipod and listen away. I’d love to talk about this all-volunteer movement and how it’s changing the digital literary landscape.

  2. Profile photo of Boone Gorges
    Boone Gorges on January 12, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    All of these ideas sound cool to me. I’m particularly interested in your topic number 2, as I’m fascinated by the way that digital artifacts push the concept of ‘ownership’ to its logical limits. I wonder if we’re due for some major conceptual overhauls of what it means to own something. I’m also extremely disturbed by the ways in which corporate interests have lobbied for draconian revising and enforcement of antiquated copyright laws. It’d be interesting to do a sort of analysis of the facets of traditional ownership (as applied to, say, the computer in my lap right now), and the extent to which each of those facets can/should be transferred to digital “objects”.

  3. Faith Van Horne on January 12, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    I like the way you’ve framed this issue. Taking “traditional” to mean “physical object”, one could analyze the differences between physical and digital objects, what rights are and should be preserved, etc. Thanks for the feedback.

  4. Profile photo of Boone Gorges
    Boone Gorges on January 12, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    No problem. This piece just came through my reader, so I thought I’d post it here, as it’s directly relevant to the idea of ownership over digital items: techdirt.com/articles/20100110/2302157699.shtml

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