Welcome to the first blog post where we are now discussing Algorithmic Control!
Algorithms are what control what content we could see. Take YouTube for example, if you watch a video on how to bake a cake, chances are there are going to be more videos in your recommended about cakes, baking and baking cakes. Sometimes the algorithm can take you to completely different videos that are not relevant to the sort of videos you watch such as ‘how to craft a cake in Minecraft’, kind of the same but in a different context and your recommendations will thus change again.
When it comes to Algorithmic Control, there are four basic parts;
Lets first discuss about Industry
When we say industry in this context, we are referring to large big companies that have a large span of control over such content. For example Disney; Marvel is currently owned by Disney, Lucas Film is also owned by Disney, they even have an 80% stake in the sports channel ESPN. Its practically guaranteed that whatever you you watch on TV are owned by one large company, same goes with news papers.
Back in the ye olden days before copyright, everything that had been created by a person could be modified, copied and sold by others. This was because all ideas were considered public commons. You might ask ‘Why bother creating anything if there’s no protection for the creator?’. Well there are many inventors and creators that are very well known today if it wasn’t for their work, which had been created a long time ago, such as Shakespeare’s plays and Newton’s Law of Gravitation; content was much more open rather than restricted today. If Nils Bohlin patented his three-point seat belt invention, the very one that appears in most cars today, chances are you’d be only seeing them in Volvos.
These days there are many sorts of copyright
Digital Rights Management (DRM): Controlling access to content; what place, location and at what time. This can be used through encryption and licensing.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA): Makes it so circumventing any or a DRM a criminal offence
End User License Agreement (EULA): An extended ‘contract’ if you will; expanding copyright control. This can be seen when you create an account or install an online game – you accept the EULA and receive the permission to play said game.
When there is scarcity, there is value. When there is copyright, there is artificial scarcity. The industry’s aim is to have complete control over the content they produce. Want to use the same thing as another company, but its licensed? Theres going to be a huge fee, because they also want to protect the ideas and possible uses of the information.
But, there is no scarcity inherent that is present in digital content and does not cost anything if you want to copy it.
When it comes to Creative Commons, it is much more lax compared to DMCA and DRM, as if you use something that is labelled under ‘Creative Commons’ you can pretty much use it for anything that isn’t to do with a commercial/business context. This practically means you can distribute it for free, and you must not charge people to use the same content you got which was under Creative Commons, otherwise you might get into a bit of legal trouble.