1. Go over blog mechanics
  2. Expectations for short papers
  3. Evaluation percentages
  4. Boyle discussion

questions for discussion

**I have aggregated all the comments and listed them here.

In addition, key terms/points in Boyle we need to address and unpack in relation to both his social theory of information and our own:
  1. public / private dichotomy
  2. the public domain
  3. incentive
  4. romantic author
  5. originality
  6. distributive justice
  7. metaphors in use around information (ie "marketplace of ideas)
  8. frontiers/information grab
  9. property
We can add to this list in class.

As academics who can be both the victim and the perpetrators of “fair use” laws, how do each of us feel about the idea of un-sourced uses of information (aka plagiarism)?" -Rachel

Boyle (1996) makes a compelling argument about the complexities of ownership of genetic   
material. In the case of John Moore, his genetic material was unique enough to be of use to scientists.  At  which point does the “expression” of how our bodies made our genetic material become unique enough that we should be able to retain ownership of it?  In other words, when does our unique expression of genetic material outweigh the expression of use as prescribed by scientists?" -Rachel

Boyle’s book provides a “road map” for analyzing the social and political aspects of information regulation. He discusses some of the ways he would like to see our system change, but points the reader to the Bellagio Declaration as an example of how the current approach to IP might be revised. What did you make of this document (p. 192-200)? Do you think that its suggestions for change are consistent with Boyle’s analysis? - Jen

Our information society has changed since 1996. I think about big data, SOPA/PIPA, and the debate over who owns the online user information harvested by corporations like Facebook and Google. Boyle’s fear of “information overload” (p. 179-180) baffles me, but generally I find his book useful to thinking about current IP issues. In what ways, if at all, has Boyle’s “road map” helped you to rethink your understanding of current information issues? -Jen

Is it possible to include information production in the broader system of labor as understood by modern capitalism? How could information producers be compensated for that labor without creating disadvantages for their sources or audiences (if such is possible)? - Tiffany

The discussion of John Moore made me think about Henrietta Lacks, the protagonist of this year’s Common Reading Book and from whose cancerous cervix came the first “immortal” cell line. Lacks’ story is somewhat similar to Moore’s in that she never received full disclosure and thus was not able to give informed consent for the use of her cells. Further, neither she nor any of her family received any of the profits that resulted from the use of the HeLa cells (which, among many other things, were instrumental in developing a polio vaccine). I’m wondering whether, for any of these kinds of cases, it would be possible to think of these “sources” as part of the labor of creation of information? Or is that going too far? - Tiffany

I will fully admit to being a bit confoozled at present by the intricacies of information economics (Chapter Four). I don’t have a specific question as yet, but I’m hoping we can tease out how Boyle’s argument in this chapter plays out. - Tiffany

Primarily my concern is how do we (as conscious scholars) define the public and private sphere in this information society then? The division between the public and private sphere is getting hazy, with the deemed property rights (as an incentive for research), yet that would lead to what should we would consider "private" (such as our own genetic make-up) that would not be commodified and then sold into the free market. Is this a vicious cycle? With the increasing domination of neo- liberalism, is there any way to break out of this vicious cycle? - Somava

Further, Boyle indicates that the notion of authorship allows justification for such things as corporations to take well-known folkloric remedies from "third world" peoples and, with slight alterations, claim the intellectual property right to them with no economic benefits to the peoples from which they came. Check here to see the famous intellectual piracy case between several US companies and indigenous people in India. Would Boyle's examples of recommendation (p. 172) help overcome this problem? -Somava

How has the rapid corporatization of public universities further perpetuated dominant understandings of intellectual property? What are the politics that go behind being published in a university press or academic journal with regards to Boyle’s conception of the romantic-author? -Jorge

What social implications might arise with the further development of AI and transgenic technologies on the unsettled issues of human racialized and immigrant labor exploitation? Specifically, I am questioning whether the information age might provide a means by which human labor (and with it the politics of race, immigration, wage exploitation) might be eradicated due to a market-commodification of AI technologies? -Jorge

What might Boyle say about about recent developments in U.S. information systems, seemingly to be convoluted between the military-academic-industrial complex? In this post 9/11 society, where all electronic information is being automatically saved, does this neoliberal security state disrupt all forms of public egalitarianism?  -Jorge

Obviously I've been thinking of Boyle's text in relation to imperial power and data collection, something I consider at great length in my own work; what are the strengths and limitations of a narrative that preys upon fantastical fears of transgenic slavery rather than the lived realities of drone warfare (which relies on amassing private-access spatial data without consent)? -Annita

Similarly, limitations aside, what prescience does this text have for us as academics? None of us are going to be in labs curing cancer (as far as we know), but we are responsible for mass dissemination of ideas and 'intellectual property,' not to mention those of us who do ethnographic work and thus have a responsibility to operate in a manner culturally consistent with and sensitive to the communities in which we work. How (if at all) does this translate into our concerns as researchers/scholars/educators in terms of public/private bifurcations and knowledge production/ownership? -Annita

Although I certainly agree with Boyle’s argument I wonder what does “sensitivity to the needs of both sources and audiences” look like to the law? If language plays a huge role in interpretation, how would the law construct sensitivity, and how different would sensitivity look like to the needs of the sources and the needs of the audiences? -Lizeth

I am really curious to discuss the politics behind knowledge production in academic publishing. Why is plagiarism used as both a tool for protecting property rights and policing bodies? Think about the rules and regulations that exist regarding plagiarism, are they another form of social and intellectual control? -Lizeth

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