Patent Trolls, Gnomes, and Unicorns

By food stamp

This weekend my radio dial serendipitously came across this amazing podcast on This American Life.  Broadly, Ira Glass looks at some of the absurdities of U.S. patent laws and rights; specifically how venture capitalists buy up patents without developing the ideas commercially and then wait until someone else develops the technology and then sues them, essentially becoming a “patent troll” (something similar to what “sample trolls” have done to hip hop artists).  This effectively runs against the grain of the idea behind all intellectual property rights: encouraging creativity and competition that ultimately benefits consumers/society while giving authors/inventors financial compensation so that they can continue to innovate.

Specifically, this podcast examines the complexities of software patents, which many open source software engineers, as well as organizations such as the Free Software Foundation, oppose (i.e. or this great piece on throwing away software patents).  Because open source programmers fear the proprietary and innovation stifling of patents, some are advocating for Defensive Patent Licensing (DPL) as an alternative. While there are not a ton of great resources out there dealing with patent like there are for other forms of IP, I’ve found IPWatchdog to be a great source for patent information. If you find the This American Life podcast intriguing, then you will want to watch Patent Absurdity and get your knowledge up.

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Ma Bell, I got the ill communication

By food stamp

The history of telecommunications is littered with issues surrounding mergers and takeovers, and at many points in its history triggering antitrust concerns.  The AT&T and T-Mobile merger is just another instance of this. What will this mean for you as a consumer? Will you be able to use your iPhone with T-Mobile service? Will the lack of competition (basically giving 80% of the market to two large conglomerations) drive up the cost of your monthly bill? If the merger goes through, is this another case of our government catering to needs of big business over the needs of consumers?

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Saturday Morning Cartoons Were Never Like This, but David Harvey is as Cool as Transformers

By food stamp

What do I say about this? Cartoons and a lil’ bit Marxism never hurt.

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Did the Gift Economy Ever Leave?

By Food Stamp

Great lecture from last year by Graham Murdock. This guy was rocking one of the sickest all-red suits I have ever seen in person during his talk. I recorded this and wanted to share. This is just part 1. You can view the rest on my YouTube page.

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Exploring Hollywood’$ Bank Account

By Food Stamp

A few years back I gave Hollywood Economics by Arthur De Vany a light read and it really opened my eyes as to how volatile and straight up risky this industry is. And maybe, well, Hollywood likes it.  For all the book’s merits it is dry and “numbery,” of course what you’d expect from an economist. So, I thought that this NPR podcast, entitled “Crunching Numbers In The ‘Hollywood Economy’,” did work similar to De Vany but covered the economic theorem with sonic gravy, which made it a bit more digestable.

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I’ll Take My Consent Manufactured

By Food Stamp

I was thinking about the  propaganda model the other day on my run (I know, I know). I was mainly thinking about its relevance in the digital age, and if it’s dated or just played out. This thought was spurred by a recent uses and gratifications research presentation I saw, where I sat there thinking “so what?!?” for most of it. Not to hate on either, but, you know, at some point there has to be something else that is the basic intellectual drive for your work or else the chips start to get stale. No disrespect to these great ideas, either. But yo, what is a Rushdie anyway?

You can watch this entire lecture if you want.

Does anybody have any idea how this can be applied to entertainment media not just information-based?

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Obey, Consume, Stay Asleep…This is your God!

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