Saturday, February 16, 2013

What is Plagiarism When Everything is a Remix?

pic via Brainpickings

"The modern concept of plagiarism as immoral and originality as an ideal emerged in Europe only in the 18th century, particularly with the Romantic movement." wiki

Is it time to rethink what Plagiarism is? If you ask me: Yes!

I just listened to the EDC week 03 Hangout and I think +Jeremy Knox touched on a very important topic concerning the digital artefact assignment. I have been seeing posts popping up discussing plagiarism and cheating. Quite frankly I've been avoiding them. To be honest to me as an artist / musician the notion of "original" is almost ridiculous. I don't think there are any ideas in this world, which are not build on other ideas. I think everybody copies and in fact copying is how we learn (something I posted earlier

The really important thing for me is, if there is synthesis in a piece of art / work.
I don't care if somebody (like I like to do) just puts a bunch of quotes together on a page, if the combination of these quotes trigger new thoughts and connections in the people who read them, in my opinion that is completely valid. Even if I am not explicit in making a  a conclusion and telling everybody what to think of it. For me if a new question emerges, that is synthesis enough.

There is only one thing I call plagiarism and that is not naming your sources.

But even here there are exceptions (traditionals even!) like in a art or music: nobody writes down sources in painting - who was the first expressionist? Who wrote the first I-V-vi-IV Progression?

Fun intermisson:

I think our new digital tools are actually providing us with something earlier scholars and artists would have died for: diving in an incredible vast pool of knowledge and being able to create through learning (copying and referencing) at this scale!

I am afraid that in this MOOC, because of the high percentage of people working in education enrolled, "the old ways" are creeping in all too easily. I was very happy when during the Hang Out +Hamish MacLeod mentioned that we don't know yet what MOOCs are. We really shouldn't press MOOCs into a certain box, that most of us are maybe used to and because of that convinced that this should be a guide. People working in education are still forced to assess and mark all of their students, and this constant assessment and marking people decides about the future of these people. I think the resulting responsibility causes a weird short circuit, and the consequence is that most of the teachers, like a lot of their students, are happy about a certain guiding principle they can rely on = at least students shouldn't cheat, that's the worst!  Because if this test decides about a student's future (which is an injustice and can never be fair) at least the conditions of the test should be just and everybody should have the same bottom-line to start off from (which also never is true). If it wasn't enough that this school system is unfair already, this approach also makes it really hard to see and acknowledge creativity and new ideas. I am not saying it's the fault of teachers, because like I said they are caught up in a bad system. I'm only saying that this bad system has more bad consequences than obvious at first glance. But for sure loosing creativity is a very sad price to pay, especially in a world that is now changing daily and where coming up with creative solutions and learning without a top down and previous set goal is essential.

My wish would be that first of all, we skip the grading completely and just turn the final assessment into a huge open peer to peer review/discussion, where everybody can join in and see all the artefacts. I think that would be so much more interesting. 
And second of all, I would recommend that to understand the new culture of remixing and creative commons, everybody should probably watch *Everything is a Remix* or at least Kirby Ferguson's TED talk (posted below). It is a well done documentary, which in my opinion, explains very nicely today's realization of the impossibility of a "original" following the new access to knowledge via the internet and the resulting paradigm shift in culture taking place right now.

Some other things I would like to mention:

I liked it very much when +Jen Ross was talking about, that coursera's platform is restrictive and I interpret that as a desire in part of the teachers to even more experimentation and openness. Love that!

Thanks for also mentioning that everything (forums,material etc) will stay up after the course ends as long as it is in the power of the teachers team. That's great! I hated that in my last MOOC, all the information students collected was thrown into the trash bin. That hurt.

+Christine Sinclair said something super important too: don't define everything because people sometimes are surprised, that they could fall in love with something they never thought they would.

The last thing I would like to mention is concerning the 'talking heads' lectures:
I love freedom of choice and talking heads, can't we have both? I mean everybody is different and needs different things for optimal learning. MOOCs and the digital platform could make taking what you need and finding your own way possible. Why not use MOOCs for exploring individual learning preferences? Digital makes it possible to provide material without restrictions of storing space even time, maybe students just have to learn that they don't have to read/watch all of the material? And that they should choose what keeps them most engaged? Like it was already done so nicely in this course:
There could be a core of material for each session for everyone to start off from and a lot of additional material in different forms. Maybe some rather read, some others rather watch or listen and some rather directly start discussing things together to run warm and get interested to learn more. I think what has to be highlighted again and again is that in the digital universe there is no limit on space. There could be all kinds of material to choose according to your preference.That could mean more work for the teachers (yes teachers will always be needed even when we start to learn from each other), but actually don't teachers always have so much more information to give than fits in "official schedules "?
(By the way I tried to google for Helena Petterson? No luck, did I get the name wrong? Can I get a link to the articles?)

I'm in the #medialabcourse too and I like that their syllabus is open to change and they keep adding material. I think there could be even much more open syllabus and adding!
In my opinion collecting and linking knowledge is the most fascinating and exciting project humanity is embarking on right now. It would be wonderful to have that reflected in MOOCs. Maybe there could be, apart from the forums, a hub for links to articles and material posted to all the sessions? I mean that apart from posting links into the forums, twitter, google+,  there would be another place without the discussions (to confusing but they could be referenced). Just a link list, with maybe one sentence describing what it is. Maybe a regular community clean up team could be necessary, because I think a simple organization would be helpful like 'scholar articles','lectures','blogposts','pop culture reference' or something like that. Sure there could be a "star" feature to highlight the most liked items but in a link list all the other interesting stuff wouldn't be buried completely like they always do in forums.Wouldn't it be wonderful to have all these links to material about the topic on one page like a summary?

Have fun watching: *Everything is a Remix*

"Remixing is a folk art but the techniques are the same ones used at any level of creation: copy, transform, and combine. You could even say that everything is a remix."
Kirby Ferguson

Everything is a Remix Part 4 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

Everything is a Remix / Kirby Ferguson Website


I just had to add two more links posted by my peers.

+Amy Burvall's awesome resources:  Remix Culture

and +Irma Walter posted a movie I had completely forgotten about:

Steal This Film!

#edcmooc #plagiarism #copyright #creativecommons #remix #digitalartefact #mooc #music #art #medialabcourse

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