Hi there tout la gang,

We don't have much to say about research in practice at the Café right now

but we are talking policy and practice over here now: Literacy Enquirers.

Monday, February 9, 2009

infernal machines

Greater participation in shared culture enriches that culture; it does not deplete it. Freedom in this digital age includes the ability to have unrestricted access to public goods, which in turn produces more public goods. Laurence Lessig (among other things, founder of the Creative Commons) has explained this phenomenon at a TED conference on the strangling of creativity by protective intellectual property laws. Lessig frames the problem as a war between the read-only culture induced by copyright laws and an emerging read-write culture wherein creativity is democratized by access to and re-use of prior artistic works.

Stanford professor Larry Lessig, the Net’s most celebrated lawyer, cites John Philip Sousa, celestial copyrights and the "ASCAP cartel" in his argument for reviving our creative culture.

If we agree that literacy is culture and that culture is read-write, and the process of creating culture includes mashups and remixes, and that "Culture is not a finite resource" ... why are we allowing people to talk about literacy like this?:

The causes of the literacy market failure can be traced to a few simple facts. ...Markets only work well when both buyers and sellers have a clear idea of the costs and benefits that would be associated with the purchase of additional literacy skill and this is clearly not the case with most Canadians, or their policy makers.

Can literacy skills be purchased? If so, who are the buyers and who are the sellers? Would any of us describe the work in which we engage as a commercial transaction? Or any kind of transaction at all?

Would any of us apply the ethic of the commons, so appropriate to finite resources, to the infinite resource that is human intellectual and creative capacity?

Would any of us describe our work as part of the read-only culture?

Or would we describe it terms of the creative commons--the mashup, the remix--where people come together to share and develop their intellectual and creative gifts both individually and collectively?

The failure to fund literacy programs and projects in ways that meet the needs and dreams of Canadian communities and individuals is not a market failure. It is a failure to listen, a failure to be inclusive and a failure to be respectful. It is a failure to recognize and value the riches that already exist within those communities and individuals and it is a failure to learn how those gifts are activated and mobilized. It is a failure of the imagination.

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