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visuals

It was delight to watch the two videos assigned for the class: Larry Lessig’s thoughts on copyright and Hans Rosling’s amazing visual graphs. The former illustrates his criticism of the current copyright craze with the three historical examples, which have taken notice of “the common sense”, by contrast with the current copyright guardians. In this regard, Lessig expresses his surprise that law and common sense have managed to find a common ground. As what concerns Hans Rosling, his ambition is to debunk the myth that statistics is a boring and non-aesthetic discipline. He is also the manager of Gapminder-a web project, which deals with the presentation of raw numbers in a visually comfortable milieu.

In their presentation, both speakers refer to some sort of historical change. Lessig speaks of two models: on the one hand “the model of a read-write culture” and on the other hand “the model of a read culture.” He argues that along with the technological innovations, which emerged at the beginning of the 20th century, the culture of “the developed world” has passed through a transition from “the read-write culture” to “the read culture.”

In this sense, Lessig emphasizes that the digital revolution can reinvent the read-write culture, but the copyright law is too restrictive. Thus, Lessig argues in favor of a compromise between the avid supporters of the copyright and the Internet users, who increasingly view copyright as an inflated concept. So far, his dichotomies seem to bear fruit. His model is clear and compelling. Nevertheless, I would argue that his view of the digital revolution is too idealistic. The fact that the generations prior to the digital revolution did not have access to a web of PC devices does not necessarily imply that previous generations were not creative. I think that they just expressed themselves differently. Thus, each generation has its own means of expression.

Regarding Rosling’s presentation, I would say that it is overoptimistic. Undoubtedly his manner of presentation is fascinating. The power of the moving graphs is immense. One can tell this only by listening to the reaction of the public. On the other hand, in order to design a spectacular graph one needs some spectacular data. So, the question is: where did he get his data? The answer is: he gets his data from the UN agencies, the same agencies that he is criticizing for their inefficiency. Undoubtedly, not all the data is corrupted and he is clear to state that his exercise refers to some general trends. In other words, his data is valuable, but only for his visual exercise. When it comes to a more detailed analysis of a particular region or country one needs to contextualize, as Rosling himself acknowledges.

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