from the is-this-useful-or-not? dept
That said, Nancy Baym points us to an interesting analysis of piracy in the context of "language of spectacle", by Gabriella Coleman, and how that can help drive political messages and involvement:
But what keeps me interested in the politics of piracy is how it can speak the language of spectacle, which can be a powerful tactic and technique for broadcasting a political message. Here I'm just paraphrasing and cribbing the work of Stephen Duncombe, who has argued, I think quite persuasively, that we cannot rely solely on reasoned debate for building political programs. Duncombe does not argue that we must toss out rationality and truth seeking (these are absolutely necessary) but notes how on their own or if not clothed in some other cloak, they may not be enough to convey and compel, especially in this day of total media saturation. Or to put a but more poetically by him "Reality needs fantasy to render it desirable, just as fantasy needs reality to make it believable."It's an interesting thought, and it gets me thinking. Folks like Bill Patry make compelling arguments that the use of moral panics and folk devils with words like "piracy" distort the debate in negative ways, but Coleman suggests that by embracing that term, people may be able to build a stronger case on this particular issue. Which seems more compelling? Or is it a combination of both?
Much (though not all) of contemporary digital piracy follows the logic of spectacle. It builds and conveys a fantastical drama of right and wrong, of new possibilities, of freedom from the noose of the law; it signals and speaks to the thrill and fun in twisting, even breaking, existing structures and constraints; and provides a window into another way of acting/behaving. In many cases what it provides is a commons (and I will be exploring it in depth in my class next semester on the commons) and many folks, I imagine, turn to piracy simply for the free stuff, and a number of them come out of the other side transformed into copy fighters willing to engage in a politics beyond sharing stuff and waving the pirate flag.