Week 4 of Coursera’s Metaliteracy course is entitled “Ethical Use of Information”. The main materials for the week are a great series of videos called “Everything is a Remix”. It shows, in a multitude of examples, how ideas and even content are remixed and re-used, built upon, edited, etc., all as part of new creations. And for me, it leads to a kind of intellectual conundrum. If, in many spheres of life like science, the goal is to build off of the efforts of others and to advance learning, how do you do that while respecting the intellectual rights of others in an ethical way?
The remix videos are great, and worth watching even if you aren’t taking the course. The remastered version is below:
The other readings and the assignment for the week are a bit more mechanical, and not very well done. For example, the first assignment question is about whether or not you can scan or take a pic of a calendar you have on your wall that has a cool astronomy photo on it, and then share it online. I don’t much care for the Q as there is no ethical gray area, it is not even legal. If they REALLY wanted to make it an ethical issue, the question would be if you could take a picture of it to include in a review of some sort (and thus triggering fair use for review purposes). Otherwise, the answer is relatively clear (no, you can’t).
The second question was to consider finding three things on the ‘net of different sources, and outline a proposal for how you could “remix” them together to create something new. And then run through some of the concerns (ethics or legal) in doing so, plus the intent behind the remix. I liked the idea of doing something astronomy-related, including as my first element a print from a Mikmaq artist (http://thomasclair.com/moon-new.php) that I received as a gift:
(linked from the Artist’s website).
My second idea was to include one of my own moon shots:
And then perhaps adding in info from the Maps of the Moon site (https://cseligman.com/text/moons/moonmap.htm) to label how some of the existing features are thought to look like the woman or the western tradition of a “man in the moon”.
Note of course that this is just a thought exercise, we weren’t actually doing it.
Overall, I thought the remix videos were good, but not sure the week really met its objectives. I feel they need to take the licensing, ethical and remixing pieces and revisit them as a single week, with the focus first on the ethical and remixing elements, with the licensing part as a specific sub-element. I felt we went backwards this week.