Community Arcade initiative meetup

The Community Arcade team met yesterday, with valiant efforts from many members to show up despite illness, deadlines and other imponderable events. In the end, Scott and I shared a fascinating conversation about the partnership grant I am a member of as well as the broader topic commercialisation of ideas in the humanities and social sciences from the perspective of graduate students. Minutes and thoughts herein.

I was invited by Bertand Gervais (UQAM, Literature) to join a SSHRC Partnership grant project dubbed Littérature Québécoise Mobile (LQM). In addition to a dozen of researchers from universities in Québec and Europe, this project brings together a coalition of trade associations and publishers from La Belle Province. The goals are to (1) document, (2) support, and (3) take part in enabling the literary community to embrace the cultural, social and economic dimensions of the digital universe. The focus is on “self declared” book publishers and authors, in the classic sense. I will focus my energies on legal and institutional issues, thinking about topics involving copyright, legal deposit, public lending rights, libraries, metadata, and probably the kitchen sink. 

My main motivation to align my research activities to this partnership are twofold. On the one hand, I want to describe the current state of “cultural laws and institutions” in Québec, which is referred by some as the cultural exception à la française, implemented in the North American context. This is a unique opportunity to take a snapshot of “how things are” before they are swiped away by what I fear will be a neoliberal digital storm caused by online platforms, populist governments and, well, evolution. On the other hand, I want to confront “self declared” publishers to the realities of the digital world, essentially exploring the hypothesis that the digital universe has shifted the agency they may have had to exclude certains socio-economic agents from from their networks – I call this “supply-side” issues in cultural economics. Librarianship stems from the “demand-side” of cultural markets and confronts industry desires with the needs of communities. 

So, I want to describe at how things are all the while looking at how they could shift. Copyright law is my environment and open access is my hypothesis. Books are the object at hand but I sense that video games will provide for a meaningful counterfactual object to study. I’m already having a lot of fun just thinking about all this! (imagine this: last week, I was at a conference discussing digital kids lit and I asked questions about playfulness and games – which lead to some aha moments in the hallway! Here is the equation I proposed: ebooks + interactivity = game. Shocking!)

At this point, the conversation shifted to Scott’s projects. Of all the things we discussed, I do want to highlight a part of our exchange which centered on how a graduate student could leverage graduate work, research labs and the peer community to build a sustainable and ongoing initiative (let’s not call it a business) after having completed their studies. This meant aligning research contracts, thesis work, teaching gigs and other projects around the idea of transforming ideas and research projects into various forms of intellectual property. We discussed research ethics, open access mandates of tri-council funded research and, well, hacking neoliberal rhetoric using utilitarian theory in economics to generate a public good. 

As Scott aptly pointed out, this is exactly what I’m trying to accomplish with the Community Arcade initiative. You know, creating a physical object to hack very complex legal and institutional issues with an elegant solution. In a moment of self-reflexive criticism, of which I may one day become famous for, I declared that my single most important contribution to TAG would be to continuously fail at this, providing the fertile ground for others, namely amazing grad students to best this drunken master at his own game… 

Needless to say, you had to be there to really get the most from our dynamic and inspiring exchange !

The next meeting will be #######.

Ce contenu a été mis à jour le 2019-05-22 à 7:43 pm.

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