Archival Transitions

In mid-July 2009 Wikinews published an article claiming that the National Portrait Gallery in London threatened a U.S. citizen with legal action since he had allegedly breached the museum’s copyright of several thousands of photographs of works of art. Apparently, the young American Derrick Coetzee had come up with a program that automatically would download high resolution imagery from the National Portrait Gallery’s website, images that Coetzee as a regular contributor to Wikimedia Commons uploaded to the site. Wikimedia Commons is the database of free-to-use media that Wikipedia writers use for illustrations; today the database contains some five million photographs. The digital images that Coetzee uploaded were exact digitized reproductions of artworks, drawings and older photographs. Since the holdings of the National Portrait Gallery consisted of mostly older material, Coetzee considered the digital reproductions to belong to the public domain and thus free for public use under United States law (where he and Wikimedia Commons were based). The crux of the matter was that copyright to digital reproductions was claimed to exist in the U.K. where the museum was situated. Hence, in “a letter from [the museum’s] solicitors sent to Coetzee via electronic mail, the National Portrait Gallery asserted that it holds copyright in the photographs under U.K. law.” They demanded that Coetzee provided undertakings to remove all of the images from Wikimedia Commons.


Continue reading my article, “Archival Transitions: Some Digital Propositions” – fortcoming in Media, Popular Culture, and the American Century (eds.) Kingsley Bolton & Jan Olsson (Stockholm: KB/John Libbey Press, 2011) – here.

Moving Data – a forthcoming book on Apple’s iPhone

Together with my colleague (and friend) Patrick Vonderau I am currently working with a book project devoted to Apple’s iPhone. The fortcoming book, Moving Data. The iPhone and My Media will be published by Columbia University Press early next year.


Less than two years after its release in 2007, the iPhone has become a significant symbol of change in media engagement worldwide. Integrating communication and location services with motion pictures, sound, music, text – and millions of software applications – Apple’s smartphone is fulfilling its promise as an all-expandable mobile media machine. As the world’s fastest growing innovation platform, with over 50 million customers worldwide and more than 10.5 million apps downloaded daily, this handheld invites one to constantly consume, produce and share binary code. The iPhone offers to connect and transmit, to talk and watch, to play and listen, to choose and buy, to search and organize, to measure and store – and by doing so, translating all these practices into media experiences.


Welding together urban cultures, social media and mobile connectivity, the iPhone attracts users with embodied experiences of movement through the everyday. Yet what do the dynamic personalization of media and their constant movement of data imply? At a time of rapid technological change, this is a question pervading industry boardrooms, university classrooms and popular culture alike. Our book will contain a mix of critical and conceptual papers exploring the iPhone as a techno-cultural prototype, a platform of media creativity, and a lifestyle gadget. Moving Data thus will contribute to salient debates in media and cultural studies by providing a survey of existing and fresh research. The idea is to confront prevalent claims of newness and usability with systematical and theoretically informed arguments. In addition, we will attempt to analyze the relationship between digital information accessible via the iPhone and the protocols governing its access and use. For instance, how does the design of participatory media relate to technological features and routines of sharing – such as the global availability of high-speed WiFi? To what extent are haptic pleasures of a gesture-based interface, and a 3.5-inch display with touch controls, challenging conventional notions of media usage and experience? Moreover, how are ideas about user-led innovation, collaborative mapping or creative empowerment to be understood and reconciled, if at all, with techniques of mobile surveillance, personal rights and prescriptive social software? What about the economy of the app store and the perceived ‘crisis of choice’ in the digital era? And finally, in what ways might studying the iPhone contribute to the analysis of digital media, the history or philosophy of media technology, or to a theoretical understanding of media as data?

The YouTube Reader for free!

YouTube is the very epitome of today’s digital media culture. The platform has rapidly developed into the world’s largest archive of moving images, promising endless opportunities for amateur video, entertainment formats and viral marketing. This is the first comprehensive book to study YouTube as an industry, an archive and a cultural form. Bringing together original contributions by renowned scholars from the US and Europe, The YouTube Reader critically discusses the potentials and pitfalls of “broadcasting yourself.”


The YouTube Reader was recently re-released with a cc-license. Download the book for free here (6mb).

The YouTube Reader on the Web

When the book on YouTube was released, Giovanna Fossati curated an online exhibition on a dedicated site related to the publication, entitled YouTube as a Mirror Maze.


Please visit the site here.

Om Citizen Schein i Kunskapskanalen

I programmet “En bok, en författare” på Kunskapskanalen intervjuas jag idag om boken Citizen Schein. Den fick ett överväldigande mottagande när den publicerades i våras – här finns ett axplock med pressröster. Harry Schein förefaller fortsatt beröra folk, och i intervjun med John Chrispinson talar vi bland annat om just Scheins aktualitet idag.


Intervjun med mig kan ses i UR Play här.


I samband med boklanseringen gjorde vi också en spännande sajt, ett slags webbinstalation, som förtjänar lite mer uppmärksamhet. Sajten finns här.

Citizen Schein är den snyggaste boken 2010

Igår tilldelads den bok jag gav ut i våras om Harry Schein (tillsammans med Lars Ilshammar och Per Vesterlund) det Svenska designpriset i klassen redaktionell print bok. Motiveringen lyder: “En svunnen tidsepok som man vill veta mer om. Snygga bilder i en väl vald form väcker nyfikenhet och läslust.” Boken ingår i KB:s serie Mediehistoriskt arkiv som jag driver sedan några år, men priset är mest ett erkännande av det enorma arbete som KB:s projektledare Tomas Ehrnborg lagt ner på Scheinboken, men framför allt Bok & Forms Jens Anderssons lika flinka som eleganta design. Att Jens var bra visste jag – nu är han till och med bäst.

Om piratboken i Vetenskapsradion: Forum

Idag sändes en längre intervju i Vetenskapsradion: Forum apropå såväl hovrättsförhandlingarna beträffande The Pirate Bay-målet liksom vår bok Efter The Pirate Bay. På KB hade radions Urban Björstadius och jag ett tämligen omfattande samtal som redigerats på ett snitsigt sätt. Det kan avlyssnas här.

På nätet rasar ett kunskapskrig – SvD Kultur

Ett av de märkligaste bokprojekten som publicerats på sistone är James Bridles tolvbandsverk ”The Iraq war”. Det hela är en exakt transkription av alla artikelversioner under rubriken ”The Iraq war” på Wikipedia. Från december 2004 till november 2009 handlar det om 12000 ändringar på sammanlagt 7000 sidor. Alla omarbetningar, meningsutbyten och opinionsyttringar, alla resonemang, all skiftande statistik och alla inlägg – från ”Saddam Hussein was a dickhead” till sofistikerad geopolitisk argumentation.

Som en av nätets allra mest populära sajter är Wikipedia ett slags gigantisk, pågående kollektiv kunskapsprocess. Sajten är inte bara en arena för kunskapsproduktion, utan också en kulturell diskussionsscen av sällan skådat slag.


Läs fortsättningen av artikeln på SvD Kultur.

Om TPB i Studio 1

Med anledning av den artikel jag skrev i SvD om fildelning och behovet av en offensiv nätpolitik blev jag inbjuden att prata i Studio 1 om denna frågeställning. Tanken från radions sida var att också ha med några politiker – men tyvärr fick de inte tag i någon alls. Inslaget går att höra här.


Adam Svanell har också skrivit en recension av vår piratbok i Expressen.