Media in Transition 5: creativity, ownership and collaboration in the digital age (MiT5)

Venue: MIT Media Lab

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Event Date/Time: Apr 27, 2007 End Date/Time: Apr 29, 2007
Abstract Submission Date: Jan 05, 2007
Paper Submission Date: Apr 15, 2007
Report as Spam


Call for Papers

(submission deadline: Jan. 5, 2007)

Our understanding of the technical and social processes by which culture is made and reproduced is being challenged and enlarged by digital technologies. An emerging generation of media producers is sampling and remixing existing materials as core ingredients in their own work. Networked culture is enabling both small and large collaborations among artists who may never encounter each other face to face. Readers are actively reshaping media content as they personalize it for their own use or customize it for the needs of grassroots and online communities. Bloggers are appropriating and recontextualizing news stories; fans are rewriting stories from popular culture; and rappers and techno artists are sampling and remixing sounds.

These and related cultural practices have generated heated contention and debate. What constitutes fair use of another's intellectual property? What ethical issues are posed when sounds, images, and stories move from one culture or subculture to another? Or when materials created by a community or religious or ethnic tradition are appropriated by technologically powerful outsiders? What constitutes creativity and originality in expressive formats based on sampling and remixing? What obligations do artists owe to those who have inspired and informed their work and how much creative freedom should they exercise over their borrowed or shared materials?

One source of answers to such questions lies in the past – in the ways in which traditional printed texts – and films and TV shows as well – invoke, allude to and define themselves against their rivals and ancestors; and – perhaps even more saliently – in the ways in which folk and popular cultures may nourish and reward not originality in our modern sense, but familiarity, repetition, borrowing, collaboration.

This fifth Media in Transition conference, then, aims to generate a conversation that compares historical forms of cultural expression with contemporary media practices. We hope this event will appeal widely across disciplines and scholarly and professional boundaries. For example, we hope this conference will bring together such figures as:

anthropologists of oral and folk cultures
historians of the book and reading publics
political scientists and legal scholars interested in alternative approaches to intellectual property
media educators who aim to help students think about their ethical responsibilities in this new participatory culture
artists ready to discuss appropriation and collaboration in their own work
economists and business leaders interested in the new relationships that are emerging between media producers and consumers
activists and netizens interested in the ways new technologies democratize who has the right to be an author
Among topics the conference might explore:

history of authorship and copyright
folk practices in traditional and contemporary society
appropriating materials from other cultures: political and ethical dilemmas
poetics and politics of fan culture
blogging, podcasting, and collective intelligence
media literacy and the ethics of participatory culture
artistic collaboration and cultural production, past and present
fair use and intellectual property
sampling and remixing in popular music
cultural production in traditional and developing societies
Web 2.0 and the "architecture of participation"
creative industries and user-generated content
parody, spoofs, and mash-ups as critical commentary
game mods and machinima
the workings of genre in different media systems
law and technological change

Short abstracts of no more than 200 words for papers or panels should be sent via email to Brad Seawell at no later than January 5, 2007 . Brad can be reached by phone at 617-253-3521. Email submissions are preferred, but abstracts can be mailed to:

Brad Seawell
Cambridge , MA 02139

Please include a short (75 words or less) biographical statement.

This will be our fifth media in transition conference. The previous conferences were the inaugural Media in Transiton conference, MiT2: globalization and convergence , MiT3: television and MiT4: the work of stories.


20 Ames Street
United States

Additional Information

This conference is free and open to the public. Conferees are responsible for their own travel and accommodations.