The restricted community

2 07 2007

Some discussion recently came up when the SLCC organizer announced their media and community rules. Now the most discussion was actually about the community rules which are of course more or less common sense. The only thing I worry about is that if there’s a reason to print them out there might be something wrong with the audience. It’s the same problem I have with places where there are lots of CCTVs – instead of feeling secure I feel more insecure because there seems to be a reason why you need them.

IMHO a simple friendly reminder that people should be respectful in whom they make photos of might have been enough. It should be clear to everybody anyway that they should not damage any property and that the organizers have the right to remove people from the conference if they misbehave.

The rules for journalists
Now what worries me more are the rules about doing media coverage. Any recording of the panels and tracks is prohibited and only Phreak Radio has an exclusive contract to record and rebroadcast these.. Now I am very very very unhappy about that.

I couldn’t attend SLCC last year and thus was sitting at home in front of my computer in Second Life and watching it there with some friends at Timeless’ house. Of course not everything was streamed and the stream wasn’t always on but you had at least an idea of what was happening there, could see some people on the stage and so on. Still I though some more coverage might be nice.

So this year I am attending and thought about making all better, help with filming the panels, try to get as much footage out of it as possible to share with those not being able to attend. I also thought about doing a or coverage attempt if bandwidth and time allows (as there isn’t an official video stream this year).

But with the recent announcements I can forget that. That’s very sad indeed as I usually want to share the cool stuff I see with others and hopefulle discuss it with them. In this case I think it’s even more important for those not being able to attend. Additionally it spreads the word about Second Life and what it is all about. So IMHO the door for people who want to jump in should be as wide open as possible and not closed.

And there is another point. Jennifur Peregrine says in this comment that “some track leaders have expressly stated that they do not want their panels or tracks videotaped”.

Now I wonder what sense does that make? Do you have something to say? Do you want to reach the biggest possible number of people or not? I think you should! And I think people would want to listen. And they want to attend as much as possible even if they are not able to make it.

Summarizin I think if this is a community convention and the word “community” does not only mean those 400 attending but the whole SL community (not everybody has the money to come nor is there space for all of them), then media coverage should be as open as possible.

This stuff needs to be shared on every possible channel by every possible person in their respective communities. Make it findable on YouTube, on flickr, on, on etc. Moreover this does not really fit into these YouTube/Creative Commons/Open Source times..

As Nicholaz Beresford notes here: “Well, being an cc/open-source/tekkie type I’m sure not thrilled by these kinds of rules. But trying to gain control over content is Zeitgeist, but I think it is an uphill battle and the problem will solve itself.”

Unfortunately we have to wait for that a bit more.

There are also some questions which I still would like to know more about:

  • Will the sessions be videotaped at all? (If so I hope they have a camera person who also zooms in sometimes. Would make it more useful)
  • Will the footage be released? (of course without the “forbidden” footage)
  • Why actually is there an exclusive contract with Phreak Media? Why not let everybody help spreading the word?
  • What are these union regulations all about? Are people not allowed to film what they want at their own conference? Why doo other conferences do not have these problems?

I also think that video is important btw. It gives a better feeling if what was going on there. MP3 is also ok but more as additional medium maybe.

All in all Second Life stands for me as extension of Web2.0 but it seems at least the convention is not really in that tradition. To me it sounds a bit too much regulated and more like “commercial” but not like “community”.

Now I don’t want to make the surely big amount of work of the organizer not bad or so just this regulations don’t feel that open to me as Second Life feels. Maybe I am also not used to such restrictions. I usually visit Barcamps and Open Source conferences such as EuroPython, Plone Conference, Sprints etc. and media coverage was never a problem. In the case of barcamps it’s even part of the whole thing. So maybe it’s just my expectation that the SLCC is sort of the same thing and this was wrong.. Certainly it’s not the future of media.

Update: Jennifur commented on Pownce that some negotiation with Phreak Radio might take place tonight. Will keep you posted.




13 responses

2 07 2007

Hey Tao.
I can understand your frustration. We all share it, regarding the ability of people to stream sessions out. Fact is there are roadblocks and regulations that prevent this including Union rules that pretty much require a union rep to operate every video recording camera – at $65 per hour with an 8 hour minimum. So each person who would want to stream video would cost us $520 each per day. The rules are much less about retaining rights and more about protecting ourselves from lawsuits, maintaining cost control and keeping out of trouble with unions. Not to mention the fact that we are working on a hotel network not optimized for high bandwidth needs. I know your next question and the answer is we chose the hotel because it best suited our many criteria. No place is perfect but this is the best compromise in al areas.

As for the community standards … there is nothing wrong with the audience as a whole, but we recognize people are paying a lot of money to come to the event and we are doing all we can to make sure we all get the most of it. I can promise you no one will be sitting at panels with a stop watch timing comments … but everyone always grumbles when that one guy ambles without a point for 5 minutes and takes up the entire Q&A period. We thought of that, and told our moderators to keep it on track. As far as harassment goes, I think it is our job as the organizing body to put out there in the open that we expect folks to be civil and respectful to each other. It’s not too much to ask. And you are right … we should not have to. But we are. Please be civil and respectful everyone. Thanks.

Final thought is that you are right. A lot of people have put in hundreds of dollars and volunteer hours. You are also right that this is not free and open like SL. We have organized events, panels, speakers, topics, food, lodging, entertainment … if people wanted an anarchical / CC / open event you can certainly do one. We have decided to insert structure and with that you loose some ‘free feeling’. Again we are doing the best we can with the feedback from the last few years. I personally appreciate your comments and know I take yours seriously and to heart.

2 07 2007
Tinsel Silvera

Hey Tao. I haven’t been following the SLCC setup nor do I travel in the circles of most of the participants. However I used to live and work in Chicago and one thing I do know, Chicago is a union city. And if you want to do business in Chicago, then you are respectful of the unions. As for all the other decisions the SLCC is making, I leave those comments to more knowledgeable people than I.

2 07 2007

Thanks for your comments and thanks Randy for explaining these thing. That union thing wasn’t clear to me as I am not american (I actually wonder if something like this can happen in Germany, too).

But please tell me if this is a general issue or just with a hotel. I hope not a general one as I guess new media would have some sort of crisis then.

I will hope for next year then because I know how it feels if you cannot attend in person and it would be cool to help that feeling which many people will certianly have now. Will there be at least audio recordings then? Because I wouldn’t like to lose such discussions and information.

As for hotels I still hope for them to arrive in the 21st century someday…

Regarding barcamps or Open Source events it’s not that they do not have structure and e.g. food etc. just a bit different organized. In fact Open Source conferences I’ve been to have been very much organized in terms of tracks, panels, food and speakers. Maybe that note was misplaced but mostly meant in context of posting these rules and the feeling I had when reading them. I also do not have a problem with those rules in itself as they are (I said it) common sense anyway.

So thanks again for coming back to me! Maybe we can redo panels then in the park 😉

3 07 2007

Well I hope you go and look at the new post on the slcc blog. I am putting up a note regarding pres and their ability to capture video for journalistic purposes and use in journalistic pieces. This meaning you are free to capture small segments of video for use in publications, just not entire panels. Hope that addresses some of your questions and concerns.

Oh and unions … all over the place, not just this hotel.

3 07 2007
Slim Warrior

Don’t think that this only applies to photography or filming at SLCC. take a read of this..

SL Music Blog


3 07 2007

Thanks, Randy.

Can still somebody explain this union thing more in detail to me, like
1. When exactly is it needed to hire a professional camerman?
2. How do other conferences handle this (like all these on ustream, all those panels/tracks posted on YouTube etc.)?
3. How was it handled last year?
4. How does this interfere with video blogging or new media in general?
5. How can this problem be circumvented in the future? like next SLCC

And regarding the exclusive contract with Phreak Radio, why is this necessary? Because of those regulations? And it would also be good to know what Phreak is actually doing exactly.

I also think that these issues maybe should have brought up a little earlier so that maybe solutions could have been found (which includes the contract problems the musicians have now).

And IMHO the goal should always be to enable as many people as possible to record, rebroadcast and stream events like this live to reach the maximum of people.

All in all of course it’s now a quite unhappy situations.. New media guys like me and the participating musicians are unhappy, the organizers are unhappy because of the recent reactions from the participants and all of that might make not the best mood. But I certainly hope that all of this can be sorted out (sort of at least) so that we still have fun at SLCC.
Mainly I think communcation between all parties need to take place very soon esp. between musicians, TFU and Phreak Radio in order to sort out all those issues, to define what is really needed, to make sure that nobody wants to rip off anybody and so on.

But I am optimistic that this will somehow be possible to achieve.

3 07 2007

Slim, I wonder what musicians in general think about being recorded on video and published e.g. on YouTube (without selling it, obtaining any further rights etc.). Music might still be different than talks but then again it’s also free advertising.

(but that’s slightly off topic, just being interested).

4 07 2007
Komuso Tokugawa

People should at least clear things with musicians before they post on youtube, blink or whatever service, rl or sl/virtual filmed [as some machinima makers have done with me in the past]

The “problem” with a lot of the content sharing sites is that many people are unaware that by uploading they have assigned a chunk of IP rights to the website company…something not a lot of people seem to be aware of.
It is unlikely they will do something to monetize individual content as the main model is to act as flypaper for advertisers, but the potential is still there.

As for the SLCC live music content licensing debacle, I have to wonder about the motives of the so-called organisers of a COMMUNITY convention.

I understand how much work goes into organising events [it is a dirty thankless and largely unacknowledged task], I know people make mistakes under pressure etc etc.

But these media and community rules, along with the strong-arm release BS going on with the SLCC Live musicians leaves a very bad smell.


See my blog [and slims] for further comments on the issue.

tc, kt

5 07 2007
Prokofy Neva

I’m COMPLETELY unpersuaded about this invocation of unions. And I can’t help thinking that ignorance, amateur insularity, and unwillingness to challenge whatever union rules/contracts were invoked by the hotel or whatever other party invoked them are all factors here.

Wait a minute…Phreak Radio is a non-profit entity or a commercial entity? Future United is non-profit or commercial? Who profits? why must the exclusivity be granted? Phreak Radio is supposedly a media entity — and a commercial entity! — that has exclusive broadcasting rights, yet it has to hire union workers? It’s not doing it’s own film work (as was done by volunteers at SLCC 2)? Is this a hotel requirement? Isn’t this so vital to the conference that other options should be sought?

We’re just not getting enough information here, and what’s happening is that these buffoons are letting lawyers, hotel soup Nazis, unions, and their own ignorance whipsaw them all over the place — if in fact they aren’t invoking these things because they wish absolute control. It’s highly suspect.

Please don’t be discouraged from asking LOTS of questions about this Tao from push-offs like “it’s unions” or “it’s how the law is in the U.S.”. This is all bullshit. People put on conferences and film them all the time. Something’s up here, and we need to push to find out what indeed *is* up.

6 07 2007
Nobody Fugazi

Heh. I had no idea that there were unions for cameramen. That said, a group of well organized subversives could play tag and capture segments as individuals and the entire panel as a group. “Got my 10 minutes! Tag!”

Just saying. Union rules exist for a reason, but… wow.

And all of this for a bunch of people in RL discussing SL. heh.

6 07 2007
Eric Rice

I would like to hear from Chris Pirillo, who has had conferences at 1. Casino/Hotel 2. Convention Center as well as the organizers of Podcast Expo at a Convention Center and also, Tony Perkins, who puts on the high dollar $3000 a head conferences at Stanford University and various hotels. Then there is the interactive part of SXSW, which seems to have moved even more in the direction supporting new media.

Those conferences are in media spaces (blogging, podcasting, vlogging), where every little thing is documented and posted online nearly instantly.

7 07 2007

“Community” events should belong to the community, and be open to the community.
If this were instead a paid event– a performance, in other words– I can understand the restrictions.
I hope in the future, events are clearly labeled “Community” or “Performance” so there is no misunderstanding of purpose or intent.

7 07 2007

Well, I am still interested in getting answers to all these questions, not so much about the SLCC details but how it is handled with other conferences (e.g. did the speakers had to sign something to publish their talks under a Creative Commons license?) and so far nobody yet has explained to me the union stuff in detail (I asked now on #plone on IRC to learn a bit more about it. Seems unions in the US are a bit different to ours).

There is surely many things to discuss about the issues which recently came up but I think I will probably better discuss it in person at SLCC in order to come up with a better solution for next year (like no fees for recordings, streaming for everybody, Creative Commons Licensing for the media stuff. Music is difficult of course esp. if covers are in the mix but we might find a solution there, too).

For now I will prepare my trip to the EuroPython conference next week where filming etc. is hopefully no problem (although it’s in a hotel, too, so who knows. Not in the US though).

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