Tag Archives: Creative Commons

Jentasmic! on Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

25 Mar

The Those Darn Cats bookclub is reading one of my favorite books about Disney World, Cory Doctorow’s Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. So, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that this week’s Jentasmic! at StudiosCentral references not only this great book, but also xkcd, Plato, and the Creative Commons license under which this book is distributed online for free.

The book takes place in a future where technology has conquered death, famine, and all kinds of material want, making earlier corporate and social models obsolete, and casting timeless philosophical questions into a new light. What makes us who we are, mind or matter? What is the nature of the soul? And are audio-animatronics truly central to our experience as Disney Parks guests?

Yes indeed: That last question is arguably one of the central questions of the book. You see, Doctorow’s not just a casual Disney fan; his writing demonstrates not only his love for the Parks, but also his understanding of the conflict inherent in re-imagineering attractions to leverage new technologies and improve Guest experience, while still retaining the essential nature of the attraction and its nostalgic appeals.

So what are you waiting for? Go download the book, either in text or audiobook, and get your geek on. We’ll be discussing it on Those Darn Cats sometime in April.

Mickey Mouse: Teaching Tool for Evolution

25 Aug

Boston.com brings us a story from the New York Times (which requires login) of a Florida teacher using images of Mickey Mouse to teach evolution:

A former Navy flight instructor not used to pulling his punches, Campbell fought hard for passage of the new standards. But with his students last spring, he found himself treading carefully as he tried to bridge an ideological divide that stretches well beyond his classroom. He started with Mickey Mouse.

On the projector, Campbell placed slides of the cartoon icon: one at his skinny genesis in 1928, one from his 1940 turn as the impish “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” and one of the rounded, ingratiating charmer of Mouse Club fame.

“How,” he asked his students, “has Mickey changed?”

Natives of Disney World’s home state, they waved their hands and called out answers.

“His tail gets shorter,” Bryce volunteered.

“Bigger eyes!” someone else shouted.

“He looks happier,” one girl observed. “And cuter.”

Campbell smiled. “Mickey evolved,” he said. “And Mickey gets cuter because Walt Disney makes more money that way. That is ‘selection.’ ”

Later, he would get to the touchier part, about how the minute changes in organisms that drive biological change arise spontaneously, without direction. And how a struggle for existence among naturally varying individuals has helped to generate every species, living and extinct, on the planet.

What a wonderful companion piece this is to the news that vintage images of our dear little rodent may in fact be public domain! Leaving aside of course the stormy politics over teaching evolution, and of Florida’s decision that it must be taught, I’m sure there are plenty of teachers out there who could develop innovative curriculum using Mickey’s familiar and appealing image, and perhaps even distribute that curriculum under a Creative Commons license.

There are good reasons for intellectual property to make its way into the public domain. And it is, of course, ironic that the Mickey Mouse Protection Act may not in fact have covered vintage Mickey at all.

(Hat tip: BoingBoing.)

Mickey’s Infinite Copyright

25 Sep

David Goodger has posted some great, subversive graphics in protest of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, aka the Mickey Mouse Protection Act.

(Re-distributed under the Creative Commons license posted here.)

Looks like this would make a great t-shirt, eh? It might be a bit tricky to stencil . . . but since it’s open-source, it’s licensed so that you can modify and redistribute, as long as you comply with the license terms linked above.

Mickey’s infinite copyright is particularly ironic in light of the fact that many Disney classics never could have come to pass had similar protections been in place to protect folk tales such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella, all of which were published first in the Kinder- und Hausmärchen, aka Grimms Fairy Tales, but had previously circulated in un-protected, re-distributible form.

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