A Culture Both Plastic and Critical Discussion

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Questions to facilitate to discussion:

1.)  Benkler discusses current liberal political theory's handling of culture (or lack thereof)--what is his solution for this? Can liberalism be reformed in order to allow a more open culture without changing to Marxism?

2.) He argues for cultural freedom because of its ability to criticize. His study of Barbie within Google is particularly noteworthy, as it seems to connect what the people want with what the people get, in contrast to Overture's pay-to-get-to-the-top format. Is this difference one of the reasons why Google has become the most popular search engine? Also worthy of noting: Google's page results have since changed for Barbie: http://www.google.com/#hl=en&q="Barbie". Now, except for the occasional somewhat negative news article, only Wikipedia's article is the voice of criticism on the first page of results. Has the cultural freedom simply led to stronger consumeristic tendencies? Or are market forces putting more effort into Internet searches? Whatever it is, is this a loss for cultural freedom within Google's framework?

3.) He says "we must find a way to cut, paste, and remix present culture" in order to make this culture our own and help with our current needs. Looking at artistic works we've seen this semester in addition to our own works, how have they helped fulfill a need?

4.) As with any discussion that involves politics with open source culture, I wonder what could be thought of as an ideal political environment for open source culture. As production costs lower and the barriers begin to fall, what will change politically? Benkler even notes that "cultural discourse is systematically not amenable to formal regulation, management, or direction from the political system" and goes on to say why. Does this mean that this "regulation, management, [and] direction" will be broken down in order to introduce cultural discourse into the political system?

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