unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
Addendum to that recent whine about how politicians have a responsibility to get educated about the internet: "mainstream" media need such education at least as badly. The internet has become crucial not just to many people's personal lives, but to the functioning of whole societies. There are very many people who don't have the time or the inclination to read a slew of tech news RSS feeds, and established news outlets have a responsibility to bring their audiences comprehensive and correct information about important internet-related events.

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unjapanologist: (fetchez la vache)
Japan has passed a new law that criminalizes unauthorized downloading and copying, even for personal use, of copyrighted music and video. That means that by October, anyone who illegally downloads a song will be committing an offense worth maximum two years of jail time. The new law also mandates high fines for illegal downloading, up to two million yen.

Much of the Japanese- and English-language internet seems in agreement that this new law is not a good idea (here, there, everywhere). I'd just like to add that the new punishments for illegal downloading are so out of proportion with the severity of the offense that this law is completely counterintuitive, and therefore doomed. Nobody is going to understand these new rules, meaning that nobody will follow them. 

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unjapanologist: (Default)
The protection and people's awareness of copyright are said to reflect the degree of cultural development of the country, and therefore, copyright systems should be understood by a wide range of people.

That's how the Copyright Research Information Center, a Japanese government-authorized "public service corporation", starts out its introduction to copyright for beginners. The Japanese version of that sentence is:

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unjapanologist: (Default)
Not doing much writing at the moment. I'm busy reading up on open source licensing and open source project management for research purposes and more personal reasons (I'm getting involved in an open source project and want to be more useful). So, have another video!

The general gist of this talk is familiar: how secure we feel often doesn't match how secure we actually are. But it's a very good summary of exactly where this discrepancy comes from, when it's most likely to occur, how it persists, and what we can do about it. I love videos that summarize everything worth remembering about a given topic, and point out how it relates to other issues in ways that seem obvious in hindsight but just didn't occur to me before. (More rambling after the video)

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Like the link between incorrect perception of risk and the very existence of modern media that's pointed out here. There are a lot of news outlets that make a deliberate effort to sensationalize everything, which makes people feel that one-in-a-million occurrences could very well happen to them. That seems obvious. But it's not just sensationalist news that skews our perception of how likely we are to get personally involved in some freakishly rare event; it's the very concept of news media. The more we hear about something, the more we assume that it's likely to happen to us as well, and the whole idea of news media is to tell everyone about happenings that were extraordinary. Things that were rare enough to be newsworthy.

In a way, every single thing that ends up in any kind of news is sensationalist. No matter how dryly and objectively a quality media outlet manages to report on something, it's still going to make us more likely to feel that this something might happen to us as well. You can get a pretty good idea of the kind of risks you run in a certain place just by living there for a while, but once there's a newspaper to tell you of the things that happened in Other Place, you start overestimating the likelihood that those things could happen where you are. The problem isn't that bad news outlets scare people for no reason, it's that news outlets (quality or not) exist in the first place. Which isn't to say that we shouldn't have news, of course, just that we need to keep in mind that no matter how carefully we select our news sources, news is always going to be sensationalist by its very nature.

(Applying this to an example that's relevant to me right now: my advisor is organizing a conference here in Kyoto in November, and there were almost no responses to the call for papers from outside Japan, while she normally gets lots of those. The only explanation we can think of is that people are afraid to visit Japan because of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. This seems incredibly weird from my point of view. However, even those who have only read the most non-sensationalist and accurate descriptions of the nuclear crisis are still going to overestimate the risk of coming to Japan, because they've been bombarded with news about Fukushima while hearing nothing of the situation in the other 46 prefectures of Japan. Even if we inform them now that Kyoto is hundreds of miles away and completely unaffected by the disaster, and they believe us, they're still going to overestimate the risk of coming to Japan simply because they've heard Fukushima mentioned more often than Kyoto.)

Anyway, most of this talk isn't about news media at all, but that was the part that jumped out to me.

Found via Sociological Images.
unjapanologist: (Default)
My definitive admission certificate just arrived, so I can finally say out loud that I'll be leaving for Japan in April and stay there for two years to do research on the cultural economy of Japanese fanworks. I've been admitted to the doctoral degree program of the Graduate School of Economics, economic policy major, at Doshisha University in Kyoto. (Okay, I wanted to type all that out just once because it looks so damn impressive on the certificate.)

"Excited" doesn't begin to cover how I'm feeling right now. It's been seven years since I last got the chance to spend more than three weeks at a time in Japan. Nobuko Kawashima, who will be my supervisor, is one of very few Japanese professors who study the role of amateur cultural engagement in the general economy, and I feel incredibly lucky and honored that she agreed to take me on. Also, I'll be sharing a house with [livejournal.com profile] aoi_shu. Excuse me while I cartwheel.


unjapanologist: (Default)

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