Thursday, April 02, 2015

Cute "Ted Talk", where teen medical inventor Jack Andraka explores the open access and "knowledge aristocracy"; does tax code hurt artistic entrepreneurs?

A TEDx “Orange Coast” talk “Tapping into the Hidden Innovator” by Jack Andraka (book reviews March 18, 2015), about 8 minutes, brings up some important points about open access, YouTube link here.  Maybe embedding isn’t fair here, with the Roman toga and beefcake, and maybe this would make a nice short film for an Angelika pre-show, but the comments about whether there should exist a “knowledge aristocracy” do matter.  Paywalls, and bureaucracy surrounding peer-reviewed scientific papers do matter, particularly if other researchers don’t have the thousands to pay list price just to see previous work. That is what Aaron Swartz was fighting, “the privatization of knowledge”.
In my own novel, “Angel’s Brother”, I use the word “royalty” where Jack uses “aristocracy”.  And unfortunately or not, in the novel the “royalty” takes the people back and gets to live on.  (I even coin the term “erotic royalty”.)
There’s also the mention of “applied dreaming”, which could be renamed “lucid dreaming”, and that’s what the world of Christopher Nolan’s 2010 masterpiece “Inception” is all about.
But in the world that I grew up in, knowledge was indeed passed in hierarchal fashion. And that’s still the view of places like Russia and China, where there is concern that open access to certain things will interfere with stability (in Russia, it is perceived as endangering the birth rate).  There is a view that social solidarity is important in its own right for a group to survive, even if the aims at the top are not completely legitimate.

This would be a good place to mention a column in the New York Times, p. A21, “How the tax code hurts artists”, link here.  Add to that category screenwriters, actors, entrepreneurial filmmakers.  The problem is the way the Alternative Minimum Tax works.  
Pictures are from the NIH campus, Bethesda MD, my visit, March 2015. 

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