Read-Only Culture vs. Read-Write Culture

In Lawrence Lessig’s book, Remixthere are two different types of cultures when it comes to absorbing media by consumers. On one hand there is read-only culture and on the other there is read-write culture. Lessig explains these two cultures in chapter one starting on page 28. He explains that a read-write culture is one that consists of people reading content and recreating it in their own way, or giving back in other words. This can be through music, text and other forms of media. If it is music, listening to the song would be the “reading” and remixing the song would be the “writing.” This is how a read-write culture operates. However, a read-only culture is merely just the consumption of media content, with no giving back. The fear was that a read-only culture would destroy the creativity of the people. One major factor that impacted the read-only culture was copyright laws. Once people were prohibited legally from using professional’s content, it became difficult for people to remix the media they were consuming. Read-only culture is primarily responsible for the rise of celebrity music artists, because their songs are copyrighted so no one can use them, therefore the money comes to those who own the copyrights. In the beginning of chapter 3, on page 36, Lessig gives examples of read-only characteristics such as watching a movie, reading a book, or listening to music. All of which are content protected by copyrights, but the key point Lessig makes here is that once we consume the content, we put it aside. These types of habits lower the interactiveness of a culture as a whole.

On a different note, the read-write culture has seen a bit of a comeback through social media and blogs. Consumers can use social media outlets such as Twitter to give feedback on their favorite music artist. Facebook can be used in the same sense, and friends can post their comments on other’s posts for additional feedback. Blogs play a big role in read-write culture because consumers of professional media can give their own thoughts about the content, and those who read the blog can comment with their own thoughts. The process of reading the professional content and reusing it in your own words or expressions is what Lessig refers to as Remix. This is the heartbeat of the read-write culture.

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