Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Barbie AI: "Has Anyone in Your Family Married a Clown, Barbie?"

For some strange reason, I was under an earlier impression that Barbie was available with a 3D printer. I sent this tidbit to my comedic friend who said she wanted one so she could print a new boyfriend. When I did a search for such an announcement today, though, nothing came up. Was this my own imagined conversation?

In contrast, I just read the Sunday NY Times article about the work on the forthcoming  artificial intelligence (AI) featured Barbie, which manufacturers hope to release to the market for this year’s holiday sales:

The sophisticated development follows the path of other intelligent response systems by capturing interactions with the product with humans, then storing and analyzing the responses into a database, along with potential responses to the questions or remarks.

If you’ve ever called a real-time help desk, you are also likely to have benefitted from this type of a knowledge database as the help-desk person looked up your question.

This same protocol can be used for smart tutors/assistants in learning applications.
And it makes sense for the goals of a customer helpdesk or learning support.

But back to talking with toys, their companionship, and the potential to shape behavior. Toys have been the training ground for generations, in addition to providing diversions.

And yes, many of us had imaginary dialogue with our toys, creating both sides of it, and unless an adult was in earshot, the conversations went on without record. And then there were the pull –the-string-talkers—ok for a limited while. Of the later toys, one of my favorites was a teddy bear that had a mic, and could repeat whatever you said to good old teddy. My son and daughter each had one—our son would laugh into one, and then face the one bear to the other so they could have one extended ha fest.

Though drawing from her database in a timely fashion, Barbie AI’s programmed responses are drawing on former conversations and ring of the invasion of privacy. To other degrees, a person has to ask whether it’s a good idea to have Barbie harvesting your child’s private thoughts, worries, or genius.

I think of a wunderkind I know, and think of her questions:

“Barbie, I think I want to marry a clown when I grow up. Followed by, “Has anyone in your family married a clown?”

"Barbie, my toy birds are singing to the dead. What songs are they singing?"

I am amused to think how Barbie might respond. And I weigh in by thinking this child’s thoughts are priceless, and, as yet, unincorporated.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

OER, Fair Use, and Fair Practice Part III: Flickr Commons and "No Known Copyright Restrictions"

This post explores the difference between using an image under Flickr Commons Commons under fair use vs. commercial purposes.

As I shared in the first post on this topic, I explored Flickr Commons in search of a photo to use for a canvas I was creating for the Jazz-on-Film-with Friends, a memento of a private gathering at my home. 

And here is what I learned from that part of the journey. In the creation of the canvas, I was focused on the use of a Billie Holiday photo I'd found at Flickr Commons under the terms of fair use. And it did answer the following four conditions under fair use:

1) Purpose: The piece was for my personal, non-commercial, non-educational use.
2) Nature: the use of the image from the film did not embody the central intent of the film, and it was used to create something different from the original.
3) Amount: the image on the screen was only one frame of a nearly two-hour long film.
4) Effect: This personal memento would not affect film distribution.

Yet I was struck by the used of the phrase at the Commons, "no known copyright restrictions":

In reading the fine print, I learned that in the case of these wonderful photos by photographer Gottlieb, he donated his work of something like 1600 photographs of the golden age of jazz. He denoted that as of 2010, these works would go into the public domain, with the exception of those which had already been published by other source.

So here is what it meant for the photo I'd just placed on the canvas above. It had been published by Downbeat magazine, so I wanted to do something commercial with it, I most likely needed their written permissions because the image constitutes a whole work by Mr. Gottlieb.

Upon returning to the Gottlieb collection, I did find this image of Billy Holliday, one not published by anyone else, and since it was 2015, it was truly in the public domain.

Image Source: Library of Congress. Gottlieb Collection. ”Portrait Billie Holiday at Carnegie Hall Between 1946 and 1948.”:

Once again, here are some resources: (A very helpful Creative Commons 4.0 Fair Use Checklist can be found at the Columbia Site.)

Next: What do the various levels of Creative Commons Licensing mean?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

OER, Fair Use, and Fair Practice Part II: Defining Copyright and Creative Commons

In an earlier post, I shared the story of trying to add a photo to a canvas I wanted printed and the refusal of a big box store to do so, even though I was printing the piece for personal, not commercial purposes. Some background to this discussion involves defining copyright, and then moving to other key terms such as Creative Commons licensing and then back again to Fair Use. Common Craft a creator of some great explanatory video offers these two:



While copyright and trademark were established to protect the right to make one’s living by products created, Creative Commons gives creators such as academics the rights to share their products with others, while retaining credit for their contributions.

Stay tuned for more posts on Copyright, Creative Commons, and Fair Use issues and practices.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

OER, Fair Use, and Fair Practice Part I: A Personal Saga

My own saga of Fair Practice, Fair Use, and Open Ed Resources has been years in the making.

As a faculty member, I have spent years articulating the ethic of giving credit to others’ contributions, teaching about common knowledge and citation.  I was thrilled when Creative Commons came along. Then stepping into various non-academic sectors which include art and mashups, I was submerged, caught, whatever you want to call it.

I’ll begin with a personal saga.  For the past four summers, I’ve invited friends over to watch jazz documentaries outside in our yard. One day as I was feeling sentimental, I thought I might make a canvas memento for our house. So I took this photo to Walmart and got this response:

They could not print it for two reasons: I was using a screen shot from the film and the use of the image was not its intended purpose and then there was the QR. I shared that the screen shot was one frame and this was for my personal use only, and that I created the QR myself (It opens to the YouTube Channel where I’ve bookmarked documentaries available on YouTube.) No dice. I would have to bring back a statement that assured the technician that I could use that one frame in a photo.

So home I went to learn more about Fair Use, which provides the guidelines for when copyrighted materials can be used by others without permission from the original creator of the work.

In the meantime, I looked up the conditions of Fair Use to confirm the conditions for my personal fair use as defined by there criteria: “purpose, nature, amount, and effect.”

1) Purpose: The piece was for my personal, non-commercial, non-educational use.
2) Nature: the use of the image from the film did not embody the central intent of the film, and it was used to create something different from the original.
3) Amount: the image on the screen was only one frame of a nearly two-hour long film.
4) Effect: This personal memento would not affect film distribution.

But I was not about to go back and re-enter the world of a narrowly-trained employee,, sympathetic as I was to her state of employment.

So I delved further and started looking for a copyright-free jazz image in the public domain.

Enter now, my introduction to Flickr Commons, and the addition of the Billy Holiday shot and the QR to this photo of the screen in my back yard, which I then  sent to an online vendor who printed it onto canvas.

Look for a future post about the conditions in Flickr Commons.

Sources: (A very helpful Creative Commons 4.0 Fair Use Checklist can be found at the Columbia Site.)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Love and Mercy, Treating Mental Illness, and Psychiatric Research

Last night spouse Rick and I went sent to see Love and Mercy--a Bryan Wilson biopic: Parts are hard to watch because of the level of verbal abuse he experienced. But the power of the story is to watch a musical genius function and survive w/ a serious mental illness. We saw him perform after this period and thought he was downed out--when you see the clip of him at the end of the film in his current life, you realize his is the face of someone who has survived a terrific battle. 

Today, a news piece on the NY Times pops out at me by a clinical psych prof who talks about the lack of funding for psychiatric research to forward the treatment of PSTD and better comparison between old and new effective medications and procedures ("Psychiatry's Identity Crisis" NYT Sunday Review, p. 5:

Rick and I were talking about the the old labels and the realization of complexities of disorders that are not easily defined by the labels. This is the second post in NYT in recent weeks--the last was about the treatment of traumatic brain injuries and some of those inconclusive results when combined with PSTD.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Best of Free-Range, Experiential, and Cross-Cultural Learning

Some of the best learning comes with food.  Which is what drives my sharing and explorations. Treated to amazing family banquets in northeast China when our son married an amazing woman from there, we ate tasty dishes of pealed peanuts which had been boiled in five spice mix. Back in the states, our friends with Southern heritage treated us to boiled peanuts which they pronounced “bowled peanuts.” So I am learning to cook them for our Chinese relatives when they come to visit. And how would I best describe this effort? Establishing  the spirit of community through food is so positive. Of value is our opportunity to recognize common points  of culture or practice as we invite them to what are considered to be new experiences.

In my own learning, my dear friends showed me where to order the peanuts at They gave me directions on how order, soak, and boil the peanuts in a crock pot. Our daughter-in-law shared how seasoning Chinese Five Spice is part of the preparation she knows.