Johanna Blakley

Media | Entertainment | Fashion

Archive for February, 2011

On the Road . . . Touting Fashion & Free Culture

I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately in order to give talks about the fashion industry and it’s unique remix culture. I had a lot of fun at the Free Culture Conference at New York University last weekend. I was on a terrific panel with two women who are exploring fashion’s free culture from some pretty surprising angles. Lana Swartz is a PhD candidate at USC right now, but her master’s thesis at MIT was about  tight-knit, counterfeit luxury fashion communities online. Lana raised some marvelous questions about “fakeness” in fashion and brought to light a fascinating community of fashion obsessives who know so much about the originals they fake, that their copies may (arguably) feel more authentic than the real thing.

It was a great pleasure to meet Nora Abousteit, who spoke about the evolution of BurdaStyle, a very successful “open source” online pattern sharing community. I was especially interested to hear her story because I had read a few articles about the false copyright claims that commercial pattern makers have long made. “End users” — sewers — are frequently warned that they may not make for commercial production any garments based upon the patterns they’ve purchased because those patterns are copyright protected. But if you look at the court records, there seem to be no cases of this sort that have been pressed. Why?

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My MSNBC Interview about Social Media & Gender

I often get calls from cable news networks, but they usually want me to weigh in on the latest trashy celebrity non-news: When they have stories about Paris or Lindsay, they think of me.

Well, I always say no.

But this week, I finally had the chance to talk about some of my own research on MSNBC. I thought for sure they would want to grill me about the provocative thesis I presented at TEDWomen: Social Media & the End of Gender has raised quite a few hackles on the TED.com site, and the last time I checked, the talk had received more thumbs down than thumbs up on YouTube. So I prepared myself for attack.

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My TEDWomen Talk is on TED.com!

On stage at TEDWomen

I gave a talk in December 2010 on Social Media & the End of Gender at the first ever TEDWomen conference in Washington, DC. It was an unforgettable event, and I was pretty terrified to find out that I was scheduled to speak right after Madeleine Albright.

I had incredible conversations with people after the talk: I was really worried that people would be very skeptical about my thesis (how on earth would social media bring about the end of gender?) But the hyper-connected audience at TEDWomen didn’t bat an eyelash. “Of course!” they said. Let’s see if you agree . . .

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