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I've recently been thinking more about ownership of creations online. I remember a time online where people were encouraging others to spread their creations and repost them and use them freely because they did not care about having their name attached, it felt just nice having created something that others like and would use. You felt proud seeing it used on others' pages, a part of you traveling through the web. The whole culture of spreading graphics around, like the dolls and a variety of blingees.
I think with the state of capitalism at this point and the normalization of extreme copyright laws as well as virality and what comes with it, there's been a change in that. I think hobbyists see how hard professionals have to guard and protect their work because for them, it means clients, it means money, it means survival. I totally understand the struggle professional creators go through to be recognized for their hard work, however I have found myself confused at hobbyists copying the same behaviors. I wonder if it happens because people do not see that many artists online have to behave this aggressively because it is their livelihood, not because all creations have to be treated like that.
Personally - I really do not find myself caring about what happens to the creations I share online because I recognize that once it is there, I lose control over it and it will be saved, shared, used in AI training and so on; so maybe I simply cannot relate and I am an outlier. You can save my graphics and steal my website code. So far I created everything by hand on my website aside from the Win95 screen and the Paint interface, the credit for these is linked in the Start Menu, and some generated titles. The small list gifs are free gifs whose source is long lost, as usual with tiny pixel graphics. I am currently creating my own in Aseprite, but they're not done yet.
I assume I think this way because I don't rely on it for money. My work is separate from my hobbies and I do not wish to monetize my hobbies. Is this maybe why some hobbyists are very afraid of their work being taken without credit, or built upon, or changed? My girlfriend rightfully pointed out to me that in times of easily going viral because of an algorithm, having your name attached to your hobby project could instantly mean being able to build a business that could potentially bring you more joy or more money than your current job, and could change your career trajectory. A lucky break could mean your release from the drudgery in your usual job and elevate your living standard. In times of a lot of financial suffering and inflation, I guess this need to ensure at least a possibility of such lucky break by having a direct link to your identity matters. And I do get it, people build their portfolios online for when they might change their mind and do make a career out of it, and until then, they are hobbyists. I think I get that. Especially when nowadays, you almost cannot escape the push to create a "side hustle".
But I also miss a little bit when people didn't have to be so protective. Credit is a courtesy, however I've seen a trend in going overboard and even preventing reposts with name and link to the original attached, among other things. I think it is another symptom of a hurting society. If everyone had enough - enough freedoms and money to be comfortable - would we have to be this way? I can't help but feel reminded of Anarres and Urras, as I am currently reading The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin.
I read an extremely uncomfortable rant on Neocities today about basically having to protect Neocities from people of social media, especially carrd users, because seeing Neocities as another carrd alternative would ruin it and everyone switching is just stealing code and graphics left and right. And if you're using a premade template, you're misusing Neocities.
I found it pretty mean-spirited, presumptious, and gatekeeping :( Neocities is just a hoster.. you can create the webrings and clubs you like to keep surrounding yourself with people who share the same vision and artistry as you, but as a simple hoster, it will attract people of all kinds and I thought we were over the whole "I'm a true __ and liked it before it was cool and real __ would do __" that people do as teenagers with all kinds of fandoms.
I think the best way to learn has always been to copy others and build upon their work. Debugging code often involves getting 1-3 lines of code from someones stackoverflow post. You wanna know how something is coded, you use Inspect and learn. Learning to draw often involves recreating art or tracing someone elses work, or using it to create your own pallette from it. We get inspired by others' art and you can see influences in all kinds of media. When I learned 3D modeling, I followed along someone elses recorded creation before I made my own - and even then, I recreated real world items that were made by someone else in real life, like a soda can or a chair. Geocities, myspace, piczo, all kinds of dead sites - it all lived off of saving cool graphics you saw and combining them into something new on your page. You saw the same thing on multiple pages with no credit, clearly not made by them, but it was used so differently, and I liked seeing that. I'm not sure I could create a website that does not take design elements from others before me, unknowingly even, especially if it is just a variation of lots of squares with text, as so many websites are. I want to learn how to make music, and I will most likely start with playing around with and combining pre-recorded bits by kind people offering them for free until I understand how the software works and what I can create by myself.
Yes, I get it, in all of these, you don't go around parading that you made this yourself 100% and don't try to monetize it either, but still. Those surely exist, however I have yet to come across that on NC. It is often very clear what is their creation and what isn't on a particular website, and a simple display should, imo, not be taken as a declaration of "this is mine".
I'm kind of sad that instead of feeling proud of ourselves that others share our things and use it and it seeing it as a compliment, a form of culture or as a common good, capitalism has made it so people feel hurt, attacked and threatened; their livelihood in danger, having to compete for jobs and likes, having to game the attention economy, having to be scared their work gets misused or misattributed, the fear of missing out on a big break when you will finally be (more) free. I think it would not happen this way in a society that takes care of eachother and would not pit people against eachother over who gets food and a roof. I also think it is sad that we still have people growing up in a mindset that others should not have it easier than them and should have to go through the hard parts they did - voluntarily or not. Some seem to think others have to prove something to them by adhering to their self-created standards (like a website 100% from scratch from the get go, 100% own graphics etc.) that have nothing to do with the other people. Let people have their training wheels, they were not taken from you, you just didn't decide to use them, and this does not elevate you.
I think people like that try to keep the spirit of the old web alive on Neocities by wanting it to be handcrafted weird/retro looking sites only, but ironically, extreme gatekeeping and capitalist mindsets about free graphics and unmonetized hobbywork is not really in line with the spirit of the old web which was not yet infested with a million businesses and ads. Just because it is handcrafted and looks old, does not mean it is keeping a spirit alive that you mentally connect with that aesthetic.
I think right now is a great time to switch away from multimillion dollar businesses that do not have your best interests at heart, that violate your rights, host awful content, and are responsible for democracy eroding and fascism rising, plus supporting at least one genocide - and instead go to places that align with your values. If we want people to instead keep their accounts (and keep feeding the algorithms putting money into these questionable CEOs pockets) because they can't code well yet and have been taught by Pinterest and Weheartit that stealing and pretending it's yours is ok for a moodboard, that would be insanely sad.
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