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Automating Invention is Robert Plotkin's blog on the impact of computer-automated inventing on the future of invention and patent law.
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June 23, 2005
Who "writes" a reality TV show?
WBUR reported this morning (the same story is being covered by Reuters and others) that the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has launched a campaign to gain a labor contract for writers of reality TV shows. Reality TV producers are objecting to such a contract, in part on the basis that the people seeking a contract aren't "writers."
What's the connection between this and automated inventing? Consider the following (from the Reuters story):
Instead of writing dialogue, reality TV writers say they help craft the overall sense of story. According to the union, this includes casting, creating scenarios, conducting field interviews and guiding the postproduction process so hundreds of hours of video end up with a meaningful beginning, middle and end.
For that reason, video editors feel they are equally deserving of WGA coverage.
"These stories come together in post (-production) -- stories are pulled out by us, in collaboration of course with storytellers -- but we're in there creating stories so it's a logical conclusion to be part of the Writers Guild," said editor Donna Egan, who also is helping organize this campaign. "A lot of it is just about having basic benefits -- health and pension. We have to change the system because the system isn't going to change voluntarily."
Is someone who works on a reality TV show a "writer" because he or she creates the environment in which a reality TV show plays out? This is similar to the question whether someone who writes automatic script-writing software is the "author" of the resulting scripts, or whether someone who writes automatic machine-designing software is the "inventor" of the resulting machines.
Whatever the answer to these questions, now at least I can justify watching "Fear Factor" as a way of conducting research into automated inventing.
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