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David Bollier’s Viral Spiral: A Definitive History of Our Movement

Fred Benenson, January 26th, 2009

viralspiralPublic Knowledge cofounder David Bollier‘s new book Viral Spiral published by The New Press is not only available as free Creative Commons (BY-NC) download, but it will likely establish itself as a definitive guide for those seeking to understand and discover the key players and concepts in the digital commons. From the beginnings of the Free Software Movement, to Wikipedia’s Inception, to Lessig founding Creative Commons at Harvard Law School, Bollier thoughtfully examines the principles and circumstances that helped nurture our digital commons from idea to (meta)physical reality.

If you are looking for a book that both serves as an introduction to and argues for the ideals behind a digital commons, look no further. And if you’re planning on reading the book in the bed, bath or beach, purchase a hard copy at Amazon or other fine bookstores..

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Foodista: CC-Powered Cooking Encyclopedia

Cameron Parkins, January 23rd, 2009

foodistaFoodista is a new online destination for those interested in all things culinary-related. The site is divided into four sections – recipes, foods, tools and techniques – and is based around the idea that community knowledge and sharing can result in a better resource than one built by a restricted and closed group. As such, the folks behind Foodista have “developed a system to let everyone edit content to make it better rather than have multiple versions of the same recipe.” At its core, this system is based around a site-wide CC BY license.

By using our most permissive license, Foodista has laid the ground work for a site that is purely focused on collaboration and the growth of knowledge. A few months ago we posted about an article that articulates why using a CC BY license for recipes is a sound choice (recipes can’t be copyrighted while the expression of recipes can). It is a mindset Foodista has embraced and while the site is still in a nascent stage it is already showing great promise. Part of the fun about cooking is the inherent experimentation and reiterations recipes can go through. Being able to document that sort of exchange through the use of open tools is a welcomed resource.

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MixedInk: CC-Licensed Large Scale Document Collaboration

Cameron Parkins, January 16th, 2009

bMixedInk is a recently launched service that allows large groups of people to collaboratively work on a single document together online. While many sites of this nature exist, MixedInk seems to be the first to focus on large group collaboration and does so in a unique manner. MixedInk’s submission system is based on a Digg-like voting procedure in which users vote for their favorite draft – the final draft is therefore dynamic and can shift over time if a better draft is decided upon by the community.

MixedInk keeps this type of collaboration open and legally sound by requiring any documents created on the site to be released under a CC BY-SA license. This serves a practical purpose – the articles written offer no restrictions in regards to quoting or editing as long as the original author is credited – and also serves the auxiliary purpose of keeping the MixedInk community open and free, ensuring there are no legal barriers for creating the best content possible. There are already some interesting examples of how this system can be put to use, most notably Slate’s community written Inaugural Address where individuals can contribute and vote for the Inaguration Speech they would most like to hear President-Elect Barack Obama give this coming Tuesday. The top-rated address will be published at Slate.com on inauguration day.

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The Art of Community – Stories and Tips for Community Building

Greg Grossmeier, January 14th, 2009

The ever enthusiastic musician, community leader, and now author Jono Bacon has just announced his next Creative Commons licensed endeavor: a book published by O’Reilly on building, maintaining, and energizing communities called Art of Community.



The announcement posted on artofcommunityonline.org explains the project:

The book covers a wide range of topics designed to build strong community. This includes the structure and social economy behind community, building effective and easy to use infrastructure, setting up community processes, creating buzz and excitement, governance, conflict resolution, scalability and more.

The book won’t just be for people interested in Open Source communities, but instead the principles and concepts can be applied to any community: political campaigns, student groups, or even neighborhood crime watches.

When released the book will be available in print from your favorite supplier of O’Reilly books and will also be available online under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. Jono is a believer in Creative Commons licensing as can be seen from his music project Severed Fifth and the use of CC licenses for the Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase. Adding this book to his repertoire of CC-licensed content shows just how far one person can go when embracing the ideals of Free Culture.

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Working With Publishers and Creative Commons

Fred Benenson, January 13th, 2009

Books in a Stack by austinevan

Books in a Stack by austinevan

Artist, programmer, and now author Michael Mandiberg, has a fantastic post offering advice to authors interested in using CC licenses (and CC licensed work) for their books. Mandiberg’s recent book, Digital Foundations: an Intro to Media Design with the Adobe Creative Suite, is both licensed under Creative Commons and utilizes CC licensed media, so he speaks with authority on the subject. His first nugget of advice really demonstrates how progress authors have made while asking for the right to use CC:

1. Figure out what you want and ask for it
Every contract is negotiable. Choose what you want and ask for it. Do not be afraid to ask for it. In our case, we focused on getting Creative Commons licensing into the contract, but we also asked for and received other modifications, including a higher percentage of royalties after a certain number of books sold, a stipend to design the book and ownership of the book layout and design (which we licensed CC).

This is essential reading if you’re talking with your publisher about using CC, so don’t miss the 9 other suggestions.

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Digital Foundations, CC-Licensed Media Design Instruction

Cameron Parkins, December 22nd, 2008

Digital Foundations: Intro to Media Design with the Adobe Creative Suite is a new book that aims to teach the principles of Bauhaus design and its relation to modern software, Adobe’s Creative Suite in particular:

Digital Foundations uses formal exercises of the Bauhaus to teach the Adobe Creative Suite. All students of digital design and production—whether learning in a classroom or on their own—need to understand the basic principles of design in order to implement them using current software. Far too often design is left out of books that teach software for the trade and academic markets. Consequently, the design software training exercise is often a lost opportunity for visual learning. Digital Foundations reinvigorates software training by integrating Bauhaus formal design exercises inspired by the history of art and design into tutorials fusing design fundamentals and core Adobe Creative Suite methodologies. The result is a cohesive learning experience.

The book is being released under a CC BY-NC-SA license and is available for free in wiki format (also available for purchase here). This license choice not only keeps the content open and shareable, but is also a “first for AIGA Design Press, New Riders, and Peachpit, and the result of 9 months of negotiation” (via Boing Boing).

Digital Foundations‘ authors, xtine burrough and Michael Mandiberg, have posted their musings on copyright, the public domain, and Creative Commons on the Digital Founation’s blog through out the book’s creation. Similarly, we would be remiss if we failed to mention that while the book focuses on Adobe’s Creative Suite, the design principles taught therein are equally applicable to open-source design tools such as GIMP and Inkscape.

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Google releases Browser Security Handbook under CC BY

Mike Linksvayer, December 17th, 2008

Last week Google published a 60 page equivalent Browser Security Handbook under the CC Attribution license:

In hopes of helping to make the Web a safer place, we decided to release our Browser Security Handbook to the general public. This 60-page document provides a comprehensive comparison of a broad set of security features and characteristics in commonly used browsers, along with (hopefully) useful commentary and implementation tips for application developers who need to rely on these mechanisms, as well as engineering teams working on future browser-side security enhancements.

Although this may sound dry, the handbook is effectively a highly readable and fascinating explanation of many of the reasons the web and web browsers work as they do. Highly recommended for deep reading by anyone remotely involved in web development, and for skimming by everyone else.

Hopefully publication under the most liberal CC license, allowing republication, modification, and commercial use, so long as credit is given, will help this important content find its way into developer, educational, and training resources around the world.

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Sundman returns

Mike Linksvayer, December 16th, 2008

John Sundman has published his third gonzo SF novel, The Pains, under a CC BY-NC-ND license. As usual when it comes to CC-licensed SF, Cory Doctorow has more on the story over at Boing Boing.

We published an interview with Sundman about his use of CC licenses back in 2006.

You can download, buy, or donate in support of all three of Sundman’s novels on his wetmachine.com site.

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Create Digital Music Winter 2008 Guide

Cameron Parkins, December 15th, 2008


White On Black LCD by William’s Photos | CC BY-NC

Create Digital Music, a fantastic blog on innovations in music technology/performance, recently published their Winter 2008 Guide featuring interviews, reviews, and of course photos of new trends in music production.

The guide is being published as a free PDF download and paperback book and is released under a CC BY-SA license. Not only is the guide approved for free cultural works, but it does an excellent job pooling free-to-use CC-licensed images and providing proper attribution back to these images through out its pages.

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A Byte Of Vim: Free/Open E-Book on the Vim 7 Editor

Cameron Parkins, December 4th, 2008

A Byte Of Vim is a newly released e-book by Swaroop C H that guides users, new and old, through the Vim 7 text editor. Released under a CC BY-SA license, the e-book is not only legally ripe for reuse but also approved for free cultural works.

Of particular note is A Byte of Vim‘s distribution model – primarily released online in wiki format, communal edits are easy and open, taking advantage of the freedoms inherent to BY-SA licensed works. You can download the e-book in PDF format as well.

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