CC Talks With

CC Talks With: MCM

Cameron Parkins, May 15th, 2009

As CC continues to grow and expand, one of the best ways we’ve found to communicate our mission and what our licenses can provide to new members of our community is by letting the rest of the community do the talking. We highlight stories on our blog and twitter, work with groups to flesh out pages in our case studies project, and regularly do interviews with specific community members whose work is illuminating of what CC does and what we are constantly trying to accomplish. In the past we called these interviews Featured Commoner pieces, but in an effort to increase clarity these will now be called CC Talks With.

To re-boot our efforts we have a reached out to a number of individuals working on great projects and have a number interviews waiting in the wings for the coming weeks. Our first is with MCM, an author, TV producer, and creative mind who recently began work on his new project, TorrentBoy, a CC-licensed experiment in fan fiction. MCM has been utilizing CC licenses almost as long as we’ve been around, so it is fitting to re-launch this series with someone whose perspective has evolved as much as we have in our short history. Read on to learn more about MCM’s work and his thoughts on how CC licenses can be used to help promote sharing and unintended reuse.

Can you give our readers a bit of background on yourself and the TorrentBoy project? What is your own personal history leading you to this point in your career? How did TorrentBoy begin and what is it’s current status? More importantly, what is the book about?

mcm_photoMy history is a long and complicated subject that can make grown men cry, so I’ll skip it and get right to the fun part. In 2001, I created a web-based animated show called Dustrunners, which, when it died, became the first Creative Commons-licensed series (it used CC SA before the licenses had reached 1.0). I’d always had a passion for the open sharing of ideas and culture, and when I heard the goals that Creative Commons had set out, I was hooked. Since Dustrunners, I have made sure that every single product I’ve made (and own the rights to) has been CC-licensed, and I irritate random people on the street with my evangelism. Investment bankers are generally hostile to the idea, but everyone else at least smiles at me.

Since then, I’ve written a bunch of other “free culture” books, most (in)famously The Pig and the Box, which teaches kids about the evils of Digital Rights Management. The fact that the book was translated into 15 languages and downloaded and shared well over 1.5 million times (that I could count) really cemented in my mind the fact that Creative Commons enables creators to do fantastic things.

Four years ago, I created this idea for a show called RollBots, which now airs on YTV in Canada and will be launching on the CW4Kids in the US, with toys by Mattel. Not to sound ungrateful, but there’s just something about the “closed” nature of major TV productions that irked me. The show is great, and the people that work on it are excellent, but it always felt like there was some potential that had been left untapped. Something we couldn’t see from inside out little castle that would have made it better.

TorrentBoy is my answer to that nagging doubt. It’s an entirely “open source” franchise, where anybody can come in and build upon the first book I wrote and make it their own. There are no boundaries to it, no limits to what can be done… TorrentBoy can go on adventures I could never dream of, in languages I will never speak, and take on an entirely new life that traditional media like RollBots can never achieve (at least not until I’ve been dead for a few decades). It’s parallel, but different. Probably the best thing I’ve ever done.

The first book in the series, Zombie World! is cheekily about a kid named Wesley who has a talking watch that turns him into the super-powered TorrentBoy, so he can fight enemies like proton leeches and an army of zombies, and save the world. He’s got a teddy bear named Crash, and Crash has a “waser bwaster”, and the two of them get into all kinds of trouble as they battle the evil Lord Thorax. There are certainly a lot of bittorrent analogies to it, but at its heart, it’s just a good, fun adventure book for kids. In its first month of publication, it sold 463 copies (physical and eBooks), and was downloaded another 120,000 times. A good start, but that’s just the start.

TorrentBoy is released under CC BY-NC-SA license and is designed to be shared, remixed, and expanded upon. Why did you choose to go this route? What obstacles and benefits have you encountered by using a CC license?

The logistics of the license were a big concern for me. I wanted to ensure that people could feel free to do what they wanted to do, but I was also concerned that as a franchise, the collective work could suffer if sub-standard works could be sold alongside the really great stuff. So while everyone is free to participate, only select participants can actually “cash in” on their work. It’s an imperfect system, but it’s as close as I think we can get.

The biggest obstacle with the CC license thus far is, interestingly, my unintended role as the “benevolent dictator” (not my term). Despite the fact that, really, anyone can do anything they like, I am still asked for insights into various issues on a regular basis. There’s one really nice guy who sends me daily emails for feedback on ideas he has about a book he’s writing. I love answering his questions, but in my mind it’s more like brainstorming than informing… but I know the freedom of CC licenses is sometimes hard for people to understand. I still get emails from people asking of they can print a copy of “The Pig and the Box” for their friend, no matter how hard I work to explain the significance of the license.

On the other hand, the benefits are evident already. Just the fact that there IS someone writing a book about TorrentBoy is amazing. Another amazingly supportive contributor has made a bunch of t-shirts and designs for the project, and others are working on a comic book. With RollBots, I had a select few people taking my ideas and making them live… but with CC, I’ve got the same effect on a massive scale, with ideas you just can’t get without the genius of the commons.

You state that it is a conscious experiment in Fan Fiction – how does the CC license enable that?

Fanfic is a tricky thing, isn’t it? You have an established concept that people love so much they want to expand upon it… but even if they do the most amazing things, it’s still second-class to the world. There are some really great fanfic writers out there; artists as well. What TorrentBoy hopes to demonstrate is that legitimizing those fans is an excellent way to grow your universe and make it richer. You can either do that by blessing “unauthorized” derivative works, or you can give blanket permission to the world to do as they please, and see what happens. I hate the idea of people creating things they love under the shadow of illegality.

What kind of derivative works have begun appearing? As a creator, how do you feel about these derivative works? How are you aggregating them and keeping track of what is created?

There’s at least one book being written that I know of, as well as a comic (or two, I’m not sure). There are some posters in the works, and I have heard there’s a video game of some kind too. Someone is apparently planning a kind of Alternate Reality Game, and I myself am working on both a standard novel and a collaborative one, where we map out the structure and tag-team our way through a first draft. I keep track of the derivative works as much as I can, but I know that, to a certain extent, people will be creating in isolation for the first while, so I probably don’t know about half of the stuff that’s going on.

One of the great ideas I saw floated a few weeks ago was to branch the main TorrentBoy story off into a steampunk variant, set in the late 1800s, with one of TorrentBoy‘s predecessors and his battles to save the world. I don’t know if anyone is running with that idea, but I think it’s an amazing concept, and I’d love to see it happen.

I think creating a show for TV somewhat prepared me for this role, in a lot of ways. When you make something on that scale, you have to give up fine control of how things unfold… great ideas come from unexpected places, and you need to be confident enough in the idea to let it go where it wants. TorrentBoy is the same way, but on a larger scale. It’s not hard for me to fall in love with crazy new ideas spawned from my initial effort… the hard part is waiting to see how they all unfold!

Lastly, how can our readers participate in the TorrentBoy project? Any last words you’d like them to know?

torrentboy_im_2There are lots of ways to participate, and the possibilities are evolving constantly. There’s an effort to document the world of TorrentBoy via our wiki, where you can go and theorize about everything from the finer functions of the Tracker Watch to the motives behind the Rhino-rilla villains. That’s one of my favourite aspects, because anyone can try it out, whether or not they feel they can write long-form prose.

Also on the site are discussion forums where you can suggest ideas or actually deliver new creations based on TorrentBoy… t-shirt designs or doodles or ideas for stories (that maybe you can’t write, but would like to see written). The atmosphere is really friendly and collaborative, which is great for everyone involved.

And finally, there’s a lot to be said for expanding the pool of contributors to the project, which is easily done by pointing people to the first book, Zombie World!, available here. It’s free (or you can pay for it, your choice), and it gives a crash course in the TorrentBoy world. If you know any kids in the 7-11 range that might like a good action novel, it’s a great place to start the adventure.

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CC Talks With: CK-12 Foundation’s Neeru Khosla on Open Textbooks

Jane Park, April 28th, 2009

flexbook-screenshotBack in March, we were so excited about the new Physics Flexbook aligned to Virginia’s state standards that we had to catch up with the foundation that helped to make it possible. The obvious choice was Neeru Khosla, co-founder of the CK-12 Foundation, “a non-profit organization with a mission to reduce the cost of textbook materials for the K-12 market both in the U.S. and worldwide.” The Flexbook is their web-based platform for open textbooks (openly licensed via CC BY-SA) which maximizes and enhances collaboration across district, county, and state lines. In fact, their use is not even limited by country, since CC licenses are global and non-exclusive. Anyone can collaborate, improve, and iterate without having to ask. “The good thing about that is we don’t have to tell people what they can do or cannot do. The power of the system is that it is useable under any condition. All you have to do is use it.”
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CC Talks With: David Bollier

Mike Linksvayer, March 5th, 2009

As promised in last week’s post on The Commons Video, here’s an interview with David Bollier, author of Viral Spiral: How the Commoners Built a Digital Republic of Their Own, which we said in January “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.”

Read on for an explanation of how Bollier became interested in digital commons movement, how he sees the its long term impact shaping up, and much in between.

You’ve been involved in efforts to understand and evangelize the broad concept of “the commons” for a long time, including as an editor of onthecommons.org. What first got you interested in the commons, and when was that?

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I worked for Ralph Nader and a number of Washington public-interest advocacy groups. Far from being the reviled figure that he became following the 2000 election, Nader was revered among progressives for his sophistication in politicizing and developing dozens of issues. These were generally taboo or “boring” topics that were utterly off the national agenda – topics that had not even crystallized as “issues,” such as auto safety, clean air and clean water, open government and congressional reform, not to mention countless niche issues like mobile home safety, nutritional labeling and whistleblower protection. (For more, see the DVD, “An Unreasonable Man.”)

I attended a 1980 conference that Nader convened that affected me a great deal. It was entitled, “Controlling What We Own,” and it dealt with the many resources that the American people nominally or even legally own, but which we do not control or reap benefits from. Nader groups were involved in most of these issues.

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CC Talks With: University of Michigan Library

Cameron Parkins, February 19th, 2009

Over the past year, the University of Michigan Library has shown itself to be particularly sensible in regards to open content licensing, the public domain, and issues of copyright in the digital age. The U-M Library has integrated public domain book machines, adopted CC licensing for their content, and independently had their Copyright Specialist, Molly Kleinman, articulate the importance of proper attribution in using CC licenses. We recently caught up with Molly to learn more about these efforts – primarily how they came to be and the results they have yielded – as well as discuss CC’s place in educational institutions at large and how CC and Fair Use interact in the academic sphere.

1library
Book, Suzanne Chapman | CC BY-NC-SA

What is your role at the University of Michigan Library? How does the University Library interact with the rest of the University?

I’m the University Library’s copyright specialist. I provide copyright and publishing assistance for faculty, students, researchers, staff, and librarians throughout the University of Michigan, and occasionally to the community at large. I handle questions on both sides of the copyright universe: people come to me as users of copyrighted works and also as creators with concerns about their own rights. At a university just about everybody is both a user and a creator, so I think it’s important to promote a balanced perspective on copyright. A big part of my job is teaching workshops and providing one-on-one consultations about copyright and scholarly publishing basics. I work with librarians all over campus to raise awareness about topics like fair use, Open Access, and author rights. I also support a number of the Library’s activities, including our institutional repository Deep Blue, the Scholarly Publishing Office, and Special Collections exhibits. People always ask if I’m an attorney… I’m not. I’m a librarian by training, and have a background in publishing. A law degree is useful when dealing with copyright, and it’s certainly necessary when you’re providing legal advice, but in many other situations it’s not essential. Copyright is messy and confusing and it makes a lot of people nervous and scared. Approaching these issues as a librarian allows me to explain things in “human readable” language instead of legalese. My goal is to demystify the law and empower students and faculty to advocate for their rights as both users and creators.
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CC Talks With: The Global Lives Project

Cameron Parkins, January 23rd, 2009

The Global Lives Project is a project that aims to “record 24 hours in the lives of ten people that roughly represent the diversity our planet’s population.” Accomplishing this via a volunteer-network dispersed through out the globe, GLP aggregates video for these subjects based on a unique spreadsheet approach to understand global demographics. All of the work produced by GLP is released under a CC BY-NC-SA license, a decision explained in the following interview with Global Lives founder David Evan Harris. Read on to learn more about the project, how CC licenses are being used, and how to get involved yourself as a volunteer/contributor.

globalvoices

Give us a bit of background on the Global Lives project. How did you begin? What is your mission?

Global Lives’ mission is to reshape how people around the world perceive cultures, nations and people outside their communities by collaboratively building a video library of human life experience. The content of our video library “lives” online and is regularly presented to the public in unique open-source video installations and screenings. Our shoots so far have taken place in Malawi, Brazil, Japan, China, Indonesia and the US, and we’ve shown our work publicly in most of those countries and a few others.

The Global Lives Project all got started in 2002, during my third year in college, when I was lucky enough to spend eight months living and studying international development in Tanzania, India, the Philippines and the UK as part of the International Honors Program. For the majority of these eight months, I lived with host families. I stayed in a bamboo house in the Philippines, a squatter settlement in Mexico City, and a rural village in northern India, among other places. While I learned a ton during the year about the politics, economics, history and ecology of these countries, the part of the experience that stuck with me the most was sharing the experience of daily life with the families and individuals from these countries.

Today, I can’t read a newspaper article about rice without thinking of my host mother Violeta in Barangay Daja and her rice paddy and water buffalo. The experience forever changed the way I understand people from other cultures and nations and my own role in the world. And I wanted to bring that experience to people who didn’t have the same opportunities to travel abroad as I did. So I came up with the idea of Global Lives. What I didn’t expect was that so many other people would find the idea to be so interesting, and that it would resonate so well with people from all over the planet.
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CC Talks With: Deproduction

Cameron Parkins, January 12th, 2009

Deproduction is a Denver-based video production company that has a variety of media incarnations, from Public Access TV aggregate Denver Open Media to civic pixel, an open-source web development group. All the material produced for DOM is released under a CC BY-NC-SA license, making it freely sharable and remixable as long as the creators are properly attributed, reproductions are noncommercial in intent, and any derivative works are shared under the same license. The project has been so successful that the team behind it recently received a Knight NewsChallenge Grant to reproduce their system at Public Access TV stations around the U.S. We caught up with Tony Shawcross, Executive Director at Deproduction, to learn more about their operation, how they are using CC licenses at DOM, and why Public Access TV is important.

stdlogo

Can you give our readers some background on Deproduction? How did you get started, who is involved, and what do you do?

The early history is summarized in a great Apogee Magazine Article from 2004, back when we were still a 2-person organization. In the 5 years since, the organization grew from collaborations with a handful of local nonprofits, including Free Speech TV, Little Voice Productions, Just Media, and the Pan African Arts Society. We had been producing videos for nonprofit partners, and began expanding our media education programs through work with local schools and an office in the PS1 Charter School. In 2005, Denver’s City Council shut down the City’s Public Access TV Station and issued an RFP from organizations who had a plan for making Public Access TV work with no operating support from the city or Comcast.

We responded, borrowing from the models of Wikipedia, Current TV, and others to develop online systems that could enable our community members to manage the station. Where most Public Access TV stations have staff devoted to content ingest, metadata entry, quality-control, equipment reservations, class registrations, broadcast scheduling and so-on, our tools enable the community to complete all those tasks with minimal staff involvement. Furthermore, our approach to studio productions, editing and even training work to reduce the workload on our staff and maximize the cooperation and support of our members.
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CC Talks With: Collaborative Statistics — An Open Textbook Model

Jane Park, December 3rd, 2008

CC BY (Barbara Illowsky and Susan Dean)

CC BY (Barbara Illowsky and Susan Dean)

One of the most exciting sub-movements within open education is the current revolution regarding the evolution of textbooks. Old-fashioned publishers would often (and still do) rack up prices to hundreds of dollars per textbook, but this business model is rapidly changing to favor vastly cheaper educational resources based on more open licensing policies. One driver is that the information in textbooks becomes outdated the minute it comes out in print, to the point that what is being taught in schools is often inaccurate. Open textbooks better represent the dynamic nature of information because they are themselves dynamic. They can be manufactured collaboratively over the internet, are digital and thereby easily editable, and are openly licensed so that anyone can update the information in the future. The premise is that you should never have to throw out old content — only improve upon it. 

At the COSL Open Education Conference this year, Susan Dean, along with others, presented on Sustainability Models for Community College Open Textbooks. Her presentation was based on her own path towards open textbook publishing. She and Dr. Barbara Illowsky developed, over a number of years, the textbook Collaborative Statistics. Today, it is freely available for access and derivation via CC BY on the Connexions platform, but for Susan and Barbara, obtaining the rights to the book and cementing a publisher and platform were far from easy. 

Below are Susan’s and Barbara’s take on the path they chose. I was lucky enough to catch up to them via email and ask a few questions — about themselves, Collaborative Statistics, and open textbooks in general.

Can you say a few words about yourselves and your background in education?  What drew you to academia in the first place?  As an academic, how have your conceptions of education evolved?

Susan
I earned a secondary teaching credential to teach high school math and art and taught high school for the next four years.  I went back to school in computer science and worked for Honeywell and Hewlett-Packard and then was hired by De Anza College to teach math at the same time as I was working on a master’s degree in applied math at Santa Clara University.

I grew up poor but always did well in school and received a lot of attention from teachers, several of whom were outstanding.  I have always found math along with marine biology highly interesting and would tutor other students in both subjects in high school and found it fun.  I also tutored students, including blind and deaf students, in college. These factors combined to make me want to teach.

I have become a “hands-on” teacher in math.  Students, especially developmental students, learn best by “doing” and by working in groups.  I believe in having students use technology to help them learn.

 

Barbara
I tutored in college and really enjoyed it. I did not plan on becoming an instructor, though. In graduate school, I had a teaching scholarship and found that I loved teaching. I loved helping students; I loved when they were successful, especially after a hard struggle to learn.

About 15 years ago, I became interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning. I researched pedagogy and andragogy (the theory of adult learning).  Since completing my PhD, I have continued to study the learning process.

I now understand education to be much more of a life time process, than I had previously thought, as well as effective instruction to be much more constructivist than how most educators teach.

In your opinion, what are the important ways in which community and four year colleges differ — in terms of degrees granted, student populations, educational needs and challenges…?

Community colleges are for students who want a particular certificate (usually for a job), who want an AA or AS, who want to transfer to a four year school or who are interested in particular subjects.  Four year colleges, for the most part, are for students who want a four year degree.  Four year colleges typically have “academic” majors.   Many students would not go to college if there were no community colleges. Among a myriad of services, community colleges provide developmental help in English and math if students need it (and about 80% who come to the community colleges do), provide transfer programs, offer counseling that not only gives students advisory help for classes and programs but provides personal guidance as well, offer excellent financial advice for those students who need financial help and are cheaper than four year colleges.

Community colleges enroll almost half of all undergraduate students in the U.S.  As a result, a good many community colleges are extremely diverse in student populations (De Anza College is a very good example) and the preparedness of the students is wider than at a UC or CSU or private college or university.

How do you envision Collaborative Statistics being used in the classroom?

Collaborative Statistics has been used in the classroom for about 15 years.  The book is intended to complement an elementary course in statistics that is collaborative and practical.  Students work in groups to apply what they have learned to complete data driven labs and projects. The book was written to accommodate this mode of classroom activity.  It was also written with English as a second language (ESL) students in mind and has been used successfully over the years with many ESL students.

From what I understood from your presentation (Susan) at  COSL OpenEd ’08, writing Collaborative Statistics was far from the hardest part. The book was originally published with a commercial publisher under all rights reserved copyright.  What triggered the need to open up these rights?

We acquired the rights back from the publisher so that we could lower the cost of the book.  We had found that too many of our students struggled to pay for their books especially as the price of books went up (the cost increase has been dramatic over the years).  So, when we had the chance to open up the rights to the book and make it free online, we were ready to do it.

Can you tell us a bit about the process you had to go through to convert to an open license? What were the steps you took? What were the roughest bumps in the road?

Martha Kanter, Chancellor of the Foofthill-De Anza Community College District, is very interested in open educational resources.  She is acquainted with Bob Maxfield of the non-profit Maxfield Foundation (associated with Rice University).  She recommended our book to Bob Maxfield who in turn made the book available to the Connexions Project of Rice University.   Since we had control of the book (we published it), it was our decision to acquire an open license.  The roughest bumps involved the amount of time it took to find the right organization for our book.

If you could give a piece of advice to other textbook authors and/or teachers who wish to publish their work openly, what would it be?

Do it!  Think of the many students and faculty who could benefit from your work.

Why did you choose CC BY, as opposed to one of the more restrictive licenses?

We chose the license that Connexions requested for the least restrictions.  Plus, the least restrictive license allows for the most freedom of improvement of a product.

What would you say to someone who was worried about commercial uses of their work?

Choose an organization like Connexions to publish on the Web.   Connexions allows and encourages users to collaboratively develop, freely share and quickly publish content on the Web.  Anyone who uses any part of someone else’s content can modify the content but must give attribution to the authors of the content.

Open textbooks are certainly taking off in a big way these days, what with Connexions, Flatworld Knowledge, CK12 Foundation’s Flexbooks, and the recent bill signed into law enabling California Community Colleges to establish OER pilot programs. What do you think specifically about this bill — AB 2261?  Will you be involved with the execution of this bill, considering your ties with De Anza Community College?  If not, how do you see the program working?

We are highly in favor of AB 2261.  We are not involved with the execution of the bill.  Article 2 of AB 2261 lays out a plan for the program including a possible lead community college to coordinate the planning and development of the pilot program.  Especially important is Article 2 part (c) (3) which deals with developing “a community college professional development course that introduces faculty, staff, and college course developers to the concept, creation, content, and production methodologies that enable OER to be offered to students in community college classes.”

Lastly, what is the future of open textbooks? What would you say we have to change in order for open education to be maximally effective?

Open textbooks are here to stay!  Connexions has much improved our book with what they have done on the cnx.org site.  They have broken down the content into modules that can be linked together and arranged in different ways.  We are sure that the other organizations that are involved in open educational resources have done something similar.  There has to be some kind of massive ad campaign (similar to what California did with the big propositions in the recent November 2008 election but keep it honest) that shows the great benefits of open educational resources.  The ad must target everyone but especially faculty to show them the great educational possibilities that exist, the fact that the resources are easy to use and the fact that the resources are free.

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CC Talks With: Lucky Dragons

Cameron Parkins, November 10th, 2008

Lucky Dragons, an experimental music/art group based in Los Angeles, is the moniker given to “any recorded or performed or installed or packaged or shared pieces made by Luke Fischbeck, Sarah Rara, and any sometimes collaborator.” Blending an organic approach to electronic music with a background in the arts, everything Lucky Dragons produces is released under a CC BY-NC-SA license, allowing others to share what they have made as well as rework it (much of their music is available for free download on their website). We recently caught up with the duo to learn more about their music and motivation to use CC. We also touched upon their experience participating in the Into Infinity project, their associated projects Sumi Ink Club/Glaciers of Nice, and what their plans are for the future.

Can you give our readers a bit of background on yourselves? How did you get involved with music and art? What is Lucky Dragon’s background as an artistic outfit?

Fischbeck: lucky dragons started as a “band” in the loosest form possible around eight years ago, as a way to structure our activities as a group in an easily understandable and distributable way, making recordings or books or videos or performances and putting them out into the world. for the most part, we have definitely used the existing structure of independently produced music to do this, but as this structure has been changing so much in our lifetime, we have been keen to look for new and positive paths and models, trying to contribute to a new definition of “band” that includes contexts such as public art, the gallery system, museum programming, blogs, and small-press publishing.

Rara: My entry into making music was initially through making videos and composing sound to go with a moving image until I became more and more engrossed in the production of sounds and the potential of music to bring people together in a very concrete way, forming transient communities and generating equal power-sharing situations. It’s interesting now to alternate between music and art contexts, to slip in and out of each world and to borrow from each various modes and identities. I enjoy slipping into a “band” identity that confuses authorship and opens up the project to various collaborators, even going so far as to dissolve the separation between myself and the audience during the performance. I’ve always thought of the role of the artist as more diffused and inclusive, it can include sitting on a stage and playing a modified kalimba for half an hour or it can include an everyday situation like having a conversation with a stranger. But somehow the means of distributing art in the world are not as inclusive and wide-ranging as music distribution. Music has a tradition of self-publishing and cheap distribution that I find very inspiring; it’s easy to produce something that is accessible to everyone and easily shared when operating within the form of a musical group.

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CC Talks With: SomeRightsReserved

Cameron Parkins, October 29th, 2008

SomeRightsReserved is the digital publishing platform for creative cooperative KithKin, a group of designers and creatives who are attempting to take a “genuine passion for inspiring people and celebrating creativity” and turn it into something tangible. Discussed earlier here, SRR are not only producing some fantastic products but are similarly experimenting with licensing in ways that challenge traditional design practices. We recently caught up with Ian Atkins, founder of KithKin/SRR, to get a better sense of how SomeRightsReserved functions as an organization, how they use CC licensing, and their plans for the future.

Can you give our readers some background on what SomeRightsReserved does? What makes you different from other design firms?

SomeRightsReserved is our digital publishing platform. It features a wide variety of ‘products’ ranging from laser cut ready design, to books and music. The group of designers behind the shop, KithKin, are primarily from a design background, but the shop is not limited by genre or discipline.

The initial thoughts that led to the development of SomeRightsReserved arouse from a desire from several of the designers to make and sell their designs and creations. In design this traditionally means a protracted period of time of development, testing, protecting your idea, and then getting made, then trying to sell it. Oh and finding the money to do so.

Now we can conceive an idea, refine it in a day and publish it the next. We publish almost anything in a digital format, whether it be rapid prototype files, which can be used to produce physical objects, to subversive pieces of viral software.

We let designers and creatives publish their products on their terms, exhibiting and touring their work offline and online.
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CC Talks With: MusicBrainz

Cameron Parkins, October 28th, 2008

We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Robert Kaye, “lead geek” at MusicBrainz, a community music database that “attempts to create a comprehensive music information site.” Kaye fills us in on what is happening at MusicBrainz, including extensive background on the project, how they use CC licenses, and their goal to add broader support for classical music.

Where does MusicBrainz fit in the open content ecology?

MusicBrainz plays an important role in blazing the path for open databases. We know how to play with open source and music, and we have few examples of how to work
with open structured data. We work hard to make our data useful and available to people, as we believe that Metcalfe’s law also applies to data. Thus, getting lots of people to use our data makes MusicBrainz vastly more useful and valuable. With that in mind, we want to be the de-facto standard for music metadata in the open content ecology.
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