CC Talks With

CC Talks With: Behance

Cameron Parkins, July 8th, 2008

Behance is many things – a creative network, an online magazine, a producer of creative tools, an index of creative professionals, and a purveyor of methodology for getting creative projects done. Perhaps it is better to think of Behance then as an organization that, in their own words, “designs products and services that empower the creative world to make ideas happen.”

The Behance Network is particularly compelling, acting as a means for creative professionals to meet and collaborate successfully in an online space. To better understand what Behance does we recently caught up with founder/CEO Scott Belsky and asked him some questions, in turn illuminating Behance’s overall philosophy, why they chose to include CC-licensing in their creative network, and what Behance can provide for those in the CC-community.

Firstly, can you give our readers some insight into your personal background? You graduated from Harvard Business School, spent some time working on Wall Street, and then made a jump into the creative world. What inspired this move?

I have always been fascinated by how people, teams, and networks are organized. I think that the importance of “organization” and productivity are underrated – especially in the creative community. There is so much emphasis on idea generation and innovation, and so little energy focused on how people get organized to actually make ideas happen.

Back in college, I did an independent study on “redesigning the resume” for creative professionals. During this experience, I realized that most creative potential is never recognized in the corporate world. And in artistic pursuits, creative people often fail to adequately represent their ideas and push them to fruition. After college, I spent about five years on Wall Street but in a rather untraditional job focusing on “leadership development and organizational improvement.” Eventually I left my job and starting searching for a way to apply my love for organization and productivity in the creative community.

In September 2006 I started to assemble a team – around the same time as I started business school. I am truly honored to work with such a talented and committed team – we design and develop all of our work ourselves. The first thing we did was interview hundreds of “uber productive” creative people and teams across industries (many of these interviews can be found at BehanceMag.com). From all the research, we identified some of the MAJOR OBSTACLES to making ideas happen. We recognized a major need for a robust online platform for the creative community to organize itself. We also recognized the need for more productivity on an individual and team level.

For the past few years, our team has been developing products and services that empower the creative world to make ideas happen. Our mission, as a company, is to organize the creative world.
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CC Talks With: deviantArt

Cameron Parkins, June 23rd, 2008

Shockingly, we have yet to post anything on uber-online artist community deviantArt, who not only act as a creative outlet for over 7 million users but do so with CC licensing built into their UI. Our bad. Hopefully we can make up for lost blogging through an interview with Richard Hartley, Director of Community Development at deviantArt (and sometimes clown in disguise). Read on to learn more about the incredibly rich deviantArt community, how CC licences play a roll in user submissions, and future plans that include nothing short of global domination (seriously).

Can you give us some background on deviantArt? When and why did it start up? Who’s involved?

deviantART began on August 7th of 2000, primarily as a site to provide a space to allow deviants to upload various application skins for programs like Sonique, WInamp, WindowBlinds and so on. Soon after it became pretty obvious the community wanted more space to flex their creativity and more categories opened up for digital and traditional art all across the board. At this point we now have over 1700 different categories for every conceivable genre, sub genre and unique niche you could imagine, all at the request of our community. Back when it first began it was a small staff of people, less than ten, and now we currently have over 50 employees world wide as well as around 100 volunteers.
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CC Talks With: Lingro

Cameron Parkins, June 9th, 2008

Lingro is a project that aims to create an online environment that will allow anyone, in reading a foreign language website, a quick and easy means to translate words they don’t understand. Simple in concept, yet profound in implication, Lingro (which we have blogged about twice before) uses open dictionaries and user-submitted, CC BY-SA licensed, definitions to expand its ever-growing database. We recentlly caught up with co-founder Paul Kastner and were able to discuss in-depth the philosophies behind Lingro, how it accomplishes what it does, how it uses CC licenses, and what its future holds.

What is Lingro’s history? How did it get started? Who is involved?

The idea to create a new kind of on-line dictionary which would help people learn languages was conceived by my co-founder, Artur Janc. A few years ago, Artur was practicing his Spanish by reading Harry Potter y la piedra filosofál. He had taken all the advanced Spanish courses at the university where he was studying, and like most students, had a good grasp on the grammar and core vocabulary of the language. When he started reading, he found that while he could understand the structure of the writing, there were so many words he hadn’t come across before that he was spending more time looking up words in a dictionary than actually reading!
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CC Talks With: Modiba Productions

Cameron Parkins, June 3rd, 2008

Modiba Productions is an international music production/publishing company and record label that aims to combine a love for music and a fervor for activism. Focusing primarily on ‘afrocentric’ music, Modiba has been the source for two great CC-based contests over the past year and a half, one with Malian artist Vieux Farka Touré and the other with Brazilian band Nation Beat. We recently caught up with Modiba co-founder Eric Herman and were able to get some background on Modiba, what they aim to accomplish, and how CC-licenses have helped facilitate their goals in combining their passion for music and zeal for social activism.

Can you provide us with a bit of background on what Modiba Productions does? How did it get started? Who is involved?

Modiba Productions is a social activist music production company, record label, and publishing company focusing on international – primarily what we dub “afrocentric” – music. Our mission is to use the best in international music as a vehicle for the empowerment of Africa and its Diaspora. Jesse Brenner and I founded Modiba while we were seniors at Wesleyan University as a means of combining our passions for music and activism. We have grown into a working family that includes an operations manager, a graphic designer, a lawyer, and a staff of interns.
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CC Talks With: blip.tv

Cameron Parkins, April 21st, 2008

blip.tv has long been a CC-friendly staple for video sharing online, providing users a means to upload their content under a CC licence while simultaneously facilitating commercial avenues that would go otherwise unforeseen. We recentlly got up with blip.tv CTO Justin Day and asked him some questions, allowing us to peer more deeply into the unique opportunities blip.tv provides for its users.

(photo via potatono)

Can you give us some background on blip.tv? When and why did it start up? Who’s involved? What is blip.tv’s purpose?

Blip.tv is a video hosting site that’s focused on shows. What that means is that we narrow our attention to independent content creators who make regular episodic shows on the web. We started in direct response to the needs of the emerging videoblogging community in 2005. Our purpose was to give shows an open platform from which they could build their own brand and identity online.

Unlike a lot of online video-sharing sites, blip.tv focuses on episodic content. What led you to this focus?

We focused on episodic content because we’ve always positioned blip.tv to be a pro-sumer tool for independent content creators. Because the community has grown from simple video diaries to web shows of every sort, we’ve grown with them.

blip.tv is distinct in that it has an interesting ad-revenue sharing model with content uploaders as well as distribution deals outside of the web. Can you elaborate on what this entails and share any illuminating anecdotes?

We view monetization and distribution all as part of the same whole, which is to provide the content creators with the best tools to keep making great shows. With advertising we allow shows to opt-in to our network of ad networks right from the first day. Once they build an audience we go to work with direct sponsorship sales. All revenue is split down right down the middle with the creators. Distribution is similar, we want to give a show as much exposure as possible be that on blip.tv, their own website, iTunes, or direct to the living room like with the Sony Bravia. It only helps us both. One of the most interesting lessons learned in my mind was how important building a destination site brand is to driving that exposure, which is one of the reasons why more of our focus has been there in recent months. Originally we thought of ourselves as merely a platform, whereas now we understand that in order to be effective we have to be both platform and destination.

The option to CC license is built into to blip.tv’s UI. Do you find that users utilize CC licensing often? What are the benefits users have in using CC licenses on blip.tv?

From the very beginning we’ve been big proponents of openness and sharing. We’ve never had licensing where we claim to own other peoples content, nor have we ever tried to obscure direct downloads of the original source material. CC plays a critical role in maintaining an open community from which everyone benefits. Nearly a quarter of the videos uploaded to blip.tv are under CC licensing. By allowing for sharing, re-mixing and re-sharing on the content creator’s own terms we provide more opportunity for shows to grow and build community.

CC Founder Larry Lessig has called blip.tv a “true” sharing site as it allows content creators the option to have their videos downloaded, enabling sharing and reuse. Can you talk about any interesting instances of reuse that have arisen from users choosing CC licensing?

I think one of the most interesting CC experiences I’ve seen on blip.tv was early on, when Rudy Jahchan and Casey McKinnon, the brilliant minds behind Galacticast, created an episode titled “Node 666”. Members of the videoblogging community created clips which imagined themselves as survivors of a post apocalyptic earth and uploaded them to blip.tv under CC licensing. Rudy and Casey gathered and edited together the clips into to one of their most memorable episodes to date.

What’s next for blip.tv?

Next for blip.tv is to keep doing what we’ve been doing, which is building great tools for great video makers. We want to keep pushing independent show creators to the forefront until they are able to build sustainable businesses out of their creative talents. Part of that vision is to continue leveraging CC licensing to give content creators access to distribute and re-use great content.

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CC Talks With: Indaba Music

Cameron Parkins, March 4th, 2008

Indaba Music, in their words, is “an international community of musicians, music professionals, and fans exploring the creative possibilities of making music with people in different places”. Enabling exciting forms of online musical creation, Indaba allows musicians to work with each other in ways that are both fresh and exciting, facilitating new and interesting means of collaboration. Unsurprisingly, Indaba is getting serious praise from the press and we thankfully got to chat with co-founders Matthew Siegel and Daniel Zaccagnino about what they are doing at Indaba and how it functions within the context of the CC-community (CC licensing options are built into their UI). Check out their responses below to find out more:

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(Indaba logo (c) Indaba Media, LLC, All Rights Reserved)

What’s Indaba Music all about? What’s its backstory? How did it come about? Who’s involved?

Indaba Music is an international community of musicians, from amateurs to Grammy-award winners, all mingling and making music together online. We came up with the idea for Indaba after starting a non-profit label in college as a means to provide new opportunities for student artists and give them greater exposure. That experience led us to bigger ideas – the two most exciting of which were 1) the way the connectivity of the internet has given artists increased access to fans (and vice versa) and to each other, and 2) the spread of cheap digital production technology (in the form of inexpensive but high quality software and hardware). To us, this meant that there were more people creating music than at any other point in history, and there was an exciting opportunity to connect these music-makers with each other and offer them new possibilities for collaboration and discovery. That’s ultimately what Indaba is – a place where artists meet and create new music.
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CC Talks With: vosotros

Cameron Parkins, February 26th, 2008

vosotros is an LA-based record label that, over the past year, has been exploring unique and new ways of promoting music in the digital age. Ranging from their regularly updated podcast to their monthly residency in downtown Los Angeles, vosotros has acted as somewhat of a musical petri dish, experimenting with a variety of different ideas in getting the music they love to people who want it. We recently caught up with John Gillilan, Vosotros’ co-founder, and asked him a few questions in anticipation of their 1-year anniversary this Thursday:

What’s vosotros all about? What’s its history? How did it come about? Who’s involved?

vosotros is a new music initiative and label founded by Chicago natives John Gillilan and Gabe Noel. Our latest project, The Lazy Susan, will be released this February. We first met in Professora White’s 7th grade Spanish class, which is where we got our name. Vosotros is a Spanish verb conjugation roughly meaning “you-all.” But since it is only used in Spain, it was always ignored. Vosotros is music for you-all.

The Lazy Susan was born in February 2007, when we assembled a band to record one song and launch our year-long residency in downtown Los Angeles. Each month during the next year, we assembled a new band to record another song and play another month of the residency. Twelve months later, vosotros presents: the lazy susan – an album featuring thirty-two musicians on twelve songs written by bassist Gabe Noel.

The Lazy Susan introduces music by “Noelsson Schmoelsson”, “Someone’s Piano”, “First Good Feeling”, “PB&J…and g”, “masunday”, “Saltar”, “My Moon Boots”, “The Carrot and Stick”, “Touhy”, “ump-off Pause Tape”, “How Long It Takes To Know”, and “Our Song”.

February 28 marks the one-year anniversary of our residency at LAND (details here) – and the release of our third album as a label. You can listen to the lazy susan at last.fm and iMeem. Also, be sure to check out this promo video crafted by our friend Dave McCary using only public domain footage.
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CC Talks With: James Patrick Kelly

Cameron Parkins, January 28th, 2008

Over the holidays, we caught up with acclaimed writer (and podcaster) James Patrick Kelly and asked him some questions regarding the interesting and unique ways he has embraced CC licenses for his work. Read on to find out what positives Kelly has seen in using CC as well as which CC evangelist (hint: he also is known for writing science fiction) tipped him off to the whole concept in the first place.

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What is your background? Can you catch up our readers on the various projects you are involved in, from your writing to your podcast?

I am primarily known as a science fiction writer but I write in many genres, including mainstream or literary fiction, slipstream, fantasy and mystery. I’ve written five novels, about eighty short stories as well as poems, plays, essays and even a planetarium show. I’ve had some gratifying recognition for my work: two Hugos, a Nebula and a Locus Award. I’ve been churning out a column about science fiction and the internet at Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine for more than ten years now. Back in 2004 I had a chance to be there pretty near the birth of podcasting. I was being interviewed by Dave Slusher and he tried to explain what it was and why it was so cool. But I was too dense to wrap my mind around podcasting just then, so it wasn’t until the fall of 2005 that I started Free Reads, which is my CC podcast. That led to James Patrick Kelly’s StoryPod on Audible.com, which is a for-pay podcast. But enough about me — if for some reason you lust for more Jim Kelly propaganda, check out my website jimkelly.net.
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CC Talks With: Monk Turner

Cameron Parkins, January 18th, 2008

In our most recent “Featured Commoner” piece, we catch up with musician Monk Turner, who experiments not only with a variety of musical styles but also distribution techniques, having released a slew of concept albums through the internet archive (all CC licensed). His most recent album, Monk Turner’s Calendar, came out this past week and we were able to catch up with Monk and delve deeper into his unique sensibilities as a musician in the 21st century.

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CC Talks With: BloodSpell

Cameron Parkins, January 7th, 2008

Although we took a little break in our “Featured Commoner” series over the holidays, we are back in action with many more stories and interviews for the new year. First up in 2008 is Hugh Hancock, Artistic Director ad Co-Founder of Strange Company, the “world’s oldest pro ‘Machinima‘ production company” and producers of acclaimed full-length machinima BloodSpell. We’ve talked about the film before, but further enlightenment was due.

What’s BloodSpell/Strange Company all about? What’s its history? How did it come about? Who’s involved?

Strange Company is the world’s oldest professional Machinima (real-time 3D filmmaking using computer game engines or similar tools – basically puppetry on a computer) production company – we’ve been around since 1997, when I quit pursuing a computer science degree to go play with this new “Quake Movies” thing. It turned out to be a better idea than it looked – we’ve been making films for 10 years now and havve been praised by Pulitzer winner Roger Ebert, worked for some of the most respected companies in the world (like the BBC and BAFTA), and have’ve produced some fantastic films.

BloodSpell is a feature-length Machinima film, one of the few that have ever been made. It’s what we’re calling a “punk fantasy” – an epic fantasy film about a world where people are infected with magic in their blood, but without all of the pompousness, “Olde Worlde” feel and posh English accents that most fantasy films feel they have to have.

BloodSpell happened because we’d been spending a while trying to develop a really huge film project, and we’d kinda lost sight of what makes Machinima great – the fact that it’s fast and cheap enough to make a Machinima film that you can just do it. A collaborator of mine pointed out, in his inimitable way, that we had “lost the punk edge”. So we promptly turned around and decided to put together a fast, cheap film.

Of course, then mission creep set in. But four years later, we’re very proud of the result, and the response we’ve had – praise from major newspapers (The Guardian and USA Today), top interweb/storytelling types (like Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow), and great reviews all across the world.

How are you using CC licenses with BloodSpell? Which CC licenses are you using and why?

BloodSpell is released under a CC BY-NC-SA license. Essentially, we chose CC for brutally commercial reasons – we weren’t going to make money with BloodSpell (it’s basically the world’s largest market research project), we knew that basically every first feature film doesn’t make its creator money, no matter how it’s licensed, and we wanted to make sure that as many people as possible got to see it. From that standpoint, CC was a no-brainer. Likewise, there was no reason to limit the uses people make of our work – I’d love to see BloodSpell fan-fiction, for all that I probably can’t read it myself for legal reasons.

Can you talk about any interesting instances of reuse that have arisen from your choice of CC licensing? What benefits have you seen from using CC licenses?

Actually, we’ve not seen a lot of reuse and remixing, although a couple of people have done some very cool fan-art and remixed trailers. The major benefit we’ve seen is simply that people know they’re free to watch and give away BloodSpell, and that’s made us very popular – to the extent that we’re currently the second most watched Scottish feature film this year, on a budget that’s more than 100 times lower than the next most watched film!

What’s next for BloodSpell/Strange Company?

We’ll be releasing a BloodSpell DVD pretty soon – also under CC – and we’re going to be working on developing tools and technology for our next productions.

The other thing I’m likely to be doing is helming a CC cookery show called “Kamikaze Cookery”, teaching people to cook using modern, molecular gastronomy techniques, but that’s a different story…

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