catalyst campaign

2010 Catalyst Grant Recipients Announced!

Joi Ito, September 9th, 2010

It’s with great pleasure that we announce the recipients of the first CC Catalyst Grants Program. Out of a grant pool consisting of more than 130 applications, seven projects have been selected for awards up to $10,000 each, to catalyze projects that contribute to the commons.

Thanks to your generous support during the Catalyst Grants campaign, we raised almost $50,000, 100% of which will directly fuel the grant awards.

The applicant pool offered an impressive array of project ideas from around the world. We couldn’t be happier with the turnout and fantastic proposals from a variety of fields. Although we unable to fund more proposals this time around, we hope to run the program again next year and leverage our experience to raise a larger pool of funds so we can do still more. We also learned a lot about what makes a strong proposal and will share these guidelines with the community.

We encourage you to take a look at the remaining grant pool, and if a project catches your eye, you can leave the team a note on the wiki discussion page. Many projects are seeking specific expertise or support and would welcome the opportunity to work with others to make their idea a reality.

An enormous thank-you goes to the Catalyst Grants Review Committee, comprised of regional representatives nominated by CC Project Leads. Thank you, Hiram Meléndez Juarbe (Puerto Rico), Bassel Safadi (Syria), Paul Keller (Netherlands), Paul Kiwehlo (Tanzania), Jane Hornibrook (New Zealand), as well as Chiaki Hayashi (Asia Projects Coordinator) and the CC staff members for your thoughtful review. This process benefitted from your generous input.

Thank you as well to all the applicants for your efforts and great ideas, and thank you to those who supported the fundraising campaign that made this all possible.

With no further ado, here are the recipients of this year’s CC Catalyst Grants Program funds:

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Last day for Catalyst grant proposals and donations

Mike Linksvayer, June 30th, 2010

In the closing days our Catalyst Campaign we’ve received many outstanding proposals and expect to receive more in the closing hours.

Today is the last day all donations received will go toward funding proposed projects. Grants proposed for funding under this program are being posted and tracked in a completely transparent process – you’ll be able to see the direct impact your support makes almost immediately. We’ve posted the scorecard our global reviewers will use to rank the most impactful proposals.

Please donate now!

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Peer 2 Peer University’s Philipp Schmidt on paying for (CC) infrastructure

Mike Linksvayer, June 7th, 2010

Peer 2 Peer University co-founder and director Philipp Schmidt (see our posts on P2PU, a cutting-edge open education project) has written an excellent post on his Sharing Nicely blog about supporting our Catalyst Campaign:

Today Creative Commons launches their catalyst campaign – brother to the recently announced catalyst grant programme. I like how they connect the two – funding their work AND raising money at the same time. On one hand, they offer small grants for projects that further their vision, and with the other hand they politely ask for donations to support it. It creates a connection between the donation and the purpose of that donation, even if it’s a very loose connection.

Well put — though in this campaign, the connection is very tight, 1:1 — the funds we raise go directly to the small grants.

However, the reason for highlighting Philipp’s post here is that he raises several important points that anyone who cares deeply about Creative Commons may be interested in. The first is simply that CC is crucial infrastructure that must be supported:

CC’s work is a very important foundation of a lot of the open content / commons movement – and I don’t think it’s easy to raise the funds necessary to support it. Hal Plotkin asked this question after his keynote at the recent OCWC Global conference. How should and can something that provides an important, but not very glamorous (my words, not Hal’s, with apologies to my lawyer friends at CC) enabling service be supported financially? Funding for infrastructure is difficult to raise. It’s a little bit like raising money for TCP/IP or HTTP. Everyone will agree that it’s important and we all benefit from having it – but we all hope that someone else will pick up the tab. We rely on that friend of a friend who got rich on stock options, sold his company, or house – or simply inherited a lot of money.

Having grown up in a social democracy that offers high-quality infrastructure and services to (almost) all of its citizens, my immediate response is that infrastructure should be paid for by the state from tax income. I personally would welcome a small part of my tax payments to be used to support important infrastructure projects that enable free flow of knowledge and information. Even more so, now that I live in a country where access to knowledge is scarce and expensive. I believe such would be an excellent investment in future development and well-being of all citizens.

The problem with writing blog posts about topics like this is – you end up getting stuck in a dilemma. I have now explained that I think CC’s work is important, that I suspect many people fail to support it, and that the government should consider doing so. However, pending major adjustments in the political landscape of South Africa, that doesn’t really help anyone. So I went ahead and donated a little money to CC today.

Please join Philipp. But it’s ok to consider infrastructure glamorous, because it is. You’re with a cool crowd. That realizes the Internet breaking is extremely anti-glamor.

Ponte estaiada Octavio Frias - Sao Paulo
Gratuitous infrastructure glamor shot: Ponte estaiada Octavio Frias – Sao Paulo by Marcosleal / CC BY-SA

Philipp continues:

The benefit of donating is the perceived authority to ramble on a little bit longer, and say a few things about what CC are doing what I think could be improved. In order to do that I think its worth looking at the licences as a service (or even a product) that has to be sold to a particular audience and designing it in order to provide maximum value to that audience. What I mean by that is that there is a tendency for organizations to turn inwards – and in the case of CC that means pay more and more attention to the opinions of legal experts – rather than listen to the customers who don’t understand the legal details, and in most cases don’t give a rat’s hat. Here is what I’d like to see:

I would like to see fewer licences and fewer versions – but more certainty that the licence will hold up in court. I believe simplicity beats choice and legal finesse.

It’s absolutely worth looking at Creative Commons licenses as products that serve customers, and without doubt any organization that turns inwards, ignoring what its customers desire from its products is doomed. This isn’t what Creative Commons does.

Most users of Creative Commons licenses may not care to understand the legal details (but you can bet that many policymakers and the legal departments of institutions do), but their desire to see the licenses hold up in court requires that someone does — that’s Creative Commons’ job, and it requires paying attention to the opinions of legal experts — we must make the licenses work not just for a particular audience in a particular jurisdiction, but across many domains and globally. The strength of our legal resources — on staff, an amazing affiliate network, board, and pro-bono — is what allows most users to rationally not give a rat’s hat about the legal details involved.

So the listening to the opinions of legal experts is crucial, but so is listening to users. Philipp’s request for more simplicity, especially in the form of fewer licenses and versions therof, is not uncommon. Creative Commons is doing alright here — especially considering potential user requests for more narrowly targeted licenses are at least as common. Here are some examples of doing well:

  • In a little over four years from its launch late 2002, Creative Commons released four versions (1.0, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0) of its core licenses. In the last nearly three and a half years, no new versions have been released — and none will be for some time. A version 3.x was briefly discussed in late 2007 due to concerns brought up by Wikipedians; instead of rushing a new version, we listened very carefully and took a number of steps, none legal, to assure Wikipedians that CC would be an excellent steward of the license used by Wikipedia — with the successful result of Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites migrating to CC BY-SA as their main content license last year.
  • In 2004 CC launched two sets of specialty copyright licenses — sampling and developing nations. None have been launched since then — and sampling and developing nations were retired in 2007.
  • The CC0 public domain waiver, launched last year raises the bar for generality of CC tools — it was designed to be universal from the beginning so that porting to different jurisdictions is not desired — and demonstrates the value of legal expertise — making a public domain dedication work globally (our first attempt launched in 2002 only targeted U.S. law) is no small task.
  • Since the launch of Creative Commons there has been little “license proliferation” for content (arguably there has been de-proliferation, as the pre-CC pioneers have recommended or facilitated using CC), surely in large part due to CC’s demonstrated competence.

It’s also worth noting that while CC has and does listen very carefully to particular audiences, maximizing value for any particular audience is not good enough. Maximizing the global value of the commons requires a focus on interoperability — furthered by both getting legal details right and non-proliferation.

Suggestions regarding how we do do even better encouraged. Philipp concludes with:

I would like to see CC separate its core business (the licences) more clearly from other programme areas and especially things that fall broadly into the fostering of “creativity (cultural, educational, scientific and other content) in the commons”. This separation should include budgets – so that donors can choose what activities their money ends up supporting. Don’t get me wrong, I think creativity should be supported, and probably in a fairly vague and flexible way, but I think part of the funding challenge for CC is that people, especially those who are making small donations, are comfortable funding the licences but might not be as comfortable with CC using their donation to foster “creativity”. That applies to me for example.

Supporting creativity in a vague and flexible way would be massive mission creep for Creative Commons. Even supporting the creation of CC-licensed works is out of scope, and the Catalyst Grants description of fundable work specifically calls this out. However, we do a significant amount of work that could be characterized as communications, education, marketing, advocacy, evangelism, business development, tool building, etc. to support license adoption. This is crucial work for Creative Commons to do for the licenses are much, much more valuable with massive adoption. There’s more useful work to do here than we can do directly — thus our priority on developing our affiliate network and other means of scaling Creative Commons’ impact without adding substantially to our core cost structure. That’s fundamentally what the Catalyst Campaign and Catalyst Grants are about — raising a little bit of money to spur capacity for growing CC adoption massively beyond what CC can do directly.

Supporting Creative Commons (and our current Catalyst Campaign in particular) is much more highly targeted than “supporting creativity” — but there isn’t a bright line between “funding the licenses” and funding work done to support and promote the licenses. I would argue there shouldn’t be. The licenses are great products that requires support and promotion to realize their potential — like any great product. Creative Commons is a small organization, and among our small staff, most have overlapping duties that support the licenses in multiple ways. We do work hard to deploy our limited resources in the most scalable way possible. We also understand that the licenses are critical infrastructure that must be kept up and defended even if funding dries up, so we do make contingency plans for such scenarios.

Hopefully this addresses some of Philipp’s excellent and reasonable concerns. Again, specific suggestions for how we can do better are strongly encouraged! Now please join Philipp and his colleagues at P2PU in supporting this work!

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CC Newsletter #17: CC Launches Catalyst Campaign!

Allison Domicone, June 4th, 2010

CC Newsletter #17
Photo: Blue by Piotr Zurek / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Creative Commons launches Catalyst Grants! Read about our Catalyst Grants initiative (which you can support today!) that will empower educators, researchers, and technologists around the globe, as well as other exciting news developments for Creative Commons in education, science, and art & media. Download and enjoy!

Subscribe to receive our monthly e-news updates and quarterly PDF newsletters by email, and stay on top of the inspiring stories coming out of the Commons.


 

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Tell Shareable how much you share and earn $10 for CC!

Jane Park, June 3rd, 2010

Shareable, the online magazine about sharing culture, is carrying out an innovation study and wants you to tell them how much you share in a short 15 minute survey.

The study will assess individuals’ awareness of current shared offerings, their attitudes about sharing and trust, and their engagement with sharing across a variety of contexts. Participants will be contributing to a relatively new and increasingly important knowledge base. Moreover, they will be playing a critical role in helping to generate new ideas and opportunities for the future of sharing. (Results will be shared on both Shareable.net and Latitude’s life-connected.com in the coming weeks.)

At the end of the survey, you’ll get paid $10; you can choose to pocket it as an Amazon gift card or donate the cash towards the Creative Commons Catalyst Campaign that’s going on right now… or the Project for Public Spaces (we hope you’ll choose CC!).

So help Shareable and CC out–take the survey!

You can learn more about the survey here. Shareable magazine is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA. For more on Shareable, stay tuned as CC Talks With Shareable co-founder and publisher, Neal Gorenflo, to go live next week.

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The Catalyst Campaign: Donate Now to Help Fund CC’s Catalyst Grants

Allison Domicone, June 1st, 2010

We’re thrilled today to announce the launch of the Catalyst Campaign – from now through June 30, Creative Commons is raising money to fund our recently-launched Catalyst Grants program.

Catalyst Grants will make it possible for individuals and organizations to harness the power of Creative Commons. A grant might enable a group in a developing country to research how Open Educational Resources can positively impact its community. Another could support a study of entrepreneurs using Creative Commons licenses to create a new class of socially responsible businesses.

But we can’t do it without your help. Our goal is to raise $100,000 from CC supporters like you to fund the grants that will make all this possible. Donate today to help spread our mission of openness and innovation across all cultural and national boundaries.

Special thanks to the Milan Chamber of Commerce for recognizing the importance of funding this initiative by generously donating EUR 10,000! The Milan Chamber of Commerce and its Promos Network already work to promote international collaboration and innovation and we’re honored they’ve stepped up to jumpstart the campaign.

I Love To Share
by Ruby Bhattacharya / CC BY 2.0

Will you join in?

Advocate: Take a moment to spread the word about the Catalyst Campaign and Grants program on your blog and social networks with our banners and buttons.

Donate: If you give $75 or more, you can become the proud owner of one of these bright and cheerful, limited edition “I Love to Share” t-shirts. Every bit helps so give what you can today to ignite openness and innovation around the world!

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