A couple years ago, the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT Media Lab developed a Web 2.0 programming platform for kids called Scratch. Scratch allows kids, and virtually anyone else, to create and remix rich media of all kinds—video, video games, even simple photo animations. The programming behind Scratch focuses on building blocks, like Legos, to get kids not only friendly, but adept at the technology that dominates our world. Each user can create a project, whether it be a video or a video game, and upload it to share on the Scratch website. Scratch currently exceeds more than 400,000 projects, all licensed CC BY-SA, allowing any youth to flex her creative muscles and enhance a peer’s project by remixing it with her own.
The School Library Journal wrote up an excellent article about them last week, emphasizing that “Literacy in the 21st century encompasses the full range of skills needed to engage in our global society—computer, information technology, media, and information literacy skills.” The SLJ reports that Scratch is now being tested in libraries in the Minneapolis area, “to determine if the workshops and classes for young people are replicable and sustainable for a range of libraries.” Unsurprisingly, library staff are finding that kids quickly learn the program on their own, and are guided more by their own intuitions than an “expert’s” instruction.
I decided to try out Scratch myself, and found some cool projects along the way. One project by “cougars” is a photo animation of a human skateboard. Another is a video game simulation of the Buggers war from Ender’s Game by PetertheGeek. (How cool is that?)
What’s more, the Scratch program is global, available in more than 40 languages, and the code itself is free for anyone to copy, publish, or distribute.1 Comment »
There’s great news over at the Davos World Economic Forum blog:
We have just uploaded 300 of our best pictures from the Annual Meeting 2009 in Davos to the World Economic Forum’s Flickr account. Admittedly it took us some time to choose the best pictures from the thousands shot by our official photographers from Swiss-Image. My colleague Dafni Kokkidi spent the past week adding descriptions, tags and geo tags to all the photos. But it was well worth it, because these 300 high-resolution portrait shots are available for anyone to download in all sizes. Best of all, these pictures are licensed under the Creative Commons licence (BY-SA 3.0) meaning you can use them for free on your blog, on your website, in print and even for commercial purposes under the condition that you credit the World Economic Forum. We also uploaded the best pictures from our regional summits such as the recent World Economic Forum on Latin America in Rio.
Many of these photos have already made their way over to Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia, so they’ll probably be making an appearance in your favorite world leader’s article soon. Thanks to Davos for their substantial contribution to the commons!Comments Off
From CC Norway:
Today, Norway’s Minister of Government Administration and Reform, Heidi Grande Røys, launched a new book, edited by the Minister, about sharing and the social side of computer networks. The book is titled “Delte meninger” (in Norwegian this has the dual meaning of “shared opinions” and “conflicting opinions”). There is also a website dedicated to open, public debate about the issues raised in the book.
Both the website and the print edition will carry a ported Norwegian CC BY-SA 3.0 license.
The print edition of the book will be published by Universitetsforlaget and is the first instance of a major book in Norway that carries a Creative Commons license.Comments Off
A community vote is now underway, hopefully one of the final steps in the process the migration of Wikipedia (actually Wikipedias, as each language is its own site, and also other Wikimedia Foundation sites) to using Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike as its primary content license.
This migration would be a huge boost for the free culture movement, and for Wikipedia and Creative Commons — until the migration happens there is an unnecessary licensing barrier between the most important free culture project (Wikipedia of course, currently under the Free Documentation License, intended for software documentation) and most other free culture projects and individual creators, which use the aforementioned CC BY-SA license.
To qualify to vote, one must have made 25 edits to a Wikimedia site prior to March 15. Make sure you’re logged in to the project on which you qualify, and you should see a site notice at the top of each page that looks like the image below (red outline added around notice).
Click on “vote now” and you’ll be taken to the voting site. [Update: If you see a different site notice, it's because other important notices about the Wikimania conference are rotating with the vote notice. In that case you can go directly to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:SecurePoll/vote/1. For other Wikimedia sites, change
en.wikipedia to the domain of the site in question.]
For background on the migration process, see Wikimedia’s licensing update article and the following series of posts on the Creative Commons blog:
- On being a creative commoner
- Wikipedia and attribution
- Wikipedia licensing Q&A posted
- Wikipedia/CC news: FSF releases FDL 1.3
- Creative Commons Statement of Intent for Attribution-ShareAlike Licenses released
- DRAFT Creative Commons Statement of Intent for Attribution-ShareAlike Licenses
- Approved for Free Cultural Works
- Wikipedia and Creative Commons next steps
- Progress on license interoperability with Wikipedia
Indeed, please go vote yes to unify the free culture movement!37 Comments »
Before working for Creative Commons full time, I was a student activist in the Students for Free Culture movement. I’m still on the board of the organization (though this will change shortly as I am not seeking reelection in the upcoming board race), and I helped work on the Free Culture Conference 2008 at Berkeley. The Free Culture @ Berkeley team did a smash-up job of running the conference and recording all of the video for archival purposes and now all the videos are available online.
There are some really fantastic talks in here, including a keynote interview with John Lily Mozilla, Anthony Falzone on Fair Use, and many more. Check out the blip.tv channel here and download all the Attribution licensed videos.
We also commissioned a design for free culture t-shirts from Patrick Moberg. We are now retailing them through a modest PayPal storefront here for $20 + S/H, and all proceeds will go to help Students for Free Culture grow. The shirt designs are CC licensed under Attribution-ShareAlike, so feel free to download the files and make your own!Comments Off
Last fall we posted about the One Billion Fans contest run by the music website TribeOfNoise. Today the winner has been announced (pdf press release) — Dereck Rose, a Jamaican-born singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist.
Also congratulations to TribeOfNoise for pulling off the contest. To be completely blunt, the site looks more crassly promotional than many sites hosting music under CC licenses. However, just as bluntly, there’s a need for hard core promoters of freely licensed music (note that “hard core” modifies “promoters”) — judging by promotions for mass market music, that’s needed for mass market success, and there’s no reason freely licensed music shouldn’t compete in such arenas.
TribeOfNoise is also more innovative on the licensing front than most sites. All music on the site is available under CC Attribution-ShareAlike. Here’s an explanation sent last month from Hessel van Oorschot, the site’s “Chief of Noise”:
Artists like Moby, Nine Inch Nails and Radio Head made the first moves towards an alternative form of music distribution. A Dutch company called Tribe of Noise takes it one step further. At Tribe of Noise, composers upload their music under a Creative Commons license and allows companies to download, remix and commercially use the music FREE and 100% legal.
ARE THEY MAD?
WHY DO MUSICIANS GIVE AWAY THEIR MUSIC FOR FREE TO COMPANIES?
“While the traditional music industry is still in the repressive mode by introducing digital rights management and sending out the watch dogs, we rather think in solutions for like-minded spirits”, says Sandra Brandenburg, founder of Tribe of Noise. “It was not difficult to find thousands of independent artists worldwide who believe in sharing their music, and who actually encourage fans and professionals to freely distribute and build upon their work.”
“We take the Darwinist approach; adapt and you will survive. So instead of resisting change and become extinct you want to embrace change. People are going to share music, so give them something to share. Simultaneously the artist builds an inner circle of valuable contacts. Game developers ($50 billion industry), advertisement agencies ($750 billion industry) and others are more than willing to pay for music. Getting Exposure is the name of the game.”
The images, part of the German Photo Collection at Saxony’s State and University Library (SLUB), are being uploaded with corresponding captions and metadata. Afterward, volunteers will link the photos, all available under Germany’s ported CC BY-SA 3.0 license or in the public domain, to personal identification data and relevant Wikipedia articles. The collection depicts scenes from German history and daily life.
As a bonus for the donating library, the metadata supplied by the German Photo Collection will be expanded and annotated by Wikipedia users, and the results will be seeded back into the collection’s database.
The donation marks the first step in a collaboration between SLUB and Wikimedia Germany e.V., the pioneering Wikimedia chapter who faciliated a similar 100,000-image-strong cooperation with the German Federal Archives last December.
“Fotothek df n-06 0000031.jpg” by Eugen Nosko, provided to Wikimedia Commons by the Deutsche Fotothek of the Saxon State Library (SLUB) as part of a cooperation project. The file is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License.Comments Off
Creative Commons licensing has been highlighted in a couple prominent discussions of “cloud computing” documents recently.
Last week Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz wrote about Sun’s cloud computing strategy:
Second, we announced the API’s and file formats for Sun’s Cloud will all be open, delivered under a Creative Commons License. That means developers can freely stitch our and their cloud services into mass market products, without fear of lock-in or litigation from the emerging proprietary cloud vendors.
Today Microsoft’s Steven Martin wrote critically of a cloud computing “manifesto” that has apparently been developed behind closed doors:
To ensure that the work on such a project is open, transparent and complete, we feel strongly that any “manifesto” should be created, from its inception, through an open mechanism like a Wiki, for public debate and comment, all available through a Creative Commons license. After all, what we are really seeking are ideas that have been broadly developed, meet a test of open, logical review and reflect principles on which the broad community agrees. This would help avoid biases toward one technology over another, and expand the opportunities for innovation.
Of course a document can be at first developed in private, then released in public under a CC license, but Martin is certainly correct that a document that is open in its development and in what can be done with it upon release ought to be published under a CC license, as should the debate and comment surrounding document creation.
The manifesto Martin discusses apparently is still private, though a commenter on his post notes that the Cloud Computing Community Wiki has taken up the challenge to develop its own cloud computing manifesto in public under a CC Attribution-ShareAlike license. Of this, Sam Johnson commented on Martin’s blog:
Here’s hoping that when this consortium reveals itself their work will also be available under a CC-BY-SA license so we can cherry pick the better parts, but in the mean time if you have anything to add then please feel free to do so.
It’s really great that the necessity of releasing specifications, manifestos, and other documents under liberal CC licenses has such broad buy in. Among other things, the practice probably saves lots of money and frustration — big companies don’t have to spend on lawyers to negotiate copyright terms on the documents they collaborate on nor to develop onerous terms that individuals and others must agree to in order to contribute to such documents — to say nothing of the opportunity cost of not pre-clearing documents for translation and inclusion in educational materials.
However, it’s also important to note that applying a liberal CC license to a specification or other computing-related document is only one of a number of steps required to ensure that a computing technology is and remains really open. For example, is the technology patent encumbered? Is there an open source reference implementation? We sketched this out in a bit more detail almost a year ago in a post titled What good is a CC licensed specification?
Consider the above an opportunistic public service announcement rather than a criticism of Sun or Microsoft in these particular instances. Martin’s post is about a manifesto about interoperability — so a CC license may be all that is needed for that document to be open, at least after publication — though perhaps the document should recommend more than that of cloud computing initiatives that develop specifications intended to be interoperable. The rest of Schwartz’s post (actually it is 4th in a series of 4 posts) talks a lot about the free software community and building on open source software, so it is possible Sun is doing everything possible to make the cloud API it proposes open — I just haven’t evaluated whether that is the case.
It’s also worth noting here that not only big companies are thinking about keeping cloud computing open (if you’re annoyed by use of the fuzzy “cloud” term and have managed to read this far, congratulations) — many in the free and open source software community have related concerns and have begun to develop their own manifestos and guidelines (unsurprisingly, available under CC Attribution-ShareAlike), which interestingly address all of the above and other issues of software freedom and free culture.
Now go forth and make the cloud interoperable, open, and free (as in speech), understanding that CC licensing specifications and manifestos is a necessary step, but only one of many steps toward fulfilling your mission.☺
Update 2009-03-30: The Open Cloud Manifesto is now available, and it is indeed published under CC BY-SA.Comments Off
Saturday at Libre Planet, the Free Software Foundation’s annual conference, Creative Commons was honored to receive the FSF’s Award for Projects of Social Benefit:
The FSF Award for Projects of Social Benefit is presented annually to a project that intentionally and significantly benefits society by applying free software, or the ideas of the free software movement, in a project that intentionally and significantly benefits society in other aspects of life.
Since its launch in 2001, Creative Commons has worked to foster a growing body of creative, educational and scientific works that can be shared and built upon by others. Creative Commons has also worked to raise awareness of the harm inflicted by increasingly restrictive copyright regimes.
Creative Commons vice president Mike Linksvayer accepted the award saying, “It’s an incredible honor. Creative Commons should be giving an award to the Free Software Foundation and Richard Stallman, because what Creative Commons is doing would not be possible without them.”
Congratulations also to Wietse Venema, honored with the Award for the Advancement of Free Software for his “significant and wide-ranging technical contributions to network security, and his creation of the Postfix email server.”
FSF president Stallman presented a plaque by artist Lincoln Read commemorating the award to Creative Commons.
It is worth noting that the FSF Social Benefit Award’s 2005 and 2007 winners are Wikipedia and Groklaw both because it is tremendous to be in their company and as the former is in the process of migrating to a CC BY-SA license (thanks in large part to the FSF) and the latter publishes under a CC BY-NC-ND license.
Only last December CC was honored to receive an award from another of computing’s most significant pioneers, Doug Engelbart.
Thanks again to the Free Software Foundation and Richard Stallman. Please join us in continuing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his founding of the free software movement. As Stallman would say, “Happy Hacking!”Comments Off
Talented animator, writer and producer Nina Paley has freely released her animated film, Sita Sings the Blues under our copyleft license, Attribution-ShareAlike. Copies of Paley’s feature length film are available on Archive.org, LegalTorrents, and various other sites in many different formats. Nina explains her decision to her audience on the film’s site:
I hereby give Sita Sings the Blues to you. Like all culture, it belongs to you already, but I am making it explicit with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. Please distribute, copy, share, archive, and show Sita Sings the Blues. From the shared culture it came, and back into the shared culture it goes.
You don’t need my permission to copy, share, publish, archive, show, sell, broadcast, or remix Sita Sings the Blues. Conventional wisdom urges me to demand payment for every use of the film, but then how would people without money get to see it? How widely would the film be disseminated if it were limited by permission and fees? Control offers a false sense of security. The only real security I have is trusting you, trusting culture, and trusting freedom. …
Nina’s film retells the classic Indian myth Ramayana and has already received critical acclaim from the NYTimes, Rogert Ebert who gave it two thumbs up, and many others. On March 7th, it was broadcast on PBS/WNET and is now available streaming on thirteen.org.Comments Off