In the past few weeks, the Foundation Center and the philanthropic world have taken two big steps forward in transparency. First, 15 of the nation’s largest foundations joined the “Reporting Commitment,” agreeing to release grant information regularly through Foundation Center’s Glasspockets repository. Then last week, the Foundation Center relaunched IssueLab, an extensive repository of third-sector research. IssueLab’s mission is to “gather, index, and share the collective intelligence of the social sector” more effectively.
All of the IssueLab metadata is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA and all of the content is accessible (for reading, if not necessarily for other uses) for free. Everything released to Glasspockets under the Reporting Commitment is licensed under BY NC.
Taken together, these initiatives present some interesting possibilities for the future of open data in the foundation space. Foundation Center president Bradford K. Smith discussed the implications of both initiatives in a blog post:
If you think foundations are only ATM machines and nonprofits just service providers, think again. With the launch of IssueLab, there is one place you can go to find more than eleven thousand knowledge products published, funded, produced, and/or generated by foundations and nonprofits in the U.S. and around the globe.
Last month, the Foundation Center announced the Reporting Commitment, an effort by fifteen of America’s largest philanthropic foundations to make their grants data — who they give money to, how much, where, and for what purpose — available in an open, machine-readable format. Starting today, through IssueLab, the social sector can also access what it knows as a result of that funding. A service of the Foundation Center, IssueLab gathers, indexes, and shares the sector’s collective intelligence on a free, open, and searchable platform, and encourages users to share, copy, distribute, and even adapt the work. It’s a big step for philanthropy and “open knowledge.”
Smith went on to explain why it’s important that these resources aren’t just freely available; they’re openly licensed too:
Free is good, but IssueLab promotes openness in a number of other ways. First, the metadata — the abstracts and “tags” developed for all reports in the collection — is available under a Creative Commons license and can be grabbed and/or remixed by anyone as long as they use it for non-commercial purposes. Second, only work that is available for free is included in the IssueLab collection. These are public “assets,” in that the organizations which produced them already have tax-exempt status and/or have received government funding, and they should be easy for the public to find. Sorry but Kardashian Konfidential will not be found on IssueLab. Third, IssueLab itself is an open-source platform whose underlying codebase/framework is continually being improved by a community of developers. And fourth, our own developers embrace the Open Archives Initiative (OAI), which develops and promotes interoperability standards to facilitate the efficient dissemination of online content.
Here at Creative Commons, we’re big proponents of foundations and other institutions sharing their data — and the works they produce or fund — under an open license. It makes sense for foundations to reciprocate the public’s trust by showing how philanthropic dollars have been spent, and the foundations that join in the Reporting Commitment make that information available much sooner and much more easily than it is under the federally-required information returns. By use of Glasspockets, the public can see and compare the activities of the participating foundations. Private foundations are tax-exempt because they are dedicated to the public benefit; those that share their data and research in ways that invite the reuse and contributions of others add a valuable new dimension to their public service.4 Comments »
IssueLab, “an open source archive of research produced by nonprofit organizations, university-based research centers, and foundations,” launches their Research Remix Video Contest this week. The contest “aims to engage working artists and digital media students with social issues while encouraging nonprofits to make their research more broadly available and usable through open licensing.” If you recall my interview with co-founder Lisa Brooks earlier this year, a good chunk of IssueLab’s research is licensed under one of the Creative Commons licenses. From the press release,
“Contestants will be asked to remix facts or data from one of over 300 openly licensed research
reports on IssueLab into a video or animation under three minutes in length. Winners will be selected
after the December 31, 2009 deadline, and nonprofits will be able to use all submitted videos freely to
support their causes.
The launch of “Research Remix” coincides with Open Access Week, an international movement that
pushes for broad and free access to research findings and publicly funded studies. IssueLab’s official
participation is marked by its continued commitment to bringing open access and licensing to the
social and policy research fields. “It is especially important that nonprofits consider openly licensing
their research and resources. By giving people the ability to re-use, remix, and share research on
social issues we can much better inform and engage public debate and public policy.”
We encourage you to remix and submit your videos by the year’s end, especially because all finalists receive a free CC t-shirt and buttons (not to mention first prize is a netbook). I’m also one of the judges, so I look forward to your submissions!No Comments »
For those of you who’ve been following, ccLearn started interviewing innovative people and projects in the open education space last April, when we kicked things off with a highly informative interview of Leigh Blackall at Otago Polytechnic (the university whose default licensing policy is CC BY. Inside OER is the current culmination of our efforts, the full suite of interviews available for redistribution and remix at the ccLearn site.
Now we’ve tried something new. For our latest Inside OER, IssueLab’s Lisa Brooks on Opening Up Research, we decided to make our own adaptation, lifting the complete text of the interview and remixing it with images, screen shots, and speech bubbles. Drawing extensively from resources in the public domain, CC licensed photos on Flickr, and the help of a handy application known as Comic Life, we give you our very first issue of Inside OER, the Comic.
Hopefully, this will not only grab but sustain short attention spans. IssueLab, in particular, is doing great things for the open education community and Lisa is especially apt at articulating exactly what that is and what they are aiming for.