mike linksvayer

FSCONS: Free Society Conference and Nordic Summit

Michelle Thorne, September 26th, 2008

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Free Culture, Free Software, and Free Content will join forces under the banner of “Free Society” at FSCONS on October 24-26 at the IT University of Götheborg, Sweden. The orgnaizing trinity, Creative Commons Sweden, Free Software Foundation Europe, and Wikimedia Sverige, see FSCONS as a chance to reach out with their respective communities and build joint projects with like-minded activists and organizations.

A strong speakers lineup provides the rhetorical food-for-thought in the Free Culture track. Mike Linksvayer (Creative Commons) asks, “How far is free culture behind free software?” as he charts key indicators and historical factors in the progress of each. Eva Hemmungs Wirten argues that the digital commons extends back to nineteenth-century London, while Oscar Swartz keynotes the events with the warning that Sweden’s controversial “Lex Orwell” may usher in “The End of Free Communication”.

Nikolaj Hald Nielsen spotlights Amarok 2, the intuitive music player for Linux and Unix, demonstrating a viable intersection of Free Culture and Free Software. Meanwhile, other landscapes are being analyzed by Inga Walling (Open Street Map), who recounts the project’s efforts to create and provide free geographic data.

John Buckman (Magnatune) riffs on “Squeezing the Evil out of the Music Industry” by using CC licensing to rethink record labels. And since online attribution persists as a thorny issues for many music content sites, Victor Stone (ccMixter) reports on how some platforms are solving the problem with the Sample Pool API.

The blend of timely topics and kindred communities makes FSCONS an exciting event to follow this autumn. Thanks a lot to the organizing teams for their efforts — we’re looking forward to this!

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Mike Linksvayer

Glenn Otis Brown, April 5th, 2005

(Next in a continuing series of blurbs about Commoners I’m thankful to have worked with.)

If there is one person whose heroics are most unsung at Creative Commons, it could very well be Mike Linksvayer. Mike has been the CTO for about two years. He came on at a crucial time, when CC was growing jerkily from a loose network of contractors to a real organization, and he brought stability from the get-go. Stability isn’t sexy, and it’s not very visible from the outside. If CC is like a band, then Mike’s the drummer. People not in bands rarely ever get how much a tasteful, subdued drummer matters. But people in bands know that they’re impossibly valuable. And CC, when you boil it down, is all about the drums.

Mike is the force behind, among other things: the vibrant cc-metadata mailing list (our most active), our membership at the W3C, our amazing multi-language license interface and Commons Deeds (have you taken a good look at our stuff in Suomeski?, Dutch? — amazing!), the discovery and harnessing of the mighty talent called Nathan Yergler (profiled here earlier), the move to leverage CC Search off Nutch‘s open code base, countless tech developments and deals, a huge chunk of our blog posts, and who-knows-how-many other technological things that I don’t know about (because I simply don’t understand them). Something else you may not know: He also knows the the nitty-gritty of our licenses as well as anyone.

Mike’s got a fine, bleak sense of humor, which I for one appreciate. This year he sported the best, most efficient Halloween costume — shorts, and a tshirt declaring a single phrase — that I’ve seen in a while. Maybe the same fearlessness that fuels his humor also drives his ability to call anyone on their b.s. — a skill and a will that are rare and crucial in this “space.”

Another thing I love about Mike is his taste. I’m a firm believer in the notion that the more stuff you hate, the better taste you have. Mike, I can testify, hates a lot of stuff. Which means he loves the stuff only really worth loving. So I’ve learned a lot from him — about what arguments are too cheesy, what sentiments too sentimental, and not least, what Bay Area radio is actually worth listening to.

Here’s a toast to Mike Linksvayer, in the hope I get to work with him again very soon. All of you who still get to are luckier even than you might think.

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