milestone

Wiki* milestones and mania

Mike Linksvayer, August 17th, 2009

ReadWriteWeb* writes that English Wikipedia just passed the 3 million article mark. While this is a great accomplishment that will surely be widely reported, RWW correctly highlights that “Wikipedia” is much more than the English site:

The family of sites as a whole has more than 13 million articles in more than 260 languages, not counting discussion pages and other errata.

As RWW also notes, Wikimedia Commons, the media repository sibling of Wikipedia, is about to pass the 5 million file mark.

And it just happens that the vast number of wikis hosted by the commercial wiki platform Wikia will cumulatively surpass the 3 million article mark soon.

All Wikipedia articles are now available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, all media hosted at Wikimedia Commons is under this or another free license or in the public domain, and most of the wikis hosted by Wikia are also under CC BY-SA, as are many other wikis, for example Wikitravel, WikiEducator, Planet Math, and Appropedia. Read about why this interoperability is a win for free culture.

Numbers alone are impressive enough and hint that Wikipedia has blown up the encyclopedia category and that other wiki projects will supersede other existing categories of cultural and educational artifact. However, the numbers only begin to tell the story. One place to see this unfold in highly concentrated form is Wikimania, the annual international conference of the Wikimedia Foundation. See the conference schedule, including panels featuring CC France and CC Taiwan co-founders Melanie Dulong de Rosnay and Shun-ling Chen (Authorship, Licenses, and the Wiki Borg) and me (OER Content Interoperability for WikiMedia platforms).

* Thanks ReadWriteWeb for all your awesome CC coverage!

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Google Books adds Creative Commons license options

Eric Steuer, August 13th, 2009

Some very exciting news for authors, publishers, and readers: Today, Google launched a program to enable rightsholders to make their Creative Commons-licensed books available for the public to download, use, remix, and share via Google Books.

The new initiative makes it easy for participants in Google Books’ Partner Program to mark their books with one of the six Creative Commons licenses (or the CC0 waiver). This gives authors and publishers a simple way to articulate the permissions they have granted to the public through a CC license, while giving people a clear indication of the legal rights they have to CC-licensed works found through Google Books.

The Inside Google Books post announcing the initiative talks a bit about what this all means:

We’ve marked books that rightsholders have made available under a CC license with a matching logo on the book’s left hand navigation bar. People can download these books in their entirety and pass them along: to friends, classmates, teachers, and so on. And if the rightsholder has chosen to allow people to modify their work, readers can even create a mashup–say, translating the book into Esperanto, donning a black beret, and performing the whole thing to music on YouTube.

The project launched with a terrific starter collection of CC-licensed books that includes: 55 Ways to Have Fun with Google by Philipp Lenssen; Blown to Bits by Harold Abelson, Ken Ledeen, Harry R. Lewis; Bound by Law? by Keith Aoki, James Boyle, Jennifer Jenkins; Code: Version 2 by Lawrence Lessig; Democratizing Innovation by Eric von Hippel; Federal Budget Deficits: America’s great consumption binge by Paul Courant; The Future of the Internet — And How to Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain; Little Brother by Cory Doctorow; and A World’s Fair for the Global Village by Carl Malamud.

Stay tuned for further announcements – as the project expands to include more authors and publishers, Google Books plans to add the ability for people to restrict searches to books they can share, use, and remix.

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OpenEd—the new Open Education Community site

Jane Park, July 28th, 2009

Some of you may already be familiar with the term open ed, short for open education—which represents the fantastic movement around opening up educational resources so that anyone, anywhere, can access, use, and derive existing educational materials in new, creative ways or to simply adapt them to their unique individual needs and local contexts. There are so many great educational materials out there—some already openly licensed and a great deal more in the public domain—and the problem is that a lot of people still don’t know about them or how to use them. Similarly, the open education movement has produced some really exciting projects and programs in recent years, but there is no global landing space for these inspiring movers and shakers to really connect as a coherent community.

Open Ed, the new Open Education Community site, is the result of brainstorming with other initiatives in the movement on how to provide such a space. We designed the site for open education community members, but also for teachers, learners, and those who just want to get involved. We were able to build it thanks to the strong support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Open Ed is hosted by ccLearn, but we are merely providing the web space. We’ve done some initial work on it, but the site is yours—be you an OER advocate, a teacher wanting to connect with other teachers, or a learner who would love to do the same. And you can contribute in any way you like, because Open Ed runs on MediaWiki, the same software that powers Wikipedia. Additionally, Open Ed utilizes the Semantic MediaWiki extension to enable data querying and analysis. For added functionality, we have installed various other useful extensions.

Wait… hasn’t this site been up for a while?

You’re right; it’s been public on the web for a couple of months now. Some of you may already have accounts. Others have even blogged about it previously. But we haven’t made the official announcement launch until now because we wanted to get some initial feedback from existing community members. So we need your help! Please spread the word, via your personal and professional channels—and most of all, use the space for what you need to do! It’s a wiki. That means you can create a page for your own project, add your project to ODEPO (the Open Database of Educational Projects and Organizations) for others to find, run your own data query for research purposes, or do virtually anything else you deem necessary to strengthen and promote open education, including translating the entire site into other languages. Not to mention that content is a little lacking right now, and it’s up to us to make it a great landing place for newbies to open education.

Give us feedback!

Please let us know what you think. Anyone can add to or improve the space by simply clicking “edit”, but as the hosts of this space, we would love to help with the process. You can also share your thoughts on Twitter with an #opened hashtag.

Lastly, thanks to White Whale, an Oakland-based consulting, design, and development company, who designed Open Ed and helped us with some of our messaging points.

Happy exploring!

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Glenn Otis Brown Returns to Creative Commons as Board Member

Eric Steuer, July 24th, 2009

We are thrilled to announce that Glenn Otis Brown has joined the Creative Commons board of directors.

Brown was CC’s executive director from 2002-2005; as one of the core members of the CC team in our early days, he was critical in developing projects that provide the groundwork for the work we do today. Brown is currently YouTube’s music business development manager and works with major and independent labels, publishers, and artists to build new business opportunities. In the press release we issued today to publicize this news, Creative Commons CEO Joi Ito says this of Brown:

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Glenn join the board. As Executive Director of the organization in its early days, Glenn established many of the critical ideas and relationships that CC is built upon today. That background, combined with his experience in developing creative projects and partnerships at YouTube, gives him particularly valuable insight into the opportunities for Creative Commons in the worlds of business, media, and culture at large.”

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Poland’s Version 3.0 Licenses Now Online

Michelle Thorne, July 23rd, 2009

Flag_of_PolandInternationalization is an essential aspect and major strength of Creative Commons. Our global efforts focus not only on establishing new jurisdiction projects, but also on working closely with long-standing national projects to upgrade localized licenses and to strengthen the commons worldwide. CC Poland, one of the earliest jurisdictions to found a national Creative Commons project, releases today its set of Poland-specific CC licenses at Version 3.0, Creative Commons’ most current license version.

The upgrade is significant for several reasons, one being that Version 3.0 encompasses our long-held vision of establishing a compatibility structure to allow interoperability between different flexible content copyright licenses. This structure has opened doors for important adopters, such as the Wikipedia community and Wikimedia Foundation, who recently approved the adoption the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 (CC BY-SA) license as the main content license for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites.

The Polish upgrade to Version 3.0 was led by Alek Tarkowski, Justyna Hofmokl, and Krzysztof Siewicz and hosted at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling at Warsaw University (ICM UW) and the Grynhoff, Woźny and Maliński Law Firm. Through these efforts and more, CC Poland continues to build the local Creative Commons community and promote free culture.

An enormous thank you to CC Poland, to Alek, Justyna, and Krzysztof, for their invaluable efforts to support Polish creators and to improve Creative Commons’ ever-growing international pool of free legal tools.

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Launching DiscoverEd—an education search prototype

Jane Park, July 20th, 2009

Last year, we demoed DiscoverEd along with ODEPO at the Open Education Conference in Logan, Utah. CTO Nathan Yergler explained its various features and some if its issues. Since then, it’s been worked on extensively and some of its functionality has improved. We’ve even gone ahead and produced a white paper, which explains what DiscoverEd is, what it aims to do, and what you can do to help improve it.

With the production of this white paper, we would like to officially announce the launch of DiscoverEd. Entirely open source, DiscoverEd is an experimental project from ccLearn which attempts to provide scalable search and discovery for educational resources on the web. Metadata, including the license and subject information available, are exposed in the result set.

As noted above, DiscoverEd has been discussed at a few meetings already, so this launch is mainly to help spread the word and to spark additional conversation. If you are an educator or anyone else looking for educational resources, it is available for immediate use and we welcome your feedback.

We want to emphasize that DiscoverEd is a prototype intended to explore how structured data may be used to enhance the search experience. We are by no means launching this as a definitive tool; in fact, we intend just the opposite. We are launching this so that others in the search and discovery space can contribute to this project. There are a number of known issues which we would love help on, especially since we think the community’s input and work should go into shaping future versions of this tool. This tool is currently intended for educational resources, but there is no reason anyone can’t take and adapt it for other purposes.

Where do the search results come from?

Results come from institutional and third party repositories who have expended time and resources curating the metadata. These curators either create or aggregate educational resources and maintain information about them. If you’re a producer or curator of educational resources and would like to be included in the search contact us. If you’re an educator, we want to hear from you. What works for you? What’s broken? What can be improved?

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Digital Economy Defined

Mike Linksvayer, July 18th, 2009

July 14 the Australian Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy released Australia’s Digital Economy: Future Directions under a CC BY-NC-ND licence.

Many readers of this blog will be especially interested in the report’s section on open access to public sector information:

An open access approach to the release of public sector information is a logical response to the digital economy and innovation benefits that can result from new and emerging digital use and re-use, subject to privacy, national security or confidentiality concerns. In this context, ‘open access’ means access on terms and in formats that clearly permit and enable such use and re-use by any member of the public. This allows anyone with an innovative idea to add value to existing public sector information for the common good, often in initially unforeseen or unanticipated ways.

As one commentator has argued, “[n]o one supplier, public or private, can design all information products required to meet the needs of all users in a modern information-based economy.” By opening access to appropriate categories of government information to all members of the public, those best placed to innovate can do so and the market can decide which product is most useful.

The report covers many other topics, befitting its definition of “digital economy”:

The global network of economic and social activities that are enabled by information and communications technologies, such as the internet, mobile and sensor networks.

Congratulations to all involved, especially former CC General Counsel Mia Garlick, who last year joined the Australian Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to lead its digital economy initiatives.

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Google Image Search Implements CC License Filtering

Fred Benenson, July 9th, 2009

Google Image Logo

Today, Google officially launched the ability to filter search results using Creative Commons licenses inside their Image Search tool. It is now easy to restrict your Image Search results to find images which have been tagged with our licenses, so that you can find content from across the web that you can share, use, and even modify. Searches are also capable of returning content under other licenses, such as the GNU Free Documentation License, or images that are in the public domain.

To filter by CC search, go to Google’s advanced Image Search page and select the options you’d like in the “Usage rights” section. Your results will be restricted to images marked with CC licenses or other compatibly licensed photos.

Remember, Google can only provide search results that its algorithms find tagged with the license you specify; it is your obligation to verify the license of the image you’re using and make sure you’re conforming to its guidelines.

This is a huge step forward for the future of image search on the web, so congratulations to the Google team on another great CC implementation!

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Wikipedia + CC BY-SA = Free Culture Win!

Mike Linksvayer, June 22nd, 2009

As anyone following this site closely must know, the Wikipedia community and Wikimedia Foundation board approved the adoption of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) license as the main content license for Wikipedia and other Wikimedia sites. A post about the community vote has many links explaining the history and importance of this move.


Detail of Win win relationship by Alex Brollo / CC BY-SA

Starting last week with English Wikipedia (there are over 700 Wikimedia sites in over 250 languages — the image to the right is sourced from one of them), the copyright notice on Wikimedia sites is being changed to CC BY-SA. See the Wikimedia Foundation Terms of Use.

The outreach effort to non-Wikimedia wikis to take advantage of this migration opportunity is ongoing. Help if you can. One very important milestone was reached June 19, when most wikis hosted by Wikia (there are thousands, including some big ones) converted to CC BY-SA.

Hooray for Jimmy Wales, founder of both Wikipedia and Wikia! (Note the two organizations are unrelated.) CC is fortunate to also have Wales as a member of our board of directors. Without his vision, this unification of free culture licensing would not have been possible.

Here’s to a huge win for Wikipedians, all of free culture, and everyone who made it possible! Already the licensing change is enabling content to flow between Wikipedia and other projects. Will you interoperate? See a post on my personal blog for a long-winded conjecture about long-term impacts of the licensing change.

Finally, note that this is only one instance of the Wikipedia community showing great foresight and leadership. For example, clearly the Wikipedia community’s steadfast commitment to open formats played a major role in giving open video (effectively meaning Theora) a chance for wide adoption, which it now appears on the verge of. Hooray for visionary free culture communities and many wins to come!

Addendum 2009-06-30

Erik Moeller writes on the Wikimedia Foundation blog that the licensing update has been rolled out on all Wikimedia wikis:

Perhaps the most significant reason to choose CC-BY-SA as our primary content license was to be compatible with many of the other admirable endeavors out there to share and develop free knowledge: projects like Citizendium (CC-BY-SA), Google Knol (a mix of CC licenses, including CC-BY and CC-BY-SA), WikiEducator (CC-BY-SA), the Encylcopedia of Earth (CC-BY-SA), the Encyclopedia of the Cosmos (CC-BY-SA), the Encyclopedia of Life (a mix of CC licenses), and many others. These communities have come up with their own rules of engagement, their own models for sharing and aggregating knowledge, but they’re committed to the free dissemination of information. Now this information can flow freely to and from Wikimedia projects, without unnecessary legal boundaries.

This is beginning to happen. A group of English Wikipedia volunteers have created a WikiProject Citizendium Porting, for example, to ensure that high quality information developed by the Citizendium community can be made available through Wikipedia as well, with proper attribution.

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Free Software Foundation introduces RDF for GNU licenses

Mike Linksvayer, June 22nd, 2009

We’re very happy to note that the Free Software Foundation has introduced RDF for GNU licenses. This means the FSF has described each of its licenses at a high level in the same “machine readable” framework that CC uses to describe our licenses.

CC worked with the FSF to extend our vocabulary for describing copyright licenses in RDF, but it’s key to understand that no collaboration was required. They could have extended our vocabulary without asking or published their own without reference to ours, leaving it to third parties to describe mappings between the two (also using RDF). As with free software, using the semantic web means users have the freedom to innovate without asking for permission. Perhaps it is no surprise that cutting edge semantic web software tends to be free software. It feels like there may be under-exploited connections to be drawn between the free software and semantic web communities, e.g., hinted at in Evan Prodromou’s keynote at the FSF’s LibrePlanet conference, somewhat as it feels there may be under-exploited connections between the free software and free culture communities.

Less philosophically, we hope this small affordance helps others build tools which make it easier to find and use free software. For example, this list of free software hosting facilities is only the tip of the iceberg, and rapidly growing due to the rise of distributed version control systems. More project metadata will help computers help make sense of it all.

It’s also worth noting that RDF descriptions of licenses such as CC’s and now the FSF’s give users an additional tool to use to find and manage information, in contrast with Digital RightsRestrictions Management, which gives the publishers of information a tool to abuse users. For more on the latter, of course see the FSF’s Defective By Design campaign.

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