press release

UK moves towards opening government data

Jane Park, January 21st, 2010

In a step towards openness, the UK has opened up its data to be interoperable with the Attribution Only license (CC BY). The National Archives, a department responsible for “setting standards and supporting innovation in information and records management across the UK,” has realigned the terms and conditions of data.gov.uk to accommodate this shift. Data.gov.uk is “an online point of access for government-held non-personal data.” All content on the site is now available for reuse under CC BY. This step expresses the UK’s commitment to opening its data, as they work towards a Creative Commons model that is more open than their former Click-Use Licenses. From the blog post,

“This is the first major step towards the adoption of a non-transactional, Creative Commons style approach to licensing the re-use of government information.

The Government’s commitment in Putting the Frontline First: smarter government is to “establish a common licence to re-use data which is interoperable with the internationally recognised Creative Commons model”. This is key to supporting new information initiatives such as the beta release of data.gov.uk also launched today to promote transparency, public service improvement and economic growth.”

We at CC are thrilled by this new development and congratulate the UK for this move. Though we are confident that this shift will increase the UK’s capacity to foster reuse, collaboration, and innovation in government and the world, we hope to see the UK as well as other governments move in the future towards even fuller openness and the preferred standard for open data via CC Zero, a tool that “enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright-protected content to waive copyright interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright.”

This would not have been possible without the hard work of Creative Commons teams in the UK, especially that of Dr. Prodromos Tsiavos, our CC England and Wales Legal Project Lead. Check out the press release, the PerSpectIves or data.gov.uk blog, and the Guardian article for more details.

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“AcaWiki Increases Impact of Scholarly Research Using Web 2.0″

Jane Park, October 6th, 2009

AcaWiki, a project I briefly mentioned in Opening Education–the little things you can do, launches this week. Dubbed as the “Wikipedia for academic research,” AcaWiki’s mission is “to make academic research more accessible and interactive” by “[enabling] users to easily post and discuss human-readable summaries of academic papers and literature reviews online.” Founder Neeru Paharia (a doctoral candidate at Harvard Business School) explains that “cutting-edge research is often locked behind firewalls and therefore lacks impact. AcaWiki turns research hidden in academic journals into something that is more dynamic and accessible to have a greater influence in scholarship, and society.”

From the press release,

“AcaWiki’s work follows on the work of open-access publishers such as the Public Library of Science, as well as on the tradition of using new media to create public dialogue with science. Currently, it can cost up to $35 to download an academic paper—a significant cost, especially because thorough research on any topic usually entails downloading many papers. AcaWiki’s approach takes advantage of the fact that copyright does not apply to ideas, only to the written expression of those ideas. Scholars can thus post summaries of their or others’ research online as long as they are not copying verbatim beyond what fair-use laws permit. John Seely Brown, former head of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and a leader in the open education movement, says, “AcaWiki complements [the movement’s] work and opens a whole new dimension of making research accessible to the public.”

Like OpenEd, AcaWiki is “built using Semantic MediaWiki, combining the sophistication of the semantic web with the ease-of-use of a wiki. The site enables comments, discussion, user profiles, and tagging.” All AcaWiki content is available via CC BY.

AcaWiki also has some supporters in common with ccLearn and CC. Not only is AcaWiki starting with seed funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, but its board members include Mike Linksvayer, vice president of Creative Commons, and John Wilbanks, vice president of Science Commons.

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$8 Million Investment in Flatworld Knowledge

Jane Park, March 27th, 2009

Flatworld Knowledge, an open textbook initiative that has been in development since 2007, received $8 million in investments earlier this week. That’s right. $8 million. In investments, not grants.

The open textbook world got a lot of press last fall, and I’m guessing that not long after it started piquing the interest of the rich (and maybe famous). I don’t know; have you heard of Valhalla Partners, Greenhill SAVP, and High Peaks Venture Partners? They, along with several angel investors, are the ones who believe Flatworld Knowledge (aka open textbooks) will be the next big thing. From the press release:

“This is an exciting investment,” said Hooks Johnston, General Partner at Valhalla Partners. “Like MP3′s blew up the delivery model for recorded music, the blogosphere and online news sources blew up the newspaper business, Flat World Knowledge is poised to blow up the college textbook market. We’re backing the perfect team to make it happen.”

What makes an open textbook? Open licensing. Flatworld Knowledge currently has 22 business and economics textbooks in development, with 10 titles set for faculty review (almost) right about now. All of their textbooks will be open under one of the Creative Commons licenses, allowing you to not only freely access the books online, but to adapt, modify, and derive them, depending on the license.

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