This year we’re letting some of our exceptional CC Superheroes tell you in their own words why they support Creative Commons and why you should too. The first is Robin Sloan, a writer who works at the intersection of storytelling and technology. Here is his story. Join Robin in supporting Creative Commons with a donation today.
“I’m a writer you probably haven’t heard of. But if I’m right about Creative Commons, and about the way books and culture work — and if I’m a little bit lucky — then your kids will read my stuff. And their kids too.
Let me bring you up to speed:
Just about a year ago, I used a site called Kickstarter to gather a posse of patrons and, in the span of about two months, wrote and published a short novel. It featured a character named Annabel Scheme, a sort of Sherlock Holmes for the 21st century.
After it was finished, I mailed the books off to my backers — about a thousand copies, total — and then put the PDF online, for free, with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 license.
Often, that’s where this story ends. Triumph! Success! Righteous sharing! Right?
I actually think there’s another step. So I’ll explain what I did next, and then I’ll explain why.
I had a chunk of change left over from the printing — around $2,000 — so I turned it into a Remix Fund. I polled my patrons for interesting ways to reimagine the story I’d just published, and interesting people to do the reimagining. I got a small avalanche of suggestions, each with a small budget attached, and so we all voted on it. The winners included a singer/songwriter and a 3D artist. They did their thing, and now there’s an Annabel Scheme song and a stunning set of images of her alternate San Francisco. (And, in true CC spirit, the raw 3D models can be downloaded and reused, as well.)
But why bother? Why not just wait for people to discover the book, get inspired, and remix it under their own steam? Isn’t that more legit?
Maybe. But for me, Creative Commons is a survival strategy.
I think the most important thing about a book is not actually the book. Instead, it’s the people who have assembled around it. It’s everyone who’s ever read it, and everyone who’s ever re- or misappropriated it. It’s everyone who’s ever pressed it into someone else’s hands. (That’s another thing about Creative Commons: it supports not just remixing, but sharing, too. I publish in Amazon’s Kindle store as well, and I love it — but if you buy one of my stories over there, you can’t ever give it to anyone else.)
Anyway, it’s that group of people that makes a book viable, both commercially and culturally. And without them — all alone, with only its author behind it — a book is D.O.A.
So I’m utterly intent on assembling that group, on nurturing it, making it passionate and resilient, and I’ll use every tool at my disposal to do so: Kickstarter, my site, Twitter, a Creative Commons license, and a Remix Fund to boot.
Did it work for “Annabel Scheme”? It’s too early to tell. There’s been more remixing since that first flurry — there’s this software project, and I just learned last week that there’s a comic in the works, too.
If you aspire to create culture today, in the year 2010, you cannot escape the vastness of it all — the sheer quantity of stuff that is being produced, and the sheer quantity of stuff that is being forgotten. In a world like this, Creative Commons is not just a license — not just a passive agreement with some theoretical public. Instead, I think it’s an active, urgent signal to a posse of potential allies.
It says: I want this thing to succeed, but I need your help.
And it says: join me. Make this yours, too.
So please join me in supporting Creative Commons. After all, we’ve got a lot of kids and grandkids to entertain.”Comments Off on Featured Superhero: Robin Sloan
Imagine a world where knowledge flows freely and can be built upon without limits. Imagine a world where culture, art and media are available to everyone, scientific content is shared by corporations and research institutions, and shared intelligence augments human rights efforts across borders.
A legion of Creative Commons (CC) Superheroes is already at work, using our amazing tools to save people from failed sharing all over the planet. GlaxoSmithKline, a major pharmaceutical company, recently released its entire malarial data set using CC tools, speeding the urgent search for new medicines to tackle the devastating disease. Online communities at Flickr, SoundCloud, and Vimeo are making creative works available for anyone in the world to use freely and legally through license adoption. Publisher Pratham Books has begun to CC license more and more of the textbooks it provides to 14 million children in India, lifting them from a future of poverty and miseducation. When the earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, Google and Wired used CC tools to keep information widely available to relief workers, journalists, and governments worldwide.
Our challenge ahead is to join forces with this legion of CC Superheroes to fight the forces that don’t want an open web, or do not understand that sharing is a good thing. This fall, we’re recruiting a team of CC Superheroes to lead the world in the fight for creativity and innovation. We need to raise $550,000 by the end of the year to power up and support the work we’re doing. As a superhero, your role will be to donate, spread the word, and fundraise on our behalf. As an existing supporter of CC, you already believe that a sharing world is a good world. You have fueled our work and kept us going strong, and we thank you for that. It will take nothing short of a superhero’s strength to get us to where we need to go.
Join us in this fight for a free world — donate today.Comments Off on Join the Legion of CC Superheroes!