Rise of the mixmaster

Mike Linksvayer, August 3rd, 2005

Forbes magazine columnist Sam Whitmore writes about “four distinct groups that will create content no matter what transpires on the business end of media”:

Then there’s the rise of the mixmaster.

Traditional copyright law didn’t foresee this kind of thing.

A potential solution already exists from San Francisco-based Creative Commons, a non-profit organization whose legally binding copyright licenses give copyright holders different flavors of rights.

In my view, the most exciting developments in tomorrow’s media will come from creative mixing of digital media. No doubt big media will squelch unauthorized use of its intellectual property. Read Lawrence Lessig’s plaintive 2004 book, Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity.

There really isn’t much to add, given the length constraints of a short magazine column. Check out our mixmaster community. And oh yes, you can remix Free Culture (its CC license says you can).

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Divers hands make great work

Mike Linksvayer, August 2nd, 2005

Today I learned that the word divers has an old usage meaning “diverse” or “various.” Divers hands is an old phrase used to indicate collaborative authorship, now most often used for works building on H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, e.g., ‘by HP Lovecraft and Divers Hands’.

Skotos has released another CC-licensed comic: Lovecraft Country: Return to Arkham. How apropos.

Here’s a simple remix idea for the divers hands out there: turn the comic into a slideshow backed by appropriately dark and moody music from Magnatune, perhaps chosen from their classical and other selections. Mangantune and Skotos happen to use the same license terms: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, so you can freely mix their content (and any other using the same license), so long as you provide explicit attribution (sorry Mr. Hands), do not use commercially, and do release under the same terms.

Is it just me, or does “divers hands” sound creepy? That’s a good thing in this genre.

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Roll Your Own License Choooser

Nathan Yergler, August 2nd, 2005

In the past if you wanted to integrate Creative Commons license selection with your web application, there was one solution: the partner interface. Today there’s a second way: the Ajax Chooser. The Ajax Chooser is a PHP+Javascript library derived from wpLicense which encapsulates a license chooser.

Ajax Chooser uses the CC web services to load an up-to-date license chooser, complete with the most recent jurisdictions and license versions. The package includes everything you need to include a license chooser with only two PHP function calls in your web page. And because you host the PHP files on your web server, you’re free to apply CSS and styling information as appropriate for your application. This means tighter visual integration with your application, with the continued benefits of the partner interface.

You can download the 0.5.0 release of Ajax Chooser here. We’re still working on ironing out all the details, but this release has been tested with Firefox and Safari. You can find documentation in the Creative Commons Developer Wiki. If you have problems integrating the chooser, please let us know.

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CC Talks With: Cory Doctorow

Glenn Otis Brown, August 1st, 2005

I got to feeling like I was someone special — not everyone had a chum as exotic as Keep-A-Movin’ Dan, the legendary missionary who visited the only places left that were closed to the Bitchun Society. I can’t say for sure why he hung around with me. He mentioned once or twice that he’d liked my symphonies, and he’d read my Ergonomics thesis on applying theme-park crowd-control techniques in urban settings, and liked what I had to say there. But I think it came down to us having a good time needling each other.

I’d talk to him about the vast carpet of the future unrolling before us, of the certainty that we would encounter alien intelligences some day, of the unimaginable frontiers open to each of us. He’d tell me that deadheading was a strong indicator that one’s personal reservoir of introspection and creativity was dry; and that without struggle, there is no real victory. . . .

On a fine spring day, I defended my thesis to two embodied humans and one prof whose body was out for an overhaul, whose consciousness was present via speakerphone from the computer where it was resting. They all liked it. I collected my sheepskin and went out hunting for Dan in the sweet, flower-stinking streets.

He’d gone. The Anthro major he’d been torturing with his war-stories said that they’d wrapped up that morning, and he’d headed to the walled city of Tijuana, to take his shot with the descendants of a platoon of US Marines who’d settled there and cut themselves off from the Bitchun Society.

So I went to Disney World. . . .

–from Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, the first novel by blogger, cultural critic, and Electronic Frontier Foundation wonk Cory Doctorow, entered the world January 9, 2003. Wired‘s Mark Frauenfelder calls Down and Out “the most entertaining and exciting science fiction story I’ve read in the last few years,” and Bruce Sterling declares, “Science fiction needs Cory Doctorow!”

Doctorow has published Down and Out under a Creative Commons license.

Creative Commons: Your novel revolves around a power struggle over a Disney World of the distant future, and your promo materials describe you as a Disneyphile. What led you to set the story on Walt’s turf?

Cory Doctorow: I grew up with grandparents who lived in a gated retirement community in Fort Lauderdale. My folks — both teachers — and I stayed with them most Christmas breaks, and we’d always make a pilgrimage to Walt Disney World. Those WDW experiences permanently embedded the Disney Parks — their design, their cultural significance — in my psyche.

Disney’s a sterling example, moreover, of the value of the public domain. People who are naive about the idea of the commons frequently ask whether it’s too much to ask that artists make their own, original works. But Disney showed how plumbing the public domain for familiar stories (Alice, Snow White, Mu-lan, etc.) and reimagining them vividly can create new and culturally significant art.

Walt himself was full of grandiose, hubristic, science-fictional notions. The original plan for Walt Disney World called for a domed city (based loosely on the Progressland Walt built for General Electric at the 1964 World’s Fair) — the original EPCOT (Experiment Prototype City of Tomorrow), in which tens of thousands of employees would live under corporate law whose premises would follow Walt’s nutty and sometimes saccharine ideals for social Utopia.

He was part of a tradition of crypto-fascist Utopian American squillionaires that includes Henry Ford, who required the captive laborers of his doomed “Fordlandia” rubber-plantations-cum-communes to drink Tom Collinses (Ford’s favorite tipple) in favor of the traditional local hooch.

CC: Did legal concerns — say, over referring to Disney by name in the story — ever give you pause while writing or shopping the book?

CD: This is one of the most F of the FAQ about the book. The existence of the rides at Walt Disney World is a public fact — like the existence of the Empire State Building, the Grand Canyon, or the Starbucks on my corner. Copyright and trademark don’t exist to enjoin the public from discussing and speculating on the existence of actual, no-foolin’ things, so no, I wasn’t worried. The legal department at Tor Books (my publisher) put a disclaimer on the printed book that explained that all the places mentioned in the book are either fictional or used in a fictional context. Imagine someone dumb enough not to figure that out for himself. Duh.

CC: Down and Out‘s protagonist, Julius, has a soft spot for old-fashioned technology, like Disneyland’s various steel-and-concrete attractions and rides — “rube goldbergs,” as he memorably calls them. A central struggle in the book, in fact, involves Julius’s efforts to save the Park’s 20th-century “monuments” from being replaced by newfangled technological attractions. It’s a highly dramatic, even violent, struggle. Is there a little Luddite battling the technophile in you?

CD: There are at least two reasons that the fight to keep the highly individuated, hard-to-replicate rides is central to the book.

1. I genuinely dislike the articulated simulators (Star Tours, Body Wars) that Disney’s built. They strike me as really crummy art as compared to all the ride-tech that proceeded them. The problem with that kind of sim-ride is that they all have the same plot: we are going somewhere, we run into trouble, we turn around, we come home. The problem is that if we actually made it to our nominal destination, Disney’d have to build, e.g., a scale-model Forest Moon of Endor at the other end.

2. It’s a kind of parable about the inevitibility of crappy-but-more-democratic media (i.e., Gutenberg Bibles) over really excellent, but harder-to-reproduce artifacts (illuminated Bibles).

CC: Why did you choose to publish Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom under a Creative Commons license?

CD: That’s the most F of all the FAQs I get about this project. I’ve got a response that I agonized over for some while, and it’s as good as I’m going to get.

Why am I doing this thing? Well, it’s a long story, but to shorten it up: first-time novelists have a tough row to hoe. Our publishers don’t have a lot of promotional budget to throw at unknown factors like us. Mostly, we rise and fall based on word-of-mouth. I’m not bad at word-of-mouth. I have a blog, Boing Boing, where I do a lot of word-of-mouthing. I compulsively tell friends and strangers about things that I like.

And telling people about stuff I like is way, way easier if I can just send it to ’em. Way easier.

What’s more, P2P nets kick all kinds of ass. Most of the books, music and movies ever released are not available for sale anywhere in the world. In the brief time that P2P nets have flourished, the ad-hoc masses of the Internet have managed to put just about *everything* online. What’s more, they’ve done it for cheaper than any other archiving/revival effort ever. I’m a stone infovore and this kinda Internet mishegas gives me a serious frisson of futurosity.

Yeah, there are legal problems. Yeah, it’s hard to figure out how people are gonna make money doing it. Yeah, there is a lot of social upheaval and a serious threat to innovation, freedom, business, and whatnot. It’s your basic end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenario, and as a science fiction writer, end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it scenaria are my stock-in-trade.

I’m especially grateful to my publisher, Tor Books and my editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden for being hep enough to let me try out this experiment.

All that said, here’s the deal: I’m releasing this book under a license developed by the Creative Commons project. This is a project that lets people like me roll our own license agreements for the distribution of our creative work under terms similar to those employed by the Free/Open Source Software movement. It’s a great project, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

CC: How did Tor Books respond to your decision to use one of our licenses?

CD: Tor is the largest English-language science fiction publisher in the world, and they’ve led the field in innovative practices, especially in ebooks. So I’m privileged to have a very forward-looking, progressive publisher behind me. What’s more, I have a fantastic editor, Patrick Nielsen Hayden. Patrick is an old Usenet hand (search on groups.google.com to get an idea of how much of Patrick’s life has been spent on Usenet!), a Linux hobbyist, a blogger, and a hell of an all-round technophile. When I pitched the idea of posting the book online to him, we had a surprisingly brief and excited conversation of how goddamned cool it would be. I’m guessing that Patrick had to do some internal selling at Tor to convince the publisher, Tom Dougherty, that this would be a good idea, but I wasn’t privy to that negotiation.

CC: Your job is to think about the future. Where do you think copyright law is headed? What do you think the law as regards to information will look like 100 years from now? What is copyright’s place in the Magic Kingdom and the Bitchun Society — a world that seems to revolve around pop culture and technology?

CD: Well, in some ways, this novel is a parable about Napster, and about the reputation economies that projects like Ringo, Firefly, Epinions and Amazon hint at. In a world where information is nonscarce, the problem isn’t finding generic information — it’s finding useful information. There’s an old chestnut in online science fiction fandom that the Internet “makes us all into slushreaders.” (“Slush” is the unsolicited prose that arrives at publishers’ offices — a “slushreader” wades through thousands of these paste-gems looking for the genuine article). This has always struck me as a pretty reactionary position.

Nearly every piece of information online has a human progenitor — a person who thought it was useful or important or interesting enough to post. Those people have friends whom they trust, and those friends have trusted friends, and so on. Theoretically, if you use your social network to explore the Web, you can make educated guesses about the relative interestingness of every bit of info online to you. In practice, this kind of social exploration is very labor-intensive and even computationally intensive, but there’s a lot of technology on the horizon that hints at this.

The Bitchun Society of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is a world where all goods are as nonscarce as information is on the net. (It’s imaginable that nanofabrication could make such a world possible — “goods” and “information” would be different states of the same thing, as “source code” and “applications” are today.) In that world, managing the glut of everything — especially people — is a matter of exploring social networks to guess at the degree to which you should treat some resource with respect and attention. [In the story,] I call this measure “Whuffie.”

Scarcity is, objectively, worse than plenty. When you’ve got lots of some useful object, you’re richer than when you have less of it. When there’s more than enough to go around, the economic value tends to plummet, but the utility is just as high. Think of oxygen: on the Earth’s surface, we’re well-supplied with breathable atmosphere. Aside from a few egregiously West-coast “oxygen bars,” it’s hard to imagine paying money for O2. But in Heinlein’s sf novels set on the moon, there’s a thriving trade in oxygen. In both situations, air is highly useful, but dirtsiders are richer in air than their loonie cousins.

It’s a quirk of our economy — and a failure of our collective imagination — that we view the de-scarce-ification of information as a disaster. Our technological history — literacy, the press, telegraphy, radio, TV, xerography, computers — is a steady march towards making information more liquid and less scarce. Towards richness.

At each turn, the mounting plenty has made the information industries larger and larger, employing more people, feeding more artists, bringing more ideas to more people.

I’ve got a large, personal stake in earning a living from my writing, but as I look around at a field in which the word-rates for fiction have stalled at their 1935 levels (not adjusted for inflation), I find it hard to imagine that the old economics of publishing will sustain me in the manner to which I’d like to become accustomed. There’s a new world a-borning, a world of information in infinite plenty, and I know that there are new opportunities out there. I don’t know what they are, but I’m certain that diving in with both feet first is a better way of discovering them than screaming imprecations at the rising tide and chicken-littling about the “thieves” and “pirates” of the Internet. I prefer to think of them as “readers.”

CC: Who and what — writers, artists, trends — have been particularly strong influences on your writing?

CD: Well, anyone familiar with science fiction who reads this book will discover that I’ve blatantly ripped off the best ideas of Heinlein and Varley. (Varley ripped off a lot of his ideas from Heinlein, of course — “amateurs plagiarize, artists steal.”)

More than that, I got a lot of my ideas from Walt Disney, Marc Davis, and the other original Imagineers who designed Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Walt was a weird and sometimes rather nasty old coot. (And Tolstoy ripped off his family to feed his gambling habit — being a great artist is not inconsitent with being a evil jerk.) But he (Walt) was also a magnificent entrepreneur, inventor, dreamer, and technophile. He and his crew broke a lot of rules to build Disneyland. He fired the engineers he’d hired to make Disneyland a reality and poached away his best animators from the Studios to make the Park a reality. (The engineers would only tell him what he couldn’t do, not what he could). They built some exceedingly cool art. They invented an entire genre. They bucked the bean-counters at The Disney Company who told them it wouldn’t ever work.

CC: What effects do you think communications technology — from instant messaging to weblogs to hypertext — have had and will have on the English language? On literature?

CD: As I said upstream, the trend in communications since the dawn of history has been increasing fluidity for information, increasing democratization. We’re in a giant, never-ending permanent Protestant Reformation. Whenever we — as a culture — have had a choice between some medium that makes interesting artifacts and another medium that makes less interesting artifacts that are more fluid, we’ve chosen the louche and lowbrow over the pretty and scarce. Illuminated Bibles begat Gutenberg Bibles begat cheap, mass produced Bibles begat Project Gutenberg Bibles.

You often hear people decrying reading off a screen. They say that the text isn’t sharp enough, the artifacts less sentimental than paper volumes, the infrastructure (computers and Internet connections) too complex and expensive. These detractors conveniently ignore the fact that literate people, by and large, spend six or more hours reading text off a screen. They remind me of the music-industry execs that spent the early days of the file-sharing revolution who dismissed MP3 as not being good-sounding-enough and too lacking in liner notes to be an effective replacement for CDs. They sound like Gutenberg-era priests pooh-poohing Mr. Gutenberg’s cheap and nasty Bibles: “How can the Word of God possibly be represented in one of those tetchy books? Proper Bibles are hand-painted on foetal lambskin by Trappist Monks who devote their lives to illuminating the Precious Word.”

CC: You help run Boing Boing, a leading tech-and-culture weblog. Has your experience as a blog publisher affected your writing?

CD: In truth, it’s spoiled me. With a blog, it goes like this: I get an idea, write about the idea, post it, and five minutes later, get some feedback. With fiction, it’s this: I have an idea, write about the idea, send it to a publisher, argue about the idea, rewrite the idea, argue some more, wait a couple years, argue some more, do another rewrite, wait a couple years, and then, some day, a physical dead-tree book arrives. I’m not a patient person, and the wait just kills me.

CC: How has your work at the Electronic Frontier Foundation influenced your work?

CD: I wrote Down and Out before I came to work at the EFF, along with my second novel (which Tor will publish next fall), Eastern Standard Tribe. But now I’m working on a new novel, whose (admittedly sucky) working title is “/usr/bin/god.” It’s about Singularity mysticism and nerd culture, which is full of issues from my work with the EFF. It’s a sort of expansion of “0wnz0red,” a parable about “Trusted Computing” that I wrote and which Salon published last August.

CC: In Magic Kingdom, technology has made it possible for people to live forever. Several characters “die” repeatedly, only to be re-booted from back-up memory, like machines. Did the instant-resurrection prevalent in computer and video games influence this aspect of the story? If not, what led you to it?

CD: Actually, it was more about backup-and-restore. I started out as a sysadmin, and I was just as paranoid about the data of my users as I was about my own. I’ve managed to preserve just about all my mail, all my writing, just about everything that I’ve ever created with a computer since I got my first Apple ][+ in the summer of 1979. I back up all that data to an off-site storage every day, and back up my important stuff — like fiction and financials — to a remote server 3000 miles away (just in case) in a big, encrypted blob, once a month. All this gives me a nice, warm feeling — especially when a machine is stolen, smashed, flooded, or HERFed and I do that wondrous restore and get all my data back.

CC: It sounds as if there’s almost an element of salvation in the literal saving. . . .

CD: I guess. I think it’s more about the end of infocalyptic events like the burning of Alexandria. I just finished Bruce Sterling’s brilliant new book of futurism, “Tomorrow Now,” which is mind-blowing and provocative as hell. I think the world of Sterling, but I also disagree with a number of his theses about infotech. In TN, he does this dead media schtick about all the info that’s been lost along with the platforms that supported it. As I read it, I itched to give Bruce a tutorial on the frankly amazing work that’s been done on emulators. A little-appreciated consequence of Moore’s Law is the fact that a modern computer has enough power to handily simulate several deprecated machines from bygone days — simultaneously. Practically, that means that I can trivially fire up the Logo programs I wrote when I was nine, even though — because! — I’m using a computer that makes my ][+ look like a flint arrowhead. Every computer I’ve bought since the advent of harddrives has had more storage than all the computers I owned before, put together. When I look at the incredible new archiving projects being built on commodity hardware — like archive.org — I can’t help but conclude that the days of information perishing are gone forever.

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CC Talks With: Dan Gillmor

Glenn Otis Brown, August 1st, 2005

You may have read this Featured Commoner’s technology columns in the San Jose Mercury Sun News or on Sillicon Valley.com. Dan Gillmor has been writing about technology, business, and policy for as long as such a beat has existed. His new book, We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People, tells the shift of how grassroots journalism will dethrone the Big Media monopoly on news. The book is licensed under a Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial, share-alike license. The book is now in stores and available for download.

Creative Commons: There’s a nice quote early in your book that sums up much of your argument. “The news is what we make of it, in more ways than one.” Could you expand on that?

Dan Gillmor: There are various ways to “make the news,” but they’re starting to blend. In the traditional sense it works this way: You can make news by doing something extraordinary (or ordinary, if you’re a celebrity or politician), or by doing something evil or especially good. PR and marketing people help. We in the journalism business make the news every day, every hour, by reporting what we learn; newspapers are, in part, a manufacturing business. And “consumers” of news can make their own news reports by sifting through the growing variety of information now available to them.

Now, all of those news constituencies are starting to bleed into each other. The former audience is joining the journalism process, as is the Newsmaker who talks over our heads to the audience more directly via blogs and other new tools. The journalist has to pay much closer attention to it all, and must listen as much as lecture.

featured Dan Gillmor work
We The Media
Share Alike 2.0

CC: Your arguments about democratized media pivot on the role of technology, particularly the Internet and blogs. Given this, did you ever have second thoughts about making your argument in traditional book form? Are you or O’Reilly taking steps to make your book “Read-Write” as well?

DG: No second thoughts whatsoever. I love books, which have always been a crucial part of my life since I learned to read. I love the way they feel in my hands, and the places they take me. I hope this particular book will have some shelf life even though the topic is contemporary; and we’ll probably do another edition.

The read-write portion will be in the Safari part of O’Reilly’s business, where people can buy individual chapters and accompanying material. From a non-commercial point of view, moreover, I can’t wait to see the remixes that other people do online.

CC: Why did you decide to license We the Media under a Creative Commons license?

DG: It was an opportunity to live up to the things I’ve been preaching. Creative Commons is offering one of the only alternatives to the stifling and, I believe, dangerous ways of the copyright cartel that is trying to lock everything down.

CC: What was it like to get O’Reilly Media to agree to release the book under the license?

DG: There was not only no resistance, but Tim and his team were delighted to do it. You should ask them why.

CC: What do you expect will happen as a result that wouldn’t have under a traditional “all rights reserved” release?

DG: As noted, I’m looking forward to seeing things that surprise me. I do hope folks will put in the hyperlinks, something I don’t have time to do. And Niall Kennedy has posted an audio of the introduction; perhaps other folks will make audios of other chapters.

CC: Given the new publishing landscape, what advice would you give an aspiring journalist?

DG: This is a tough question, because the business is changing so quickly. I would encourage anyone who wants to be a journalist to be fluent with technology, of course. More importantly, I’d urge him or her to have an insatiable curiosity, an eagerness to listen, a powerful sense of fairness and honor, and a passion for helping people understand the world around them.

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Best CC animation ever fansubbed

Mike Linksvayer, August 1st, 2005

The ‘best Creative Commons animation ever’ has been fansubbed.

The original came with a CC license that allows derivative works, but also provided the script and source files. The fansubbers have provided French and English subtitle files. All together a great example of using licensing plus component materials to encourage reuse.

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Best of sta(cc)ato

Mike Linksvayer, August 1st, 2005

Staccato, a music program featuring all Creative Commons licensed tracks, launched late last year and has featured some great interviews and lots of great music.

Last week saw the release of Staccato #21, a “best of” program also featuring an extended interview with Creative Commons chair Lawrence Lessig.

Listen now.

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Everybody loves Creative Commons

Mike Linksvayer, July 27th, 2005

Creative Commons made an appearance of sorts in the free software in-joke comic Everybody loves Eric Raymond.

As it happens the strip is CC-licensed. That makes at least two.

Thanks to Will for the pointer.

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Creative Fiction, or CC SF

Will Frank, July 27th, 2005

With all of the public debate about the role of innovation in music and movies, it’s not surprising that discussion of the uses of Creative Commons licenses tends to be about their place in the music and movie industries. When there is discussion about text and books, it tends to be about academic works, like Professor Lessig’s book Free Culture or the Public Library of Science, and even then it’s discussed much less. Fiction books, such as the science fiction and fantasy (from now on abbreviated as SF, and please don’t start with me about that) that occupies most of my spare time, seem to glide almost completely under the radar.

Part of the reason no one worries about books is that there isn’t a BPAA, and the print publishing industry is much less deserving of vitriol than the music publishers; part of it is that authors have or at least appear to have much more creative control than the musical artists who tend to take point on the screaming about infringement; but most of it is that reading real books is satisfying in a way that reading PDFs or HTML on a screen, or a Palm, or even a bunch of laser-printed pages completely fails to be.

However, there are a few enterprising SF authors who have, in addition to publishing their books through traditional methods, released Creative Commons-licensed copies of their work. As I’m the local SF nut, I was asked by the bosses to give a basic rundown of what’s out there. I was also told very firmly not to get into reviews, merely survey the field; I don’t do too well with limits, and there’s only so much hard drive space…

Anyway. The first name in Creative Commons-licensed SF is the one and only Cory Doctorow. If you’ve made it all the way here without encountering that name, then I have to wonder where you’ve been looking. Cory has three full novels, Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom, Eastern Standard Tribe, and Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town, all
of which have been CC-licensed. He also has any number of shorter stories (such as his ongoing “Deconstructing SF” series), many of which are, again, licensed. Cory is probably the most vocal supporter of the Creative Commons in the fiction world, so if you’re looking for some SF and you want to be CC-conscious, there are no better places to start. His work tends to be near-future nanopunk, but it’s solid nanopunk; if you’ve never read in the genre, it’s not a bad introduction to the genre, and if you have, and didn’t like it, this may be a better example. If you don’t like this either, then nanopunk probably isn’t for you.

Next up is Charles Stross, an occasional collaborator with Cory, who released his most recent novel Accelerando under a CC license just a few weeks ago, and who has some older works licensed as well. Like Cory, Charlie–ah, the wondrous informality of the Internet; if ever I met them in person they’d be “Mr. Doctorow” and “Mr. Stross,” is that just me?–deals in near-future nanopunk (actually, Accelerando starts at near-future and just goes further thataway), and he has made a big splash with this novel. He certainly has one fan in high places.

Now we’re leaving the safe areas of books I’ve read or at least skimmed. There are two other authors whose CC-licensed work has been brought to the attention of us here at CC-HQ. First is Peter Watts, who has released his first two novels Starfish and Maelstrom under CC licenses, plans to do the same for the third novel in the trilogy, Behemoth (sorry, Peter–there it is again–but I’m not putting in the Beta), and has a handful of earlier stories available as well. By all lights Peter’s area is not nanopunk; he seems to be closer to biopunk. Topics in his “Rifters Trilogy” include evolutionary biology, marine mammalia, sexual sadism, and dystopian futures. Lest you think I’m kidding, I took all of this from his website. Like I said I haven’t had the chance to sit down and read his work yet. But I’m certainly looking forward to the change of pace. Then again, I do remember that Neal Stephenson wrote Zodiac: An Eco-Thriller before he became the second darling of the cyberpunks, so you never know…

The last author that’s on our list of known CC-licensed SF is Kelly Link, who released her short story collection Stranger Things Happen at the beginning of this month. While I haven’t yet read the collection, I’ve been reading up on it and her and, again, I’m looking forward to my next chance to sit down and really tear into the material. It’s a little more fantastical than some of the other work (apparently she’s been compared to Neil Gaiman, a comparison no one can win but the ultimate case of praising with faint damnation), not that I’m complaining mind you, so it would probably make a good chaser for some of the harder nanopunk.

That’s all that we know of so far. A list in progress can be found at http://wiki.creativecommons.org/wiki/Books#Fiction, so if you know of more CC-licensed SF books or fiction in general feel free to add it.

I should mention, before I sign off, that we do know there are some other free but not CC-licensed SF sources out there. Baen Books has been keeping its Baen Free Library since before Creative Commons was founded, and Neal Stephenson has put up a copy of In The Beginning Was The Command Line at Cryptonomicon.com. Allies in spirit, I hope.


Free Beer

Dana Powers, July 22nd, 2005

Sometimes we get thirsty here at CC-HQ, and so sometimes we head up to the
coffee machine and press the button for coffee. Or sometimes we make espresso
and dump the left over grounds down the drain until the drainage pipe clogs
and our downstairs neighbors get a wonderful espresso-ground shower. And then
sometimes we decide to brew beer. Good ole’ CC licensed beer. Beer that might
be terrible, but that we really hope isn’t. And then sometimes we blog about

So we the interns of CC decided to take a shot at brewing the infamous CC-beer. The recipe
was first published by some students in Denmark under an Attribution-ShareAlike
license – perhaps as a joke in reference to the free software movement’s
mantra, “free as in speech, not as in beer.” We think that’s funny, but we also
think beer tastes good. So we took the recipe down to the local homebrew
store, SF Brewcraft, and consulted
with the masters: Griz and Rev.
Because we’re first time brewers, they suggested we modify the recipe slightly
to make it easier on our inner newbishness. The Danes, apparently, are quite
advanced in their beer-making-methodologies. We’re sad to say that we had to
ditch the guarana beans, though. It was partly because we couldn’t find any,
partly because we really had no idea how to work them into the modified recipe,
and partly because Griz kept looking at us funny and talking about monkeys and
footballs. So this is the
recipe we ended up using
, CC-licensed of course. When we manage to decipher
exactly what the recipe actually says, we’ll post that online as well.

Anyways, we bought a basic homebrew kit and enough ingredients for our
first batch: grains, hops, some malt extract, a bit of yeast, and a dash of
sugar, and then we began our foray into fermentation. Altogether, the recipe
should make about 5 gallons of homebrewed beer gloriousness and will take around
one month start to finish. Right now, our brew is fermenting in Free Culture Fred’s

laundry room to give it that “so fresh and so clean” feel. After another week
or so it’ll be ready to bottle – although sadly it will still have to sit
for a few weeks more before it is ready to drink. We’re also working on some
nice CC beer labels, maybe even some CC bottle caps, but we’ll blog more about
that later. Until then, we thought you might find our flickr stream
entertaining. Mmmm, beer.

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