Commons Jamming across the net

Mike Linksvayer, July 22nd, 2005

NINJAM is a free software product that lets you jam (make music) with other NINJAM users across the net. It’s weirder and cooler than just that. All tracks, remote and local, can be saved individually for offline remixing, and all NINJAMmers agree to use a Creative Commons license in order to participate. The weirder part … you’ll have to try for yourself.

Check out a directory of jams created by NINJAM users, all CC licensed of course.

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Belgrade Gallery

Mike Linksvayer, July 20th, 2005

Free computer art software visual artist activist programmer (mix and match, also CC mailing list discussant) Rob Myers has a lecture (July 29) and exhibition (running July 27 – August 8) at o3one gallery in Belgrade, Serbia, supported by the British Council.

From 1969 by Rob Myers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Addendum: Pictures of the show.


Lisa DeBenedictis Remix Contest

Neeru Paharia, July 15th, 2005

The Magnatune Lisa DeBenedictis Remix Contest on ccMixter is soon coming to a close. The deadline for entries is July 31st. Send your remixes in soon!

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PBS to release NerdTV under a Creative Commons License

Raul, July 14th, 2005

I’m always amazed at how far the power of invention mixed with a determination to realize your idea on a large scale can take you. That’s why the new PBS one hour television series about the people who are shaping technology and the Silicon Valley landscape seems so interesting. PBS will be launching NerdTV, the first downloadable, web-exclusive series, beginning Sept. 6th. You can check it out here. NerdTV viewers are encouraged to download and copy the shows, share them with friends and even post them on their own Web sites – all legally.

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CC Licensing for WordPress: Now with AJAX

Nathan Yergler, July 12th, 2005

wpLicense 0.5 is out. wpLicense is a project I whipped up a while back to experiment with the Creative Commons web services and AJAX. I also needed CC licensing for WordPress and wasn’t satisfied with the existing solutions. This is the third release I’ve made, and the first I actually think should be usable by the world at large.

The relatively large increase in version number (up 3/10ths as opposed to my usual 1/10th of a version) reflects the large number of changes as well as the amount of testing that went into this version.

In the bug-fix category:

  • Unbeknownst to me, my web host uses PHP 5 by default, so I happily used PHP 5-specific features such as SimpleXML without knowing it. Unfortunately, lots of people still use PHP 4, so some refactoring was in order. This release supports PHP 4 (> 4.3 for sure, possibly older although I won’t guarantee it).
  • I had also used libcurl in the previous version, which while it existed in PHP 4 wasn’t always turned on. We’re using a little more braindead way of calling the webservice now that should work with non-libcurl-enabled installations of PHP.
  • Finally, we fixed a rather annoying bug that caused the generic jurisdiction Attribution licenses to be issued as 2.0, even though 2.5 is the current version. Feh.

This release also adds a new configuration option: “Include license badge in default footer”. The new "Include license badge" option in wpLicense.If you use the default WordPress theme (or probably 90% of the other themes out there that call wpfooter(); ), checking this saves you the hassle of manually editting your template. The template functions are still available for manipulating and displaying the license information in other ways, this just seemed like a logical addition to make life easier.

All this combined with some (but not lots, mind you) UI-lovin’ means that anyone using an old version (yes, both of you) should go ahead and upgrade. Go on, check it out.

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Announcing the new CC Store and Donation page

Matt Haughey, July 12th, 2005

We’re happy to announce that we have revamped our online store and donations page to highlight new t-shirts and products available with a Creative Commons logo. We’ve got new Science Commons shirts, a new shirt for 2005 donations, and a variety of products from Cafepress as well.

All proceeds aid our non-profit and help us maintain our charitable non-profit status. If you’d like to show your support for the Creative Commons, the best way is to become a Commoner today. We offer several different gift packages in exchange for your tax-deductible donations.

One of our new interns Fred cooked up a pretty cool flash movie for the announcement.

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Don’t Let the Build Bugs bite!

Nathan Yergler, July 12th, 2005

Every now and then you realize that something stupid has gotten in the way of perfectly good software, and as a result made things difficult for users. Today I ran into two of those situations with CC software.

First, the installation packages for ccPublisher for Windows were corrupted on the server. The result is that when you tried to install, Windows complains that the file “is not a valid installer.” Luckily that was an easy problem to fix. I’ve updated the file on the server, so if you’ve tried to install ccPublisher for Windows recently, try again. You can download the installer here.

Around the same time people were reporting problems with ccPublisher for Windows, others were reporting problems with ccLookup for Mac OS X. In particular, using ccLookup under Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. So there’s a new build available here. ccLookup 1.1 fixes problems with the application under Tiger, and also supports OS X 10.3 (Panther). Note that OS X 10.2 is not supported. Finally, make sure you copy the application off the disk image before attempting to run the application.

Thanks again to all our users and everyone who reported these problems. If you run into other problems, feel free to email our software support email address:

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(cc) Publish & be Damned!!

Mia Garlick, July 6th, 2005

For all aspiring authors out there, a new self-publishing service ‘Publish & be Damned’ now includes the option for authors to publish their books under a Creative Commons license. At the site, writers can design, publish and sell their own hard copy books – either at their own personal selling page on the site or through more traditional book trade arrangements with wholesale distributors and Amazon. The online ‘Publish & be Damned’ bookstore is currently featuring the author James Morris and his new book ‘The Escapist’ – which has been published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license. Adapt away!!

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Make a monkey movie

Mike Linksvayer, July 5th, 2005

Free software hacker and entrepreneur Nat Friedman staged a reenactment of the famous Scopes “Monkey” Trial and published the script under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.

Stage your own reenactment/BBQ, make it into a film, make a cartoon based on the script with Darrow and Bryan as monkeys debating whether it is ok to teach that monkeys descended from mostly hairless apes…

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CC Talks With: Doc Searls

Lisa Rein, July 1st, 2005

Speaker, blogger, writer, and former radio personality, Doc Searls is the Senior Editor of Linux Journal, co-founder of GeekPAC and the American Open Technology Consortium, and a leading blogger.

Widely recognized as an authority on technology and marketing, Doc is co-author of the #1 sales and marketing bestseller The Cluetrain Manifesto, which will be released under a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication.

Creative Commons: So let’s talk licensing…

Doc Searls: Journalism has an old acronym: MEGO, for “my eyes glaze over.” A mego is any story that’s too important not to run and too dull to interest all but a few. Licensing is one of those topics for me. I glaze at the thought of it — which is an occupational problem, because licensing is a big deal in the Linux community, where I work.

I’m always amazed at how much energy gets spent by Linux weenies talking about licensing, while most people in the business world really doesn’t give a damn. Hey, that’s why they have legal departments.

CC: What do you think might help people to better understand the licensing process?

DS: I think we need to develop a new vernacular understanding of what licensing is. . . . I mean there have always been tacit agreements about what we can and can’t do with stuff — agreements we’ve understood intuitively. Now we need to be much more explicit, because the range of actions that can be taken with our public works is not only much larger, but often committed in digital form, which allows us to be much more specific about the agreements involved.

Anyway, it’s still a boring subject to me, but at least I know why it’s important.

CC: How do you think Creative Commons licenses might help?

DS: I believe there is a crying need for a public conversation about the licensing of artistic works, and for our vocabulary to have the richest and most specific possible bases. That’s why the work Creative Commons does is so important and welcome by attempting to scaffold a new set of commons-native relationships between creators and customers.

CC: And you feel these “commons-native” relationships are fundamental to cyberspace?

DS: Yes. The Net isn’t a distribution pipe; it’s a place. We conceive the Net as a place. Craig Burton calls this place “a new world, built like a sphere comprised of nothing but ends.” Think about “end to end” architecture for a moment. The best way to conceive it, Craig says, is as a hollow sphere. Across the nothingness in the middle we are all zero distance from each other. Each of us is an end. No intermediaries required.

As Monty of Ogg Vorbis put it to me in an Austin bar last spring, “There’s a reason we call it ‘cyberspace, not ‘cyberpipes’.” We go on the Net, not through it.

CC: Who do you think is treating it like a mere distribution pipe?

DS: Well, as we pointed out in Cluetrain, business is thick with the language of shipping. We have something we call “content” that we “load” into a “channel” and “address” for “delivery” to a “consumer” or an “end user.” Even a category as human-oriented as customer support talks about “delivering” services…

That said, the businesses that are most afflicted with pipe-mindedness are the ones that are quickest to call everything “content.” It’s amazing to me that I used to be a writer, and now I’m a “content provider.” Entertainment and publishing are the biggest offenders here, at least in the sense that they see the Net entirely as a plumbing system. The whole notion of a “commons” is anathema to the plumbing construct.

This was the problem with all these dot-com acronyms with a 2 in the middle — B2B, B2C and so on. “To” was the wrong preposition. As Christine Boehlke put it to me once, the correct middle letter should have been W, because in a real marketplace we do business with people not to them. Does anybody ever shake hands and say “Nice doing business to you!”? Because the Net is more fundamentally a place than a pipe, we do business with each other there, not just to each other. Critical difference.

CC: And this can bring about new kinds of relationships between creators and customers?

DS: This demands new kinds of relationships between everybody, and not just the entities we call creators and customers. The relationships don’t need to be personal; they just need to respect the immediacy of everybody involved. That immediacy is what’s native to the Net. It isn’t native to the physical world — except, perhaps, in an old-fashioned bazaar-type marketplace.

So whatever kinds of relationships we have, they’ll be more immediate and direct.

CC: Who has taken Cluetrain to heart thus far?

DS: I know some pretty big companies that have changed their relationships with suppliers and customers radically to take advantage of the Net. These were the guys we heard from right after Cluetrain came out. Companies like GE, Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart, Prudential and Nortel Networks. They may not be reacting perfectly, but they are far more realistic and adaptive than the entertainment and broadcast industries. They have long been vested in the industrial mass marketing model, which they have made sure also relies on political and regulatory protection.

CC: In Chapter 4 of Cluetrain, you describe how the Industrial Age served to transform customers into consumers. Is it your opinion that the Internet can be used as a tool to reverse this trend? Or at least go in a more progressive direction?

DS: Yes. The Net undermines the idea that customers are nothing more than consumers with names. Jerry Michalski calls consumers “gullets who live only to gulp products and crap cash.” They are the aphids of the industrial age. They exist only in mass form and they are specific to the conditions of the industries we call mass media, mass marketing, mass distribution, and mass retailing.

These industries don’t need to go away, but they do need to face the facts about the new conditions the Net has introduced to the world.

It’s important to note that these industries distinguish between customers and consumers in ways that are not obvious, even to them. But those distinctions are critically important to understanding why change is so hard.

CC: What are some specific examples of progressive transformation of some key industries that are starting to “get it.”

DS: In commercial broadcasting, for example, customers and consumers are totally different populations. You and I pay nothing for what we hear on our car radios. We’re just consumers. The customers of the stations we hear are the advertisers who buy time.

The same goes for commercial television. Consumers of commercial TV have no economic relationship whatsoever with their local NBC station, with the network, or with the producers of shows. All the “content” is just bait. Chum on the waters. The commercial broadcasting marketplace is a conversation that exists entirely between the media, advertisers and intermediaries such as advertising agencies.

CC: So whether customer or consumer, they’re not involved in the process?

DS: Exactly. The consumers have zero influence, basically, on commercial television because they pay nothing, and don’t have any kind of direct feedback mechanism. And if we put that mechanism in place (as the Net and TiVo threaten to do), guess what happens? The colossal inefficiencies of advertising get exposed. A $100 billion business worldwide is suddenly at risk.

There is negative demand for most TV and radio advertising. It subtracts value for listeners and viewers. That’s why TiVo viewers skip over the ads. TiVo isn’t exactly Net-native, but it could easily be. And eventually, it will be, if its backers let it survive.

CC: And you think that this has alienated broadcasters from their customer/consumer audiences?

DS: Yes. This split between consumers and customers has given broadcasters not only zero feel for its ultimate marketplace — one where its consumers become customers — but zero appetite for it as well. And there is a similar lack of appetite in the entertainment industry, which has used its vast distribution system to distance itself from its ultimate markets, which will live in the commons.

CC: You wrote about how you see free music downloads as good marketing.

DS: Markets are conversations. People will buy, and will support, the stuff they care about. The next step after “markets are conversations” is “markets are relationships.” Creative Commons helps us get to that better than any other effort I know.

CC: So you’re using a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication for “Cluetrain Manifesto”?

DS: We basically open-sourced the book. Chris Locke hacked the HTML and put it up on his Gonzo Marketing site. Frankly, we did it without thinking specifically about licensing terms — which we might have done if Creative Commons had already been around!

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