Weblog

2008 September

ccLearn’s COSL Open Ed ’08 download

Jane Park, September 30th, 2008

Although we’ve already had a weekend plus a Monday to digest COSL’s Open Ed ’08, the events from the conference and general good feeling inspired by speakers and individual conversations still drives us forward into the week and the beginning of next month. This year’s conference featured several notable speakers; the keynotes themselves were given by WikiEducator‘s Wayne Mackintosh, Magnatune‘s Teresa Malango, and MITE’s (Monterey Institute for Technology and Education) Gary Lopez . Personally, I attended all three keynotes plus a few other sessions from which I extracted some thought-provoking facts and ideas.

WikiEducator, Commonwealth of Learning: Wayne broke the news that WikiEducator will be moving to the awe-inspiring Dunedin, New Zealand, home to not only breathtaking landscapes but also Otago Polytechnic, the first ever university to have a default CC BY licensing policy. See my interview with Leigh Blackall in April. He also shed light on why many educators use WikiEducator. Surprisingly (or not, depending on your presumptions), the number one reason people go to the site is “to explore new ideas and trends”. I found this encouraging; educators are seeking to innovate, to learn in order to innovate. Case in point: the second reason was “to learn wiki skills”. Now we’ve just got to help them do it. Wayne also mentioned catering to different knowledge levels when it came to open source and sharing. He described what he called “capability phases”. The phases go something like this: personal teaching resources → WikiEducator featured resource → WikiEducator featured collaboration → peer-reviewed resource. Teachers begin by sharing their personal educational resources developed primarily for their own classroom; then they realize they can create resources on WikiEducator; furthermore, in collaboration with other educators!; finally, they ensure quality by reviewing each other’s work and constantly making changes to better place the work in context.

Magnatune – a history: Teresa’s presentation provided an outside viewpoint regarding possible business and sustainability models for openly licensed resources. She described how Magnatune was founded with a few core principles around which the business models had to be developed. The principles included respect and fair compensation for the artists, engagement with the consumers, and transparency in all that they do. Much of the conference focused on issues of sustainability and mechanisms for leveraging the value of OER, so her presentation served as a useful lesson regarding such issues from a different domain. Many of the key tools and technologies developed by Creative Commons, such as the CC Plus protocol, are core elements of the Magnatune site. What possibilties lie ahead for OER?

MITE on How to Build a Financially Self-sustaining OER: Practical Considerations: Gary launched an interesting study of how OER could financially sustain itself, based on MITE’s own policy regarding individuals and institutions. Basically, the premise is that individuals shouldn’t have to pay, but someone’s got to―that leaves institutions who are usually more than happy to pay for a service that would be free for their members. The value I took away from this was this off-shoot idea; that in the age of the internet, we are now living in a service-economy where content is free (either legally or illegally on the internet), but the services required to aggregate, make cohesive, and analyze that content is still needed. In the words of David Wiley, “If my students can Google it, I don’t need to teach it.” Open education is not just about freeing up content; it’s about making that content accessible in ways that are smart, novel, and interesting.

Financial sustainability is still an issue, but if we go back to Wayne’s presentation: what about commercial activities that would support OER? There are distribution channels; for example, we’ve already got sites like Lulu.com, and Flat World Knowledge is another big open textbook initiative set to launch next year. We’ve also got to think about incentive systems to get educators, researchers, and commercially employed persons to contribute beyond their full-time jobs. And finally, the most important statement that, I think, reiterates David’s sentiment: in the development of OER, quality is more about the process than it is about the product. Quality is a very different thing in one country’s context than it is in the next. But the process of producing OER, of gaining those critical thinking and analytic skills (remember why some of us went to college?) yields a quality process that can be integrated universally.

Demos: I was busy demo-ing ODEPO while Nathan was just as busy demo-ing the Universal Education Search, but I did get to check out one other tool―the University of Michigan’s dScribe. This technology was definitely built around the idea of sustainability. The basic question as I saw it: How do you make the materials (slides, handouts, images, video, etc.) that an educator uses in the classroom legal so that it can be shared online as OER? Further, how do you do so without draining the school of huge amounts of dollars and other resources? Answer: You build a tool that trains and allows students to gauge and evaluate the course materials for copyright information, and then to search for creative replacements (licensed under a CC or other open license) for those materials that are fully restricted. Ingenious! Props to the U of Michigan; we look forward to seeing progress on this initiative.

Various other sessions I attended were equally inspiring, but the basic sentiment I gathered from everyone was that this year’s conference marked great progress in all the projects initiated the year previous. ccLearn is excited about its own projects and looking forward to more dizzying collaboration within the Open Ed community.

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SomeRightsReserved, CC Licensed Design

Cameron Parkins, September 29th, 2008

SomeRightsReserved is a download-only design firm that produces “blueprints to a range of different products and objects”, connecting “designer straight to consumer, empowering all parties.” SRR uses different CC licences on different products, enabling customers to take the ideas therein and use them in a variety of different ways. From SSR:

Imagine being able to buy the digital blueprints to any object, being able to take it to a skilled professional and have it produced directly. Imagine instant access to quality design ideas and the means to manufacture products on demand. Imagine completely removing the middleman.

Some Rights Reserved lets designers get ideas out directly to the public, on their terms. Designers have greater creative freedom, flexibility, spontaneity, and control over licensing. Consumers are given the chance to purchase design instantly, either printing it out on their own printer or taking the file to a listed supplier for production.

SSR has some absolutely amazing projects, some for sale and some for free – be sure to explore what they have available.

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CC Talks With: Brad Sucks

Cameron Parkins, September 29th, 2008

Brad Sucks, a CC license using pop/rock musician, recently released his latest album Out Of It for free online and under a CC BY-SA license. Brad is one of the most remixed artists over at ccMixter, runs an active blog, interacts with fans directly, and was recently interview by the Featured Commoners behind The Indie Band Survival Guide. Needless to say we needed to catch up with Brad and ask some questions of our own – read on to learn about Brad’s influences, why he uses CC licenses, and how he feels about his work being remixed and reused.

Can you give our reader’s a bit of background on you and your music? How long have you been creating music? What are your influences?

I started taking classical guitar lessons when I was 10 years old. I hated practicing and was never very good and quit because it was boring. Then when I was 14 or so I got into MOD/S3M trackers (Scream Tracker and then later Impulse Tracker) and was really into industrial/electronic music. I got an electric guitar a few years later and started trying to fit it all together as digital recording matured.

My influences were mostly classic rock as a kid. Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, etc, the stuff my dad listened to. As a teenager I was into more aggressive stuff: Ministry, Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails, etc. Besides being a lot harder, it had a real DIY ethic to it. There usually wasn’t much of a “band”, just one or two guys working on recordings. That was a huge inspiration because it seemed normal to me to think of doing everything myself. After that I mellowed out and de-gothed a bit but I secretly wish I could take myself seriously enough to rock like Ministry.
Read More…

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Freesound.org Update: Name Change, Radio, CC Licensed PHD, and more

Cameron Parkins, September 29th, 2008

Freesound, a venerable repository of CC-licensed samples, has been up to a bevy of good work since we last checked in with them. This includes developing a beautiful successor to wav2png, changing their name to freesound.org, teaming up with Happy New Ears to develop an interactive sample machine aimed at children, and launching Freesound Radio, an “experimental web-based system around collaboration and social interaction in sample based music creations.”

What many people don’t realize about Freesound.org is that it is an initiative of the Music Technology Group at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. This means that outside of Freesound there are a collection of amazing students and professors working on understanding how music technology is changing at a rapid pace. One of these student, Jordi Janer, recentlly released his PHD singing-driven interfaces for sound synthesizers as a CC BY-NC-SA licensed PDF download.

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H-Net Reviews

Jane Park, September 29th, 2008

H-Net is “an international consortium of scholars and teachers…[creating] and [coordinating] Internet networks with the common objective of advancing teaching and research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. H-Net is committed to pioneering the use of new communication technology to facilitate the free exchange of academic ideas and scholarly resources.” Recently, H-Net took a step towards facilitating this free exchange by licensing their online scholarly reviews of various books in the humanities and social sciences CC BY-NC-ND. Normally, scholarly reviews take a while to come out in print journals, so the online reviewing system of H-Net is effective in not only providing timely access to these reviews but also in stimulating response and discussion via their discussion networks, where each review is also published. 

ccLearn supports this step towards increasing openness and hopes for greater progress from H-Net in the future. MIT Press also recently licensed their publication, “Opening Up Education: The Collective Advancement of Education through Open Technology, Open Content, and Open Knowledge,” CC BY-NC-ND—but unfortunately the No Derivatives term prevents remixing and adaptation for different contexts and needs. The ability to change and build on educational resources is a freedom that educators, students and researchers find not only incredibly useful but integral to the nature of their work. We hope to see more in this vein from both H-Net and MIT Press in the future!

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REMINDER: CC Salon NYC is Tomorrow Night

Fred Benenson, September 29th, 2008

CC Salon NYC Logo

Just a quick reminder that the CC Salon NYC is happening tomorrow night!

The Open Planning Project has once again generously allowed us to use their loft space in the West Village for the salon and a reception afterward.

September’s Salon will feature presentations from Rachel Sterne from GroundReport.com, and a special screening / premier of two new shorts from the Meerkat Arts Media Collective, and other special surprises.

Here are the details:

Tuesday, September 30th, from 7-10pm
The Open Planing Project
349 W. 12th St., 1st Floor

We’ll also have free (as in beer) beer for the reception afterward. If you didn’t make it to July’s salon, don’t miss this one, and if you did, you’ll know to come early as space is limited.

Follow the event via Upcoming.org and RSVP via the Facebook event or e-mailing me – fred [at] creativecommons.org

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Jordan

Mike Linksvayer, September 29th, 2008

Creative Commons is working with Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property (AGIP) to create Jordan jurisdiction-specific licenses from the generic Creative Commons licenses.

CCi Jordan List

Project Leads: Ziad Maraqa (Legal Cases & Court Decisions Manager, AGIP) and Rami Olwan (Researcher at CCI ARC Center for Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation).

Archives:

More about Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property (AGIP)

When Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property (AGIP) was established, as TMP Agents in 1972 in Kuwait, we knew that we were facing a considerable challenge. Intellectual property protection in the region was still in its early stages of development. However, since then we at Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property have devoted our efforts to promoting the importance of IP protection throughout the Arab countries.

We have encouraged the introduction of IP laws and an efficient IP system that has introduced two significant changes to the region. Firstly, with the new legislation the major multinational corporations have been given the confidence to expand to the region because they are now assured of protection for their products. Secondly, the creative individuals of the Arab world such as Arab architects, artists, designers, computer scientists, musicians and writers, now have the protection for their products that ensures their hard work is properly rewarded.

As the years have passed we have been hugely successful in achieving the goals we initially set ourselves, and today we look around the region and are proud at the comprehensive developments that we have helped achieve in the field of IP.

One of our contributions, of which we take pride at AGIP, is our assistance and continued support provided to governmental committees and officials charged with revising and drafting new laws and regulations for the enforcement of intellectual property rights. Our participation in this field aims to ensure adequate methods of protection for intellectual property rights.

More info: http://www.agip.com

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The Transaction Costs of All Rights Reserved

Fred Benenson, September 26th, 2008

I’ve been thinking a lot about transaction costs lately, and how they’re at the core of what Creative Commons tries help the world with. By giving permission in advance by using a CC license and metadata, creators can lower the transaction costs of distributing their work. Aliza Sherman relates a story over at WebWorkerDaily that clearly demonstrates the benefits of switching to CC licensed work for blogging:

I recently had an email exchange with a photographer. He was unhappy that I used an image from his web site on one of my blogs without a proper credit or link back to his site. I took a look at the blog page in question – from 2005 – and noted that indeed, I did not credit him or link back to his site. So I removed the image immediately and replaced it with a Wikipedia Creative Commons image.

Aliza also posts some legal perspectives from lawyer Deena B. Burgess, regarding the legality of hosting, embedding, and linking to images found online. If you’re not already using CC licensed imagery for your blog posts, her answers may give you some reasons to reconsider.

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The Free Culture Game

Cameron Parkins, September 26th, 2008

The Free Culture Game, created by Molleindustria, is a flashed based abstract art piece that attempts to articulate the interplay between the commons and culture at large. Released under a CC BY-NC-SA license, we heard about it first on our community lists, but it has since been getting some nice traction elsewhere on the blogosphere. From Rhizome:

Italian artists Molleindustria promise “radical games against the dictatorship of entertainment,” and their latest effort may be their most direct statement against the pleasure industry to date. Touted as “playable theory,” the Free Culture Game offers a ludic metaphor for the battle between copyright encroachments and the free exchange of knowledge, ideas and art.

A circular field represents The Common, where knowledge can be freely shared and created; your job is to maintain a healthy ecology of yellow idea-bubbles bouncing from person to person before they can be sucked into the dark outer ring representing the forces of The Market. Your cursor, shaped like the Creative Commons logo, pushes the ideas around with a sort of reverse-magnetic repulsion field (a clever alternative to the typical shooting, eating or jumping-on-top-of-and-smooshing actions of many other 2-D games). People who absorb free, round ideas stay green and happy, while those who only consume square market-produced ones become grey and inverted.

The game never really ends: you can only do better or worse, suggesting by analogy that the fight for free culture will be an ongoing struggle without end.

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FSCONS: Free Society Conference and Nordic Summit

Michelle Thorne, September 26th, 2008

fscons banner

Free Culture, Free Software, and Free Content will join forces under the banner of “Free Society” at FSCONS on October 24-26 at the IT University of Götheborg, Sweden. The orgnaizing trinity, Creative Commons Sweden, Free Software Foundation Europe, and Wikimedia Sverige, see FSCONS as a chance to reach out with their respective communities and build joint projects with like-minded activists and organizations.

A strong speakers lineup provides the rhetorical food-for-thought in the Free Culture track. Mike Linksvayer (Creative Commons) asks, “How far is free culture behind free software?” as he charts key indicators and historical factors in the progress of each. Eva Hemmungs Wirten argues that the digital commons extends back to nineteenth-century London, while Oscar Swartz keynotes the events with the warning that Sweden’s controversial “Lex Orwell” may usher in “The End of Free Communication”.

Nikolaj Hald Nielsen spotlights Amarok 2, the intuitive music player for Linux and Unix, demonstrating a viable intersection of Free Culture and Free Software. Meanwhile, other landscapes are being analyzed by Inga Walling (Open Street Map), who recounts the project’s efforts to create and provide free geographic data.

John Buckman (Magnatune) riffs on “Squeezing the Evil out of the Music Industry” by using CC licensing to rethink record labels. And since online attribution persists as a thorny issues for many music content sites, Victor Stone (ccMixter) reports on how some platforms are solving the problem with the Sample Pool API.

The blend of timely topics and kindred communities makes FSCONS an exciting event to follow this autumn. Thanks a lot to the organizing teams for their efforts — we’re looking forward to this!

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