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2008 September

Former CC General Counsel to lead Australian government digital economy push

Mike Linksvayer, September 16th, 2008

Congratulations to former Creative Commons General Counsel Mia Garlick, who has joined the Australian government to lead its digital economy initiatives:

iTWire has learnt that Mia Garlick, an Australian lawyer who was most recently product counsel for YouTube, has been appointed to head the Australian Government’s drive for the digital economy future, as assistant secretary in the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (BCDE)

Her appointment is linked to communications minister Stephen Conroy’s announcement this week of plans to prepare Australia for the future ‘digital economy’. In preparation for this initiative the department advertised in May for “a talented and highly motivated senior manager to lead the Digital Economy Branch within the Department…[to provide] leadership and strategic direction to a branch with responsibility for the development of the digital economy in Australia.”

While at CC, Mia led development of the CC version 3.0 licenses and nearly every other project we undertook during her tenure, in addition to undertaking regular speaking engagements worldwide. Her intelligence, energy, and wit are certainly just what the Australian digital economy needs. Good luck!

It’s also worth noting that Creative Commons Australia has long been a leading CC jurisdiction project, especially in the field of public sector information. Just in the last week the National Innovation Review recommended CC and a minister immediately endorsed the recommendation.


Appropriately enough, a photo of Mia Garlick (far right) visiting Brian Fitzgerald, Stuart Cunningham, and Jessica Coates at CC Australia in 2006. Nic Suzor / CC BY-SA

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Late yet great news — Photosynth launches with CC support

Mike Linksvayer, September 16th, 2008

Last year you probably saw a video demo of Photosynth at TED, and forwarded and/or were forwarded the video many times (the video is even licensed under CC BY-NC-ND, like all TED videos). Lots of people forwarded it to me anyway — I apparently do something with computers :) and Photosynth is computer technology anyone can immediately connect with — it “synths” or stitches together collections of photos, creating a model one can navigate as if one were “there” — the demo video includes an incredible model of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, created from many normal photos.

Obviously this technology creates a whole new way to relate to photography, one that treats photos more as data that contributes to a model than as individual creative works. How should such ‘data’ and works rendered from the same be restricted? No doubt such questions will become increasingly relevant — Photosynth hints at futuristic new mediums and interfaces that massive and expected increases in storage, compute power, and sensor ubiquity will bring.

Photosynth opened to the public late last month, and it is great that Microsoft chose to encourage synthers to release their work under a CC license (see screenshot at end of this post). ReadWriteWeb and the Seattle Times were two of many publications to note the Creative Commons feature in Photosynth.

Below is a screenshot of my first attempted synth, composed of 98 photos taken from the windows of the CC office in San Francisco. Although one could do better with more experience or simply more photos, a screenshot really doesn’t do justice at all to this or any synth — click on the image to navigate around. Unfortunately this currently requires a plugin only available on Windows XP or Vista.

cc-sf-office-photosynth-shot

For anyone who wants to create a bigger or better synth, I’ve uploaded the original 98 photos to the Internet Archive and placed them in the public domain.


Synth creation window, showing CC license recommendation and selection.

A completely different part of Microsoft has also just announced CC licensing — the Microsoft Operations Framework 4.0, an IT guidebook and worksheet, is now released under CC BY. The MOF blog has a nice rationale:

One of the first things people realize when looking at implementing a service management framework, whether it is ITIL, MOF, or another, is that they must not only be adopted but also adapted to your individual organization’s needs.  You have to decide which of the described processes are relevant to your requirements and to what depth to apply them.  this is true whether you are a consultant trying to make a living assisting others in their implementations, or a IT Manager trying to decide how improve upon your organization’s existing change control.

MOF 4.0 now fully supports this need for flexibility and the ability to remix, adapt, and shuffle the content with the adoption of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. This license allows you to freely Share (copy, distribute, or transmit) any of the MOF content and Remix (adapt) that content to suit your needs.  For a full legal explanation of the terms of the license, please refer to the Creative Commons website.

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Indaba Music Team Up With Third Eye Blind

Cameron Parkins, September 16th, 2008

Exciting news from Indaba Music – alternative rock band Third Eye Blind have teamed up with the former Featured Commoner to offer fans of the band, and Indaba members, increased interaction with the band’s music and writing process. 3EB will posting unfinished song stems to the community site, allowing members to take the stems, reuse/remix them, and post them as CC BY-NC-ND licensed reworkings (somewhat similar to our Copyright Criminals contest).

To be clear the 3EB tracks are not CC-licensed, but CC licenses will allow Indaba members the ability to spread their creations in a non-commercial setting and experiment with 3EB’s material before it is released. Similarly, 3EB gains a means to collaborate with their fans in a way that is unique and more personal. The best material resulting from this collaboration will go on a companion album to be released alongside the band’s album sometime next year. From Indaba:

Here’s the deal. As 3EB finishes laying down tracks, the band will post unmixed instrument stems for you to tweak, shape, and edit through a series of contests. They want to hear your vision for their songs. The first track, “Non-Dairy Creamer,” is already available for you to work on!

Through a regular blog that chronicles their experience of creating an album, access to the unmixed stems and the dialogue among Indaba members, you’ll have the chance to watch the group develop their artistic concept.

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Back to School: Open Textbooks Gaining in Popularity

Jane Park, September 16th, 2008

There’s been a whole lot of press on open textbooks lately, in addition to my own posts on the Flexbook and the Student PIRGs’ recent report encouraging open source textbooks as the right model for digital textbooks (versus the limited e-books that commercial publishers currently offer). The difference in open source and commercial e-books is wide and deep. Open textbooks are freely editable, downloadable and repurposable by others, keeping with the notion that the search for truth in any academic field is continually being revised, especially in the science and technology fields. The perpetual beta status of knowledge is not just an oxymoron; the old fashioned textbook is simply outdated in this age of lightning fast communications. Furthermore, students and many professors are just not having it anymore.

The New York Times article, “Don’t Buy That Textbook, Download It Free,” features an interview with Cal Tech professor, R. Preston McAfee, who offers his “Introduction to Economic Analysis” online for free. Another article by the LA Times reports best-selling co-author Steven D. Levitt of Freakonomics calling McAfee brilliant. If brilliant minds putting out open textbooks and students buying in (for free and for low-cost print versions on places like Lulu.com and Flatworld Knowledge) are not an indication of a revolution in textbook making, I don’t know what is.

The numbers don’t lie either. Quotes the NY Times on McAfee:

If I had finished my own book, I would have finished a couple years ago,” [McAfee] said. “It would have taken five years. It would have spent five years in print and sold 2,000 copies.” Instead, he said, he posted it on the Web site and there have been 2.8 million page views of his textbook, “Signals and Systems,” including a translation into Spanish.

Wired also quotes a long-timer in the traditional textbook industry, Eric Frank, who is getting with the changing times: “The nice thing about open content is it gives faculty full control, creative control over the content of the book, full control over timing, and it give students a lot more control over how they want to consume it and how much they want to pay”…“On the surface they’re (traditional publishers) doing OK, but underneath the surface there are lots of problems.”

A long-existing and solid promoter of the open textbook is Connexions, an online platform “for collaboratively developing, freely sharing, and rapidly publishing scholarly content on the Web.” Connexions, created by Rice University’s Richard Baraniuk, initiated a new way of thinking about textbooks: 

“Most textbooks are a mass of information in linear format: one topic follows after another. However, our brains are not linear – we learn by making connections between new concepts and things we already know. Connexions mimics this by breaking down content into smaller chunks, called modules, that can be linked together and arranged in different ways. This lets students see the relationships both within and between topics and helps demonstrate that knowledge is naturally interconnected, not isolated into separate classes or books.”

According to the NY Times, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, a staunch supporter of the open educational resources (OER) movement, has granted $6 million to Connexions alone. Connexions licenses all of its content CC BY, the license that allows the greatest sharing capabilities and creativity for education, while still retaining authorship and thereby greater quality in collaborative output.

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Monk Turner Releases New Album Love Story

Cameron Parkins, September 16th, 2008

LA-based multi-instrumentalist and former Featured Commoner Monk Turner released his latest album, Love Story, a little under a week ago for free download on archive.org. The album is released under a CC BY-NC-ND license, making it his fifth album released in this vein, his second this year, and twentieth overall. From Monk Turner:

I wasn’t planning on making another concept album after I recorded my first one. But, somehow 20 albums later here we are. Being that this was going to be the 20th, I wanted to do something special and go beyond making just another album. About three years ago, a friend suggested I write an album of romantic love songs instead of the usual love dilemmas I tend to write about. While this idea excited me, I wanted a 3rd dimension and I thought this would be a great opportunity to take the idea of ‘concept art’ to the next level by including conceptual visual art. After a long search I found Junji Lee as a visual artist who suggested the love songs follow the Buddhist path to enlightenment or 10 Bulls. In typical fashion, the whole album was written in just under 2 weeks and demos were sent out for critique.

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iBioSeminars

Jane Park, September 15th, 2008

This month, the American Society of Cell Biology’s iBioSeminars added twelve new seminars to its original repertoire of twenty. The new seminars explore in depth topics such as “Odorant and Pheromone Signaling” and “Telomeres, Aging, and Cancer.” If you didn’t know already, iBioSeminars is the ASCB’s web seminar series featuring world-class scientists’ “on-going research in leading laboratories”.

Ron Vale and Bruce Alberts, two professors in Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology
and Biochemistry at UCSF, write:

On behalf of the American Society of Cell Biology, we would like to welcome you to view our exciting iBioSeminars web seminar series, featuring 12 new seminars from world-class scientists. Our mission is to provide free-of-charge seminars from leaders in the life sciences to students and researchers throughout the world. iBioSeminars highlight recent research from leading laboratories but also contain more extensive introductions than are typical of university seminars. iBioSeminars are thus accessible to advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students as well as to researchers who wish to learn about fields outside of their expertise. These free, “on-demand” seminars can be downloaded and viewed on a computer, an iPod or an iPhone, allowing you to view them anywhere – at work, at home, on a train, or in a classroom.

The ASCB plans on adding twenty new seminars each year, hopefully even making foreign language translations so that they will be even more globally accessible. iBioSeminars is licensed CC BY-NC-ND.

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Common Craft

Cameron Parkins, September 15th, 2008

Common Craft is a company that makes videos which are “short, simple and focused on making complex ideas easy to understand.” These videos range in topic – from Twitter to social bookmarking to electing the U.S. President – and are made using a technique Common Craft calls Paperworks, a whiteboard-and-paper format that they believe “is designed to cut out the noise and stick to what matters.”

Common Craft make their videos available online for businesses to license as educational tools, but also share the videos widely under a CC BY-NC-ND license. There are definite advantages for businesses in getting the licensed versions, most notably portability and quality. Outside of this, the CC licensed Common Craft videos have garnered heightened popularity on YouTube and other sharing sites, increasing their name recognition and ubiquity – two factors that have hopefully been instrumental in expanding their growing list of custom-video clients. Common Craft have a great video posted on their licensing process that explains it all clearly and simply – making it not only informative but also a great example of their production style.

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Adobe continues to do the right thing with XMP

Mike Linksvayer, September 12th, 2008

XMP is the format Creative Commons recommends for embedding metadata (such as licensing information) in most media file types. Frankly there isn’t much competition — embedded metadata is poorly supported, formats are balkanized, and nobody save Adobe (XMP’s developer) has had the willingness to work on a problem that can only be solved over many years (programmers have to build support into software people actually use) and a platform to drive initial adoption.

Fortunately Adobe’s long term efforts are paying off. More and more software supports reading and embedding XMP with more and more file formats. This only makes sense, as more and more people have the need to manage huge media collections that previously only media houses such as ad agencies needed.

Equally fortunately, Adobe continues to make the right moves toward keeping XMP open, ensuring it continues progressing toward being the universal means of embedding metadata in media files. Last year Adobe released the XMP software development kit under the permissive BSD software license. This directly enabled Creative Commons’ liblicense to use some of this code.

Now Adobe’s XMP product manager Gunar Penikis blogs that Adobe has posted a royalty free public patent license for XMP:

This will further remove barriers to the adoption and use of XMP and a metadata standard across our partner solutions and ecosystems. Which is really exciting because better interoperability results in a better customer experience when media is exchanged across applications and services.

This is especially welcome news for the free/open source software world, including again, the code Creative Commons develops — software patents can block development and distribution of open code (e.g., see media codecs), so it is reassuring that Adobe has added a patent license to its openness strategy for XMP.

Thanks to Adobe! Incidentally, Gunar Penikis spoke about XMP at the CC technology summit held in June. See the summit page for slides and video.

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Copyleft Festival 2008

Cameron Parkins, September 12th, 2008

The Copyleft Festival 2008 kicked off yesterday in Arezzo, Italy (located in Tuscany) with a great looking lineup of speakers and events. From CF2K8:

Four days full of debates, meetings, music and shows that speak about Copyleft and Creative Commons licences. From the 11th to the 15th of September, the city of Arezzo in Tuscany will be the capital of free circulation of ideas. The festival will take place in Arrezo’s two central squares and will host a bevy of guests including the collective of writers Kai Zen, the French mathematician Philippe Aigrain and new media expert Gabriele Lunati (who will explore copyleft and CC applied to music).

On Sunday the 14th, a ‘barcamp’ about new media and citizen journalism will take place from 11AM to 5PM. Space to debate, with round tables dedicated to open source/public administration, bank loans, music and CC-using professionals will also be available. Every day features book presentations, projections, shows.

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High Resolution Photo of the Day

Fred Benenson, September 12th, 2008

Blogger and Director of Content Development @ blip.tv, Eric Mortensen, does a fantastic job of curating high resolution Creative Commons licensed photos. He uses Flickr’s ‘Favorite‘ function in an innovative way — all the work he favorites gets pushed to a RSS feed that you can subscribe to. Here’s a clip of the gallery he’s been curating for a while, with over 600 images, almost all licensed under CC:

Thank Eric, for showing how easy it is to showcase and curate the commons.

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