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2008 December

A Byte Of Vim: Free/Open E-Book on the Vim 7 Editor

Cameron Parkins, December 4th, 2008

A Byte Of Vim is a newly released e-book by Swaroop C H that guides users, new and old, through the Vim 7 text editor. Released under a CC BY-SA license, the e-book is not only legally ripe for reuse but also approved for free cultural works.

Of particular note is A Byte of Vim‘s distribution model – primarily released online in wiki format, communal edits are easy and open, taking advantage of the freedoms inherent to BY-SA licensed works. You can download the e-book in PDF format as well.

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CC board member Michael Carroll asks for your support

Mike Linksvayer, December 4th, 2008

One of the best things about Creative Commons, the organization, is the passionate commitment of our entire board. In addition to volunteering thousands of hours over CC’s history, they’re responsible for the major donor fundraising that bootstrapped and sustains CC, but all of that goes on behind the scenes.

For the past few years we’ve added a public fundraising component, which has and will continue to be an increasing portion of CC’s overall support. CC board member Michael Carroll has posted his public appeal for CC support on his blog:

Creative Commons is asking for your support this year to enable us to continue the work we’ve been doing in promoting openness in the cultural, educational, and scientific fields. http://support.creativecommons.org/

If you support the vision, please help to staff the vision. Why? You might ask. How hard is it to host a web site?

Indeed. Please go read why, then click over to join Michael Carroll in supporting CC.

You can also check out Carroll and other CC board members on screen in Jesse Dylan’s A Shared Culture.

For even more Carroll and CC, read his paper on Creative Commons as Conversational Copyright. Here’s an excerpt for everyone, link and emphasis added:

As should now be clear, Creative Commons copyright licenses embody a vision of conversational copyright. Within this vision, creators or copyright owners seek to facilitate use of their expression for purposes such as dialog and education. A personal anecdote may bring the point home. I had been invited to participate in a panel discussion at an annual meeting of scholarly publishers. My fellow panelists were copyright lawyers, publishers, and others with a professional commitment to respect copyright law. The topic for discussion was the future of copyright law, and the panel agreed that it would be useful to show a topical eight-minute flash movie, available on the Internet and created by Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson, with music by Aaron McLeran.

Within the eyes of U.S. copyright law, showing the entire video at a professional conference would be considered a public performance that requires a license. One might argue that the authors had granted such a license impliedly by placing the movie on the Internet. But the matter was not entirely clear. Indeed, in a preparatory conference call, one panelist asked about clearing the rights to show the video. Another panelist quickly rejoined, “Not a problem. It’s released under a Creative Commons license.” No further action was required to comply with the law. In this way, Creative Commons licenses enable creators to reach a wide audience and save busy audience members the time and effort of seeking permission to share the creators’ work. And, as it turned out, showing the video helped stimulate a very active and engaged dialog among the panelists and between the panel and the audience.

Yes, it is “Not a problem”, and CC does host a website, among other things. It costs money to make complex problems tractable. Please join Michael Carroll and the rest of our board in supporting Creative Commons.

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Bulgarian President Chooses CC BY ND

Michelle Thorne, December 4th, 2008

The official website of the Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov is now available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 Bulgarian license. Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been releasing its material under the same license since 2006, but ordinarily, these websites would be under full copyright, explains CC Bulgaria Project Lead

Bulgaria has taken a step in the right direction to complete its image as a country where the politicians are aware of the most advanced technologies and use them for the good of the society,” Veni

Government leaders in other countries are also choosing similar paths. The Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan licenses his official website under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported license, and governments in Australia and Mexico (pdf) use and recommend CC. Another licensing decision already bearing fruit is Change.gov, the website of US president-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, which is published under the most permissive of Creative Commons copyright licenses – CC Attribution 3.0 Unported.

For a listing of more governmental uses of CC, please visit our wiki page: http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Government_use_of_CC_licenses.

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Commons Crossroads: CC Asia-Pacific Conference 2009

Michelle Thorne, December 4th, 2008

Regional collaborations are strengthening CC projects worldwide. Regular conferences and outreach, coordinated on a regional level by CC Project Leads, are bringing visibility to local initiatives and promoting the ideals of sharing and free culture worldwide. Previous meetings have yielded clearer strategies and collaborations, as demonstrated by the recent Latam Commons, the growing COMMUNIA network, and last year’s successful ACIA workshop in Taipel.

CC Asia and Pacific community will be pleased to learn that another conference is in the works. From CC Philippines:

AN INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE

You are cordially invited to attend and participate in the regional conference of Creative Commons in Asia and the Pacific in the Philippines on 5-6 February 2009 to be hosted by the Arellano University School of Law, Lead Public Institution of Creative Commons – Philippines. The principal venue for the event will be at the Coral Ballroom of the Manila Pavillon Hotel situated at the heart of the City of Manila.

The conference aims (a) to showcase the various initiatives of Creative Commons in Asia and the Pacific and (b) for the stakeholders to get together in a forum to define the roadmap of Creative Commons in the region following the 2008 iCommons Summit in Sapporo, Japan.

We hope you will join us!

Image: “CC Asia” by Lairaja, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Philippines license.

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CC Talks With: Collaborative Statistics — An Open Textbook Model

Jane Park, December 3rd, 2008

CC BY (Barbara Illowsky and Susan Dean)

CC BY (Barbara Illowsky and Susan Dean)

One of the most exciting sub-movements within open education is the current revolution regarding the evolution of textbooks. Old-fashioned publishers would often (and still do) rack up prices to hundreds of dollars per textbook, but this business model is rapidly changing to favor vastly cheaper educational resources based on more open licensing policies. One driver is that the information in textbooks becomes outdated the minute it comes out in print, to the point that what is being taught in schools is often inaccurate. Open textbooks better represent the dynamic nature of information because they are themselves dynamic. They can be manufactured collaboratively over the internet, are digital and thereby easily editable, and are openly licensed so that anyone can update the information in the future. The premise is that you should never have to throw out old content — only improve upon it. 

At the COSL Open Education Conference this year, Susan Dean, along with others, presented on Sustainability Models for Community College Open Textbooks. Her presentation was based on her own path towards open textbook publishing. She and Dr. Barbara Illowsky developed, over a number of years, the textbook Collaborative Statistics. Today, it is freely available for access and derivation via CC BY on the Connexions platform, but for Susan and Barbara, obtaining the rights to the book and cementing a publisher and platform were far from easy. 

Below are Susan’s and Barbara’s take on the path they chose. I was lucky enough to catch up to them via email and ask a few questions — about themselves, Collaborative Statistics, and open textbooks in general.

Can you say a few words about yourselves and your background in education?  What drew you to academia in the first place?  As an academic, how have your conceptions of education evolved?

Susan
I earned a secondary teaching credential to teach high school math and art and taught high school for the next four years.  I went back to school in computer science and worked for Honeywell and Hewlett-Packard and then was hired by De Anza College to teach math at the same time as I was working on a master’s degree in applied math at Santa Clara University.

I grew up poor but always did well in school and received a lot of attention from teachers, several of whom were outstanding.  I have always found math along with marine biology highly interesting and would tutor other students in both subjects in high school and found it fun.  I also tutored students, including blind and deaf students, in college. These factors combined to make me want to teach.

I have become a “hands-on” teacher in math.  Students, especially developmental students, learn best by “doing” and by working in groups.  I believe in having students use technology to help them learn.

 

Barbara
I tutored in college and really enjoyed it. I did not plan on becoming an instructor, though. In graduate school, I had a teaching scholarship and found that I loved teaching. I loved helping students; I loved when they were successful, especially after a hard struggle to learn.

About 15 years ago, I became interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning. I researched pedagogy and andragogy (the theory of adult learning).  Since completing my PhD, I have continued to study the learning process.

I now understand education to be much more of a life time process, than I had previously thought, as well as effective instruction to be much more constructivist than how most educators teach.

In your opinion, what are the important ways in which community and four year colleges differ — in terms of degrees granted, student populations, educational needs and challenges…?

Community colleges are for students who want a particular certificate (usually for a job), who want an AA or AS, who want to transfer to a four year school or who are interested in particular subjects.  Four year colleges, for the most part, are for students who want a four year degree.  Four year colleges typically have “academic” majors.   Many students would not go to college if there were no community colleges. Among a myriad of services, community colleges provide developmental help in English and math if students need it (and about 80% who come to the community colleges do), provide transfer programs, offer counseling that not only gives students advisory help for classes and programs but provides personal guidance as well, offer excellent financial advice for those students who need financial help and are cheaper than four year colleges.

Community colleges enroll almost half of all undergraduate students in the U.S.  As a result, a good many community colleges are extremely diverse in student populations (De Anza College is a very good example) and the preparedness of the students is wider than at a UC or CSU or private college or university.

How do you envision Collaborative Statistics being used in the classroom?

Collaborative Statistics has been used in the classroom for about 15 years.  The book is intended to complement an elementary course in statistics that is collaborative and practical.  Students work in groups to apply what they have learned to complete data driven labs and projects. The book was written to accommodate this mode of classroom activity.  It was also written with English as a second language (ESL) students in mind and has been used successfully over the years with many ESL students.

From what I understood from your presentation (Susan) at  COSL OpenEd ’08, writing Collaborative Statistics was far from the hardest part. The book was originally published with a commercial publisher under all rights reserved copyright.  What triggered the need to open up these rights?

We acquired the rights back from the publisher so that we could lower the cost of the book.  We had found that too many of our students struggled to pay for their books especially as the price of books went up (the cost increase has been dramatic over the years).  So, when we had the chance to open up the rights to the book and make it free online, we were ready to do it.

Can you tell us a bit about the process you had to go through to convert to an open license? What were the steps you took? What were the roughest bumps in the road?

Martha Kanter, Chancellor of the Foofthill-De Anza Community College District, is very interested in open educational resources.  She is acquainted with Bob Maxfield of the non-profit Maxfield Foundation (associated with Rice University).  She recommended our book to Bob Maxfield who in turn made the book available to the Connexions Project of Rice University.   Since we had control of the book (we published it), it was our decision to acquire an open license.  The roughest bumps involved the amount of time it took to find the right organization for our book.

If you could give a piece of advice to other textbook authors and/or teachers who wish to publish their work openly, what would it be?

Do it!  Think of the many students and faculty who could benefit from your work.

Why did you choose CC BY, as opposed to one of the more restrictive licenses?

We chose the license that Connexions requested for the least restrictions.  Plus, the least restrictive license allows for the most freedom of improvement of a product.

What would you say to someone who was worried about commercial uses of their work?

Choose an organization like Connexions to publish on the Web.   Connexions allows and encourages users to collaboratively develop, freely share and quickly publish content on the Web.  Anyone who uses any part of someone else’s content can modify the content but must give attribution to the authors of the content.

Open textbooks are certainly taking off in a big way these days, what with Connexions, Flatworld Knowledge, CK12 Foundation’s Flexbooks, and the recent bill signed into law enabling California Community Colleges to establish OER pilot programs. What do you think specifically about this bill — AB 2261?  Will you be involved with the execution of this bill, considering your ties with De Anza Community College?  If not, how do you see the program working?

We are highly in favor of AB 2261.  We are not involved with the execution of the bill.  Article 2 of AB 2261 lays out a plan for the program including a possible lead community college to coordinate the planning and development of the pilot program.  Especially important is Article 2 part (c) (3) which deals with developing “a community college professional development course that introduces faculty, staff, and college course developers to the concept, creation, content, and production methodologies that enable OER to be offered to students in community college classes.”

Lastly, what is the future of open textbooks? What would you say we have to change in order for open education to be maximally effective?

Open textbooks are here to stay!  Connexions has much improved our book with what they have done on the cnx.org site.  They have broken down the content into modules that can be linked together and arranged in different ways.  We are sure that the other organizations that are involved in open educational resources have done something similar.  There has to be some kind of massive ad campaign (similar to what California did with the big propositions in the recent November 2008 election but keep it honest) that shows the great benefits of open educational resources.  The ad must target everyone but especially faculty to show them the great educational possibilities that exist, the fact that the resources are easy to use and the fact that the resources are free.

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Change.gov’s Choice Already Bearing Fruit

Fred Benenson, December 3rd, 2008

Less than 72 hours after the Obama-Biden Transition Team adopted our most permissive license for Change.gov, Cerado Ventana has built a Change.gov iPhone, mobile application, and widget. We will never know if this application would have been built if Change.gov hadn’t chosen such a permissive license, but it just goes to show what interesting things can happen when you let the world know your work is free to be built upon.

We originally caught this via Twitter and Christopher Carfi’s “Social Customer Manifesto” blog where he expressed thanks to Obama’s team for using CC:

Thank you again to the Obama administration for opening up Change.gov with Creative Commons to make this possible, and thanks to everyone here on the team. You have been building killer technology, and have enabled us to create this new conduit for citizens and government to connect.

This is just the beginning of innovative uses of the content from Change.gov, so keep an eye out for more interesting applications and let us know about them.

Check out the widget after the jump.
Read More…

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Los Angeles: GOOD December featuring Creative Commons collaborations

Eric Steuer, December 3rd, 2008

If you’re in Los Angeles over the next two weeks, GOOD is hosting a series called GOOD December from Friday, 12/5 through Friday 12/19 in their new space on Melrose Avenue. It’s open to the public from 11am-5pm every day and will offer salons, panel discussions, meals, and more. There will be occasional parties in the evening hours that require an RSVP; check out the GOOD December site for more details. There’s also a nice write-up about it at Flavorpill with some useful info.

Creative Commons is collaborating with GOOD on two of the ongoing pieces of the series. One is an installation of Into Infinity – the art and music project we’re producing with Dublab. The other is a set of podcast interviews about the culture of sharing that I conducted with Jimmy Wales, Chris Hughes, Chris Dibona, Caterina Fake, Curt Smith, Joi Ito and a variety of other luminaries who use sharing as a cornerstone to work they do across a variety of fields. Snippets of the interviews will be running throughout the series’ two weeks – grab a set of headphones and listen up!

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Lessig and others offer “Open Government” principles

Eric Steuer, December 2nd, 2008

A short follow-up to our post from yesterday about how Change.gov is now available under a Creative Commons license: Lawrence Lessig announces a set of “open government” principles intended to guide the Obama-Biden transition team’s use of the Internet. Visit open-government.us for the letter and video that outline these principles, and read Ben Smith’s post on Politico for more information about this project.

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HarperStudio Interviews Joi Ito

Fred Benenson, December 2nd, 2008


HarperStudio, an imprint of the world renown publishers Harper Collins, has an interview with Joi Ito, our CEO. In his answers, Joi tackles some of the more complex implications of Creative Commons licensing for media like books:

2) Does Creative Commons have different implications for different forms of media? Would books be affected differently than music, for example?

Joi Ito: … In the case of book publishing, we have seen a variety of different examples. The basic consideration is how much demand the book already has versus the potential demand that a free download version of the book might create. Clearly there is some cannibalization of sales if people who were going to buy the book end up reading it online. However, we have quite a bit of data which supports the fact that making the book available for free increases the likelihood that the book will get stronger coverage on blogs and word of mouth and also find its way into markets not typically marketed to by the publishers. If, for instance, one allows derivative works, a good book will often quickly get translated, whole or in part, which can drive demand in International markets.

Definitely worth a read if you’re interested in the future of publishing and CC.

Update: HarperStudio also points us towards Lawrence Lessig’s appearance on KQED.

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Iron Man and the Right Not to Be Attributed

Fred Benenson, December 2nd, 2008

When Jeremy Keith, a web developer living and working in England took a photo of at Cape Canaveral and posted it to Flickr under our Attribution license (which seems to be the flavor of the month around here), he had no idea it was eventually going to end up in the blockbuster feature film Iron Man.

After explaining the terms of the CC license to a studio representative interested in using the photo in the film, Jeremy was told that it would costs at least $1500 to be attributed in the credits. So the studio offered the next best thing in lieu of being attributed properly: cash. But Jeremy turned the money down and just signed the license release anyway.

Besides being another example of Hollywood utilizing CC licensed material, this story offers insight into why we developed the CC+ protocol. CC+ is designed to help creators negotiate rights outside the scope of the license. For a lot of cases, this turns out to be our NonCommercial provision — that is, musicians offer their music to their fans under NC and use CC+ to point commercial users to a 3rd party rights broker (like Magnatune) that handles commercial rights negotiation on behalf of the artist. But here we can see another right being negotiated, that of attribution, which shows just how flexible CC licenses are.

Remember, when you’re the creator and owner of a copyrighted work, you have ultimate say over who does what with your work; CC licenses merely help you negotiate the thicket of what that “what” is.

Thanks go to Jeremy for writing up such an important example of CC licensed works being used in the wild.

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