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2010 February

“Python for Informatics” Open Textbook Remixed in 11 Days

Timothy Vollmer, February 5th, 2010

Image: dr-chuckCC BY

Chuck Severance, clinical professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, recently published a new textbook in 11 days because he was able to remix an existing textbook. The book, Python for Informatics: Exploring Information, is currently being used in his winter semester Networked Computing course. The textbook is based on the openly licensed book Think Python: How to Think like a Computer Scientist by Allen B. Downey. Students are able to take advantage of the University Library’s Espresso Book Machine to print on-demand copies for approximately $10. Python for Informatics is available under a CC BY-SA license.

Severance explains, “the book is a cool example of a situation where I’ve finally got to the ‘remixing’ bit of the Open promise.” The first 10 chapters are done and eight more are planned for completion by April 2010. Read more of Chuck’s thoughts about remixing an open book.

Creating this open textbook was a part of a larger effort by Chuck to support his course with openly licensed  content, and current versions of lecture slides and videos are published via the PythonLearn website.  In a past iteration of the course, Chuck went through the dScribe process developed by Open.Michigan to create an OER version of SI 502, available under a CC BY license.

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Victorian Government Commits to CC as Default Licensing System

Michelle Thorne, February 5th, 2010

The UK government recently made a splash with its move towards opening government data. Now CC Australia’s Jessica Coates shares a promising government initiative in her home country. The Victorian Government has become the first Australian government to commit to using Creative Commons as the default licensing system for its public sector information (PSI). Many of its reports and other works will use CC BY, which she explains is becoming the preferred license for Australian PSI.

The commitment is part of the Government’s response to its Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee’s Inquiry into Improving Access to Victorian Public Sector Information and Data, which recommended that the Victorian Government adopt a “hybrid public sector information licensing model comprising Creative Commons and a tailored suite of licences for restricted materials.”

Specifically, the response (which is under CC BY-NC-ND) states at p.8 that:

he Victorian Government endorses the committee’s overarching recommendation that the default position for the management of PSI should be open access. The Victorian Government further commits to the development of a whole-of-government Information Management Framework (IMF) whereby PSI is made available under Creative Commons licensing by default with a tailored suite of licences for restricted materials.

As far as we are aware, this is the strongest commitment to Creative Commons implementation made by any Australian government. While there have been a number of excellent CC-friendly recommendations coming out of recent government inquiries – notably the Government 2.0 and Venturous Australia reports – these are yet to be officially adopted. And while there are some excellent implementation projects – the Victorian Government specifically mentions the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Queensland’s Government Information Licensing Framework – these are still limited to individual agencies.

We’ll be very excited to see where the Victorian goes from here.

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CC Salon NYC: Opening Education (March 3rd)

Jane Park, February 3rd, 2010

The Creative Commons Salon NYC is back in action on March 3rd at the Open Planning Project‘s uber cool penthouse space from October. The theme for this salon is “Opening Education”, and if you don’t really know what that means, think CC licenses as applied to various learning contexts and you’re off to a good start. To learn more, come by for a good time and free (as in beer) beer. The basic line-up is as follows:

  • Eric Frank, founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Flat World Knowledge, a commercial textbook publishing company that is leveraging CC licenses as part of their business model—basically offering free digital textbooks via CC BY-NC-SA, but charging for the prints and supplementary materials. (Is this business model working? Come and find out!) Eric was previously “Director of Marketing for Prentice Hall Business Publishing, a division with annual sales in the hundreds of millions.”
  • Neeru Paharia, co-founder of the Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU), a grassroots education project that moves learning outside of institutional walls (for free) by leveraging the internet, social software, and CC licensed content. Neeru is formerly the Executive Director of Creative Commons and is finishing up her doctorate at the Harvard Business School in Behavioral Economics.
  • A panel of K-12 technologists/educators on the cutting edge of their fields who incorporate CC licenses and social media into their classrooms. They will give a run-down on what they do, how they do it, and answer questions about the challenges they face from curious folk like you. The panel consists of:  Dave Bill, Technology Integrator at the Dwight School and TEDxNYED organizer; arvind s grover, co-host of 21st Century Learning (a podcast about… 21st century learning) and Director of Technology at the Hewitt School (also a TEDxNYED organizer); and Kerri Richardson Redding, Director of Academic Technology at the Brooklyn Friends School.

I’ll also be available as the Communications Coordinator for Creative Commons to give updates on CC in education and answer your general questions. John Britton (Lead Developer at Flat World Knowledge) will also be available to talk about his experience organizing the Mozilla Drumbeat/P2PU course, “Mashing Up the Open Web.”

THE DETAILS (RSVP for updates!):

Wednesday, March 3rd, from 7-10pm
The Open Planning Project
148 Lafayette St
Between Grand & Howard
New York, NY

Beer is courtesy of Flat World Knowledge and we are generously being hosted by Gotham Schools, “an independent news source about the New York City Public Schools” that is “an initiative of The Open Planning Project, a Manhattan-based nonprofit dedicated to empowering civil society through technology.” If you’ve didn’t make it to any past CC Salons, don’t miss this one, and if you did, you’ll know to come early as space is limited.

RSVP to the event via Facebook or by e-mailing me: janepark [at] creativecommons.org.

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Open Video Alliance Wireside Chat with Lawrence Lessig

Cameron Parkins, February 2nd, 2010

On Febuary 25th the Open Video Alliance will be hosting a wireside chat with CC founding board member Lawrence Lessig to discuss copyright, fair use, and online video. While the talk itself will be taking place at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, it will also be broadcast live online – as such, the OVA are encouraging screenings to be set up around the globe:

This is a talk about copyright in a digital age, and the role (and importance) of a doctrine like “fair use.” Fair use allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, and is essential for commentary, criticism, news reporting, remix, research, teaching and scholarship with video.

As a medium, online video will be most powerful when it is fluid, like a conversation. Like the rest of the internet, online video must be designed to encourage participation, not just passive consumption. Tune in here on February 25th, 6:00pm US Eastern time (GMT -5), or check out our screening events in cities across the world.

Events are already planned for New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles with more in the works in Washington DC, Austin, Toronto and Rio de Janeiro. If you are interested in hosting your own, head to the OVA website where you can fill out a registration form and apply for a microgrant to help get your event off the ground.

Update: The Wireside Chat is being co-hosted by iCommons Ltd with funding from the Ford Foundation.

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EFF’s 20th Birthday Party

Alex Kozak, February 2nd, 2010

For the past 20 years, our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been at the forefront of the intersection between technology and law, helping to define and fight for our rights in the digital age. We’d like to congratulate them on hitting the 20 year mark. To celebrate their 20th birthday, they’re throwing on a party this February 10th in San Francisco:

February 10, 2010
Doors open at 8 pm, VIP event at 7 pm
$30 donation (no one turned away)
DNA Lounge
375 Eleventh Street
San Francisco, CA

Special VIP donors are invited to a pre-party event with Adam Savage, John Perry Barlow, John Gilmore, Mitch Kapor, Mark Klein, and others.

They’ve also created a commemorative poster, which is available in hi-res under CC BY:


Image: EFF-mecha-POSTER by Hugh D’Andrade / CC BY.
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CA Free Digital Textbook Initiative Launches Phase 2

Jane Park, February 2nd, 2010

Many of you have heard about California’s Free Digital Textbook Initiative that launched last spring, which called for submissions of free digital textbooks in math and science for use by the state’s schools. Of the 16 textbooks submitted last year, 15 are openly licensed under one of the Creative Commons licenses—and all 10 that passed 90% of CA’s state standards are CC licensed.

In addition to individuals, the CK-12 Foundation, Curriki, and Connexions submitted open textbooks on subjects like Algebra, Calculus, Biology, Chemistry, Geometry, Trigonometry, and various other -ometries. You can check out the full textbook list and standards reviews at the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN).

Now, the Governor and his constituents are launching Phase 2 of the Initiative, calling this time for “content developers to submit high school history-social science and higher-level math course textbooks for review against California’s academic content standards.” From the press release,

“Resources like digital textbooks play a critical role in our 21st century educational landscape, and expanding my first-in-the-nation initiative will provide local school districts additional high-quality free resources to help prepare California’s students to compete in the global marketplace,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I urge content developers to jump on board this second phase and submit social science and advanced math material to help ensure California’s shift to a more advanced and cost-effective education system continues.”

Phase 2 is accepting submissions on a rolling basis, so if you (or your project) have an open textbook completed or in the works, make sure the CC license info is marked up correctly and submit it to the CLRN website. For more on licensing, visit creativecommons.org/about/licenses.

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Egyptian License Draft Open for Public Discussion

Michelle Thorne, February 1st, 2010

The past year witnessed some major achievements for Creative Commons in the Arab world. Highlights included Al Jazeera’s adoption of CC BY for the world’s first broadcast-quality online repository and CC Jordan’s substantial efforts on the first Arabic license port.

2010 promises more exciting developments for the rapidly-growing CC community in the Arab world. Today the legal team from CC Egypt, headed by Hala Essalmawi, produced the first BY-NC-SA license draft adapted to Egyptian law (.pdf).

Thanks to the ongoing efforts of Hala and her team, supported by CC Jordan’s Rami Olwan and Ziad Maraqa, the Egyptian draft is now ready for public discussion.

The public discussion is an open forum where everyone —  from lawyers to active license users, from linguists to translators — is invited to contribute. If you have comments about different aspects of the licenses, whether in regards to legal, linguistic or usability issues, please feel welcome to join the CC Egypt mailing list and share your thoughts. Comments should be submitted as soon as possible to allow enough time for review, so we encourage you to post to the list before the end of March.

The Arabic and English versions of the Egyptian BY-NC-SA license are available, as is a summary of the substantial changes proposed by the legal team to port the licenses to Egyptian copyright law.

As efforts across the Arab world continue to expand and gather peer support, we hope that the Egyptian public discussion will foster more cross-border collaborations. This inter-jurisdictional support is a model that is particularly strong in the region, and hopefully it can become a viable approach for future projects.

Congratulations to CC Egypt, and we all look forward to comments from you, the public!

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CC Licenses and the Haiti Relief Effort, Continued

Cameron Parkins, February 1st, 2010

Late last month we looked at how our licenses were being used by both Google and Architecture for Humanity to keep content open, free, and fluid in their Haiti Relief efforts. As these efforts continue to grow more groups have turned to CC licenses to assist their goals, with three projects in particular catching our attention.

The OpenStreetMap project found an immediate niche to fill, launching their Project Haiti page in an effort to map out what was, at the time, a largely incomplete geographical picture. Far more detailed now, OSM’s data set is available for free under a CC Attribution-ShareAlike license, helping those on the ground in Haiti get to where they need to be with greater accuracy.

Haiti Rewired, a project of WIRED magazine, is a collaborative community focused on tech and infrastructure solutions for Haiti. All the content published to Haiti Rewired is licensed under a CC Attribution-Noncommercial license, keeping the conversation legally open. You can read the project’s mission statement for more info.

A similar effort comes from Sahana, a free and open source software disaster management system. Soon after the crisis hit, Sahana launched their Haiti 2010 Disaster Relief Portal, which includes an organizations registry, a situation map, and an activities report. All content and data from the portal is released under CC Attribution license, allowing necessary information to be accessed by anyone without legal or financial hurdles.

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Free Culture X

Jane Park, February 1st, 2010

Free Culture X, a conference of Students for Free Culture, will be held February 13th at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Keynote addresses will be given by Harvard Berkman Center co-founder Jonathan Zittrain, the co-founder of the public interest group Public Knowledge, Gigi Sohn, and the director of American University’s Center for Social Media, Pat Aufderheide.

The conference is focused on developing greater openness among institutions of higher education by specifically investigating:

  • The politics of open networks,
  • Global access to knowledge, and
  • Open education.

Attendees have the option to pay-what-you-want with prizes (such as signed copies of books by Lawrence Lessig and Henry Jenkins or custom voicemail recordings by Jonathan Zittrain) awarded for sizable donations. You can register at http://conference.freeculture.org/register/. CC will be in attendance in addition to many past and current CC supporters.

All contents of the Free Culture X site are dedicated to the public domain with CC0.

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