CC Salon in San Francisco: Free culture and social justice

Elliot Harmon, March 13th, 2014

CC10 Party in San Francisco
CC10 Party in San Francisco / David Kindler / CC BY

Creative Commons is thrilled to announce that we will be reviving CC salons on a quarterly basis starting March 27!

Years ago, CC ran a series of CC Salon events in the Bay Area, informal events that brought together creators of all kinds to talk about how and why they choose open in their fields. CC salons continue to occur all over the world, but on March 27, CC will host a salon on social justice and open innovation right here in San Francisco.

This informal event will feature short talks from guests in local nonprofits and the free culture community, as well as lots of interesting people to network and socialize with. It’s free and open to everyone.

Thursday, March 27, 2014
6:00 – 7:30 PM Pacific time
Cafe Royale, 800 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94109
Bart: Civic Center, Powell St.
Facebook invite

Speakers

Joshua Knox, Brute Labs

Joshua Knox is co-Founder and CFO for BRUTE LABS, a non-profit out to prove that anyone can do good. BRUTEs use design and technology to create sustainable social entrepreneurship. Our small, all-volunteer team has launched 11 projects around the world and across a broad spectrum of causes; from cyclone relief in Myanmar, to clean water wells in Ghana, to a bio-diesel project with Stanford. Our open source altruism has also garnered multiple design awards from AIGA and Adobe as well as partnerships with local businesses, the city of San Jose, Google, Nike, Facebook and many more.


Niki Korth, Writer and Free Culture Activist

Niki Korth is an artist, writer, and free culture enthusiast/activist who resides in the triad of the creative arts, technological literacy, and human rights. Together with Clémence de Montgolfier, she co-founded The Big Conversation Space (TBCS), an art, research, and consulting organization based in Paris and San Francisco that acts as a participatory production platform for books, media, and games involving free speech, art, technology, politics, philosophy, and the occult. TBCS has exhibited and lectured internationally at venues including Palais Tokyo (Paris), TCB Gallery (Mellbourne, Australia), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (San Francisco), and Human Resources (Los Angeles).

Their most recent projects include Letters for Bassel and The #FreeBassel cookbook, both dedicated to creative and participatory methods of advocacy for the release of CC community member Bassel Khartabil, who has been detained in Syria for the last two years. They also have a book coming out in summer 2014 titled I Can Do Anything Badly II, which uses conversational interviews to explore the intersections of DIY and Free Culture in the arts, the internet, sociology, and design.

Korth is also an advocate for trees and sustainable urban planning, and works in marketing and operations at DeepRoot Green Infrastructure, a San Francisco–based company that provides arboriculturally-oriented products and services for the built environment.

In the spirit of McLuhan but in the age of the Internet – she believes that we all own the message, humans as much as plant life. But the medium may have a mind of its own.


Supriya Misra, TeachAIDS

Supriya Misra is a Senior Project Manager at TeachAIDS, where she helps lead the development, maintenance, and expansion of TeachAIDS products. Founded at Stanford, and recognized as an innovation that will “change the world” by MIT Technology Review, TeachAIDS is a nonprofit social venture that creates breakthrough software to solve persistent problems in HIV prevention. Used in more than 70 countries, TeachAIDS provides the most effective HIV prevention software to educators, governments, and NGOs around the world – for free.

With a background in behavioral health research and expertise in innovative applications of new technologies in preventative care, she has previously worked at HopeLab and the Institute for Brain Potential, and co-authored a handbook on the neurobiological basis for forming positive health habits. She holds an M.A. and a B.A. with Honors in Psychology, with a concentration in Neuroscience, from Stanford University.



Rachel Weidinger
, Upwell

Rachel Weidinger is the Founder and Executive Director of Upwell, a nonprofit PR firm with one client, the ocean. At Upwell, Rachel leads the development of cutting edge big listening practices. She couples this big data approach with the resiliency-increasing tactic of campaigning across a distributed network to increase online attention to ocean issues. Because of Rachel’s vision, the ocean community knows the baseline of online conversation for its issues for the first time.

Previously, Rachel was the Senior Manager of Marketing and Communications at TechSoup Global where she provided marketing vision and leadership for TechSoup Global, and the TechSoup Global Network of partners in 36 countries. She has also worked with social enterprises including NTEN, Common Knowledge, the Black Rock Arts Foundation, SF Environment, Copia, and the Xtracycle Foundation.

Rachel has a B.Phil. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Miami University’s Western College Program, and completed the coursework for a masters in Arts Policy and Administration at Ohio State University. When she’s not working to save the ocean, she makes preserves, swims in the Bay, and gardens at her tiny home in San Francisco. She is obsessed with whale sharks.

1 Comment »

Proposed U.S. law would weaken and postpone public access to publicly funded research

Timothy Vollmer, March 12th, 2014

This week the US House Representatives introduced H.R. 4186, the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act of 2014 (FIRST Act). The stated goal of the proposed law — “to provide for investment in innovation through scientific research and development, [and] to improve the competitiveness of the United States — is worthy and well received. But part of the bill (Section 303) is detrimental to both existing and proposed public access policies in the United States.

According to SPARC:

Section 303 of the bill would undercut the ability of federal agencies to effectively implement the widely supported White House Directive on Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research and undermine the successful public access program pioneered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – recently expanded through the FY14 Omnibus Appropriations Act to include the Departments Labor, Education and Health and Human Services. Adoption of Section 303 would be a step backward from existing federal policy in the directive, and put the U.S. at a severe disadvantage among our global competitors.

The White House Directive, NIH Public Access Policy, Omnibus Appropriations Act, and the proposed Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) all contain similar provisions to ensure public access to publicly funded research after a relatively short embargo (6-12 months). These policies make sure that articles created and published as a result of federal funding are deposited in a repository for access and preservation purposes. In addition, the policies provide for a reasonable process and timeline for agencies to development a plan to comply with the public access requirements.

The FIRST Act would conflict with each of these practices. Instead, if enacted it would permit agencies that must comply with the law to:

  • Extend embargoes to federally funded research articles to up to 3 years after initial publication, thus drastically increasing the time before the public has free public access to this research. We’ve said before that the public should be granted immediate access to the content of peer-reviewed scholarly publications resulting from federally funded research. Immediate access is the ideal method to optimize the scientific and commercial utility of the information contained in the articles.
  • Fulfill access requirements by providing a link to a publisher’s site. However, this jeopardizes long-term access and preservation of publicly-funded research in the absence of a requirement that those links be permanently preserved. A better outcome would be to ensure that a copy is deposited in a federally-controlled repository.
  • Spend up to 18 additional months to develop plans to comply with the conditions of the law, thus further delaying the plans that are already being organized by federal agencies under the White House Directive and Omnibus Appropriations Act.

This bill is scheduled to be marked up in the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology tomorrow, March 13.

But there are better alternatives, both in existing policy (e.g. White House Directive), and in potential legislation (e.g. FASTR). Here’s what you can do right now:

  • Send a letter to members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee opposing Section 303 of the FIRST Act.
  • Use the SPARC action center to customize and send letters directly to your legislators. Tweet your opposition to Section 303 of the FIRST Act, or post about the bill on Facebook.
  • Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed for your local or campus newspaper. You can write directly to them or by using the SPARC legislative action center.
  • Share this post with your colleagues, labs, friends and family.
No Comments »

Affiliate Project Grant Update: Europe

Meryl Mohan, March 11th, 2014

This is part four of a five week series on the Affiliate Team project grants. So far, you’ve heard from our affiliates in Africa, Arab World, and Asia-Pacific. Today, we’re featuring our Europe projects, including a revived CC WordPress plugin from Finland, an awareness raising event in Dublin, Ireland, and a course for librarians and academics led by CC Romania.



Finland: WpLicense Revived
by project lead Tarmo Toikkanen

CC Finland is working on a revived Creative Commons WordPress plugin, building upon the existing official plugin built by Nathan Yergler, former CC CTO.
The renewed plugin will work in multi-author blogs with varying license needs, which displays correct author information on all pages in the license RDF, and which is localized to several languages. As an additional feature, integration with online CC-licensed image banks for searching and using figures in blog posts would be extremely useful in helping bloggers use pictures legally.
As WordPress is the most used CMS in the world, it should have robust Creative Commons functionality, officially produced by CC. The plugin would both make it easy for bloggers to share their content openly, and would educate many about CC licenses.
On February 19th, we announced an alpha version of the renewed WpLicense plugin. Download it here: https://github.com/tarmot/wp-cc-plugin/releases/tag/release-2.0-alpha
We welcome any bug reports, issues or general feedback on WPLicense on the cc-devel mailing list or as issues in Github.


Ireland: Awareness-raising Event in Dublin, November 2013
by project lead Darius Whelan

Creative Commons Ireland held an awareness-raising event in Dublin on “Maximising Digital Creativity, Sharing and Innovation” in January 2014. The event took place in the National Gallery of Ireland and was attended by 100 people working in technology, libraries, academia, galleries/libraries/museums, media and education. The speakers represented a cross-section of perspectives, and the event was an opportunity for CC Ireland to develop relationships with organisations such as the Open Knowledge Foundation, Digital Rights Ireland, and Ireland’s Copyright Review Committee. Eoin O’Dell of the Law School, Trinity College Dublin talked about copyright law reform and its impact on Creative Commons licences. The Copyright Review Committee, which was chaired by Dr O’Dell, published its proposals for change in Ireland in October 2013 (see http://www.djei.ie/press/2013/20131029.htm). O’Dell said his committee’s report had provided the first legal definition of metadata, which particularly aimed to protect the rights of digital photographers. The report also proposed that parody and linking should be allowed without any infringement of copyright, as well as a nine-point ‘fair use’ doctrine. Kristina Alexanderson of CC Sweden spoke about how she uses CC licences in her work and her work has been accessed by very large audiences as a result.


Conor McCabe / CC BY

Alek Tarkowski, European Policy Advisor, CC, discussed open policies for user rights and freedoms, and highlighted a Polish project for providing open education textbooks. Gwen Franck, CC Regional Co-ordinator, highlighted the work of CC Affiliates throughout Europe. Professor David Post, of Temple Law School, Philadelphia, USA said there were between 400 million and 800 million Creative Commons licences in use today, and Creative Commons represented people “taking the law into their own hands.” He said copyright law had “run amok,” with copyright protection running for too long and being too wide. The event was chaired by Darius Whelan and Louise Crowley of CC Ireland and the Faculty of Law, University College Cork. Photos, videos and slides are available at www.creativecommonsireland.org.

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/114281612@N04/
Videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/creativecommonsirl
Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/cc-ireland


Romania: OER Awareness Activities for Librarians and Academics in Romania
#schoolofopen

by Jane Park (project lead: Bogdan Manolea)

Many librarians and academics in Romania are not aware of or knowledgeable about open educational resources (OER) and how they can best leverage them for their needs. CC Romania, along with the Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI), the National Association of Public Libraries and Librarians in Romania, and Kosson and Soros Foundation Romania teamed up to put on a series of workshops to raise awareness among librarians and academics on the topics of open educational resources (OER), copyright, and CC licenses.
The project was launched during the National Association of Librarians and Public Libraries (ANBPR) annual conference which took place between 10-12 October 2013 in Sibiu, Romania. The presentation prepared by the team project and delivered by Andra Bucur from the Soros Foundation explained in short about copyright issues and their limits, how to apply an open license to a creation, what are open educational resources (OER) and where to find them.
From this conference, participants signed up for a series of workshops which focused on the correct attribution of the CC licenses, aspects of OER, online courses and MOOCs delivered by Bogdan Manolea from ApTI and Nicolaie Constantinescu (ANBPR & Kosson.ro).
The series kicked off in 15 November in Brașov, Romania, as part of the International Colloquium on Social Science and Communication, a social science academic event.
Subsequent workshops were held in December 2013 and January 2014 at V.A. Urechia Regional Library in Galați; at Octavian Goga Regional Library in Cluj; at Polytechnical University in Timișoara; and University Vasile Goldiș in Arad. Future workshops wil take plece in Iași and Bucharest in February 2014.
The partners of the project are also organizing a conference in Bucharest during the open education week to share the best practices on education taught, but also learned in the project.
CC Romania also attended BVCCC – the first CC Film Festival to be ever organized in Romania that took place in Brașov in November 2013. This was a great opportunity for the team to reach out to a different type of public — mostly local artists and digital content creators.

No Comments »

Open Education Week: A focus on Latin America

Carolina Botero, March 10th, 2014

On Thursday, March 14 Fundación Karisma, in collaboration with UNESCO and Creative Commons will launch the report “Public Expenditure On Education in Latin America: Can It Serve the Paris Open Educational Resources Declaration’s Purposes?”

“Human rights are not left at the door when we enter the online world.” This is the premise on which we embark on a new research project related to one of the fundamental rights under threat in a networked society: access to knowledge.

In Latin America, paper textbooks coexist with digital technologies, but for the most part these digital resources are not yet an essential part of education systems. Despite efforts to foster the pedagogical use of information technology, in Latin America there is currently more emphasis on connectivity issues. Without adequately addressing the challenges to connectivity, the educational ecosystem is wasting real opportunities to boost the adoption and implementation of appropriate technologies.

Open education promotes knowledge as a public good based on the following elements: redistribution (sharing with others), remixing (combining resources to create new content), free reuse of whole or partial educational materials with proper attribution, the ability to revise resources in order to make modifications, enhancements, and adaptations according to context, and peer reviewing to ensure resource quality.

As described in the report, the increasing availability of Open Educational Resources open up a range of possibilities for the countries of the region that are still depending on a high level of negotiations between state educational systems and the publishing industry. But while many governments do not have the technological capabilities to facilitate the realization of human rights, the recommendations of important instruments such as the Paris Open Educational Resources (OER) Declaration can be a useful tool to prompt political and social change within the educational systems in Latin America. According to the Paris OER Declaration, Open Educational Resources include any teaching, learning and research materials which are in the public domain or released under an intellectual property license that allows for free use, adaptation and distribution.

The report was commissioned by the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science in Latin America and the Caribbean. It will be released on Thursday and published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license. The report seeks to identify and analyze public policy and the investment and expenditure that the governments of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay have committed for the development and procurement of textbooks, books and digital content for primary and secondary education (K-12).

Because the purpose of Open Education Week is to raise awareness about the movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide, we invite you to be part of the webinar. The event will be a dialogue on open education issues in the region with the participation of Carolina Rossini, OER expert from Brazil, Juan Carlos Bernal from the Ministry of National Education of Colombia, and Patricia Diaz and Virgina Rodes, who are members of the Uruguayan OER community. In addition to these speakers, a Creative Commons and UNESCO representatives will join the talk, as well as the group of researchers from Fundación Karisma who developed the report.

Webinar details:

This post originally appeared via Fundación Karisma, a civil society organization based in Bogotá, Colombia. The organization supports and promotes access to information and communication technologies in Colombian and Latin American society.

No Comments »

How open licensing is transforming design

Elliot Harmon, March 8th, 2014

I’m very excited to be speaking at South by Southwest tomorrow along with Scott Belsky of Behance, Sofya Polyakov of The Noun Project, and Eric Stover of Autodesk. Each speaker represents a community of designers that use open content or licenses in some way. I’m sure it will be a fascinating discussion.

For people coming to this blog post from the talk, here are some links you might like:

After the panel, I’ll add a link to the slides.

2 Comments »

Getty Images allows free embed of 35 million photographs

Timothy Vollmer, March 7th, 2014


Kristina Alexanderson / CC BY-NC-SA

Getty Images recently announced that it will allow free noncommercial embedding of 35 million of the images in its stock photography database. This is a good step toward better supporting a variety of users. Getty is clearly seeing its images appear across the web anyway, so it’s decided to go down the embed road, similar to how other content providers like YouTube handle the media they host. By requiring embedding, Getty will be able to track where its photos are being used online, and reserves the right to display advertisements. The announcement demonstrates a general understanding that Getty needs to meet users halfway in providing content in ways that is affordable, useable, and aligned with how people wish to share online today. At the same time, users may run into roadblocks in using Getty content, and openly-licensed resources could provide a straightforward alternative.

The Getty Images terms of use say that users can “only use embedded Getty Images Content for editorial purposes (meaning relating to events that are newsworthy or of public interest)”. Creative Commons-licensed images can be used for any purpose, by anyone, anywhere around the world, as long as the user follows the terms of the license. But no CC license dictates that a piece of licensed content may only be used for a specific purpose–editorial or otherwise.

The Getty terms also state that images “may not be used … for any commercial purpose (for example, in advertising, promotions or merchandising) or to suggest endorsement or sponsorship…”. The British Journal of Photography, in an interview with Getty Images representative Craig Peters, clarifies Getty’s interpretation of the boundaries of noncommercial use.

Blogs that draw revenues from Google Ads will still be able to use the Getty Images embed player at no cost. “We would not consider this commercial use,” says Peters.

Creative Commons has maintained a static definition of noncommercial use in its licenses over the years (which has earned its share of criticism). In license version 4.0 “NonCommercial means not primarily intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.”

Another difference between the Getty Images embed service and Creative Commons-licensed images is that Getty would reserve the right to revoke its embedded photographs at any time. Its terms of use state that the “availability may change without notice. Getty Images reserves the right in its sole discretion to remove Getty Images Content from the Embedded Viewer. Upon request, you agree to take prompt action to stop using the Embedded Viewer and/or Getty Images Content.” So unlike even the most restrictive Creative Commons license (which permits verbatim noncommercial copying with attribution), Getty Images requires an HTML embed which it solely controls. When images are licensed under Creative Commons licenses, downstream users are granted more permissive rights. As stated in our Frequently Asked Questions:

The CC licenses are irrevocable. This means that once you receive material under a CC license, you will always have the right to use it under those license terms, even if the licensor changes his or her mind and stops distributing under the CC license terms.

Finally, the Getty terms prohibit uses “outside of the context of the Embedded Viewer”, which means that you can’t use the Getty images in remixes, videos, or really anywhere that doesn’t use embeds. On the other hand, CC-licensed images permit reuse in any medium. The licenses grant users authorization to exercise their rights under the license “in all media and formats … and to make technical modifications necessary to do so.”

It’s good that Getty Images is providing free online access to millions of images. But the advantages of CC-licensed photos is clear: users can’t have the content pulled out from underneath them, the images can be used for any reason in any format, and in many cases images are licensed for broad reuse and modification. And remember, there’s a huge trove of Creative Commons-licensed images out there too (not to mention millions of photographs in the public domain for use without any restrictions whatsoever!). Flickr now contains over 300 million CC-licensed photos. Wikimedia Commons hosts over 20 million multimedia files (a large proportion which are openly-licensed photographs being used on Wikipedia). Or even check out Google Images or Bing to easily discover CC-licensed images.

3 Comments »

Join us in San Francisco for Free Bassel Day

Elliot Harmon, March 7th, 2014

Bassel Khartabil is a Syrian-Palestinian computer engineer who, through his innovations in social media, digital education, and open-source web software, played a huge role in opening the internet in Syria and bringing online access and knowledge to the Syrian people. Many people reading this blog know Bassel through his work as lead for CC Syria. He was arrested in March of 2012 in Damascus, and has been detained ever since.

The second #FreeBassel Day will be held globally on March 15, marking the second anniversary of his imprisonment and the third anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian uprising.

If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, come join the SF open community on #FreeBassel Day SF at the Wikimedia Foundation offices in downtown San Francisco. In addition to sharing art, music, food, and stories about Bassel, we will be hosting a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon in honor of him. Bassel is a Wikipedian himself, so we’ll be working on writing and improving articles on topics that he cares about (and might be editing now if he weren’t in prison). Such topics include: Syria, computers, technology in the MENA region, open source web development, and peace (to name a few). Learn more about Bassel in his own words and the words of friends here and here.

No Wikipedia editing experience is necessary – just bring your laptop, and seasoned Wikipedians will be there to provide guidance in copy-editing, article creation, and sourcing. And friends and colleagues of Bassel will be there to tell you more about him and his work.

We’ll have an informal potluck, including food and beverages sourced from the #FreeBassel Cookbook V.1, a collection of recipes from friends and supporters of Bassel, collected by The Big Conversation Space and sponsored by Aerbook. Please bring something to share.

We’ll also be sharing art and media created by #FreeBassel supporters, including Disquiet Junto #FreeBassel and Letters for Bassel.

Details

No Comments »

CC Europe responds to review of EU copyright rules

John Weitzmann, March 6th, 2014

Yesterday the European CC Leads have under their regional identity CC Europe responded (PDF) to the ‘Public consultation on the review of the EU copyright rules’, run by the EU Commission through its Internal Market and Services Directorate. Like several other groups, the CC Leads have stressed the need for more robust and flexible exceptions and limitations throughout the region, especially regarding transformative uses in general and educational uses in particular. They also urge the EU Commission to find ways for copyright law in Europe to better recognize creator’s wishes to contribute to the ‘voluntary Public Domain’ through legal tools like CC0. They also highlighted once more the fact that CC Licenses are a patch for certain aspects of the copyright system but not a fix that substitutes legislative action. According to the Commission, all responses to the 80 question consultation will be published at some point in the future.

No Comments »

Affiliate Project Grant Update: Asia-Pacific

Meryl Mohan, March 4th, 2014

This is part three of a five week series on the Affiliate Team project grants. So far, you’ve heard from our affiliates in Africa and the Arab World. Today, we’re showcasing projects in our Asia-Pacific region, including open data workshops from Japan, a media studies textbook from New Zealand, and software tools and guidelines for public domain materials from Taiwan.



Japan: Workshops and Symposium for Open Data in Japan
by Puneet Kishor (project lead: Tomoaki Watanabe)

Last year in June, the CommonSphere, won a grant to hold three workshops and a public symposium on the use of CC tools (licenses and the CC0 Public Domain Dedication) in the context of open data. The aim of the workshops was to respond to informal inputs from government and other stakeholders on their implementation of CC tools in the context of open data, a new frontier of openness in the last few years in Japan. The team was planning to invite involvement from Japanese national and municipal government agencies and Open Knowledge Foundation Japan.

The first event was a workshop at Information Processing Agency, IPA, an independent administrative agency discussing open data licensing. The panel involved a member of Open Knowledge Foundation Japan as well. The whole session was video-recorded by the IPA staff, and it is now available online, along with presentation materials. The attendance was mostly government officials and the agency staff, around 50 people, and an attendant survey indicated a reasonable success.

The second meeting was held among key figures related to open data and other relevant initiatives, as invitation-only discussions on licensing and other legal issues. CCJP provided logistics support and expertise. It was decided by the attendants that the discussion will remain informal and unpublished.

The third was a symposium to discuss implementation issues of open data, including licensing issues organized by the third party, Innovation Nippon, a joint project between Google Japan and GLOCOM. Both CCJP and OKF Japan helped with pre-event publicity and provided expertise. It featured and was attended by local government officials and municipal law makers, along with business people and academics. The event was videocast and the archive is available already, along with the slides.

The team also responded to an important emerging development – Japanese national government is revising terms of use for government web sites. Creative Commons Japan’s interest has been to present benefits of interoperability with Creative Commons licenses, and ways to achieve that.

The discussion is still ongoing, and some are concerned about potential “undesirable” use of government information, which may lead to a non-interoperable terms of use. The Japanese government may lean towards more liberal and interoperable approach if a few of the following happen:

  1. Political will, however, key politicians are not necessarily expected to support liberal licensing allowing use that goes against public order.
  2. Evidence, anecdotal or scientific, showing that more liberal licensing results in better outcomes. However, such evidence is not abundant, and some government agencies have very specific uses in mind that may make them hesitate.
  3. Evidence showing other governments of developed countries are doing things differently from what Japan is doing or planning to do. UK, FR, US, AU, NZ all are CC-BY compatible or use a CC-BY license. Their licensing all seem to be open in the Open Definition sense. Japan may result a bit differently.
  4. Prospective users actively asking for a change.

The challenges faced by the team so far have been 1) the above-mentioned development away from CC tools and 2) the lack of availability of licensing and editing talent on a more stable basis.

The team is in talks with a local government to hold at least one more workshop to discuss licensing issues as they relate to local governments. The symposium was originally planned to be at the end, but given the emerging development above, it may be timed differently.


New Zealand: Media Text Hack
by project lead Matt McGregor

In the middle of 2013, a few New Zealand academics and librarians began to toss around an exciting-but-preposterous-sounding idea: what if they could hack a media studies textbook in a weekend, and then release the results to the world under an open Creative Commons license?

The social benefit – the why – was clear. With textbook prices continuing to rise (and rise) well above inflation, and student debt levels ballooning, the Pacific region desperately needs a new model for producing and distributing educational resources. As Dr Erika Pearson, who led the Media Text Hack project, put it, “Textbooks currently available for New Zealand first year students are often produced overseas, usually the US, and can have a cripplingly high price tag.”

The how was a bit more difficult. Academics and librarians are already rather busy people, and the process of building and managing a team of contributors is labor intensive, with plenty of emailing, documenting, cat-herding, and problem-solving. Thankfully, with the help of a $4000 affiliate grant from Creative Commons, the team could hire a project manager — Bernard Madill — to help build the network of contributors, document progress, and make sure the hack weekend progressed smoothly.

Cut to 16-17 November, 2013: the team, largely made up of early career researchers from across New Zealand and Australia, got together and successfully produced the ‘beta’ version of the textbook. For the last few months, they have been progressively editing and re-editing content, to ensure that the textbook is classroom ready in time for the first down-under semester, which starts in late February.

As the book is shared, edited, and reused by students and teachers across the world, the team will incorporate new ideas, explanations, and examples, producing a text that can be hacked and re-hacked over the years ahead.

This is new territory: while there have been a few textbooks hacks in other disciplines – including this inspirational group of Finnish mathematicians – this is of the first (to our knowledge) of this kind of text-hack in the humanities.

For this reason, the team is putting together a parallel ‘cookbook’, to enable other projects to understand what worked – as well as what did not work – about the project. This will be released in the first half of 2014, and will hopefully inspire other projects around the world to attempt open textbook projects of their own.

The team is hopeful that open textbooks will become more prevalent in public higher education. As University of Otago Copyright Officer Richard White, a core member of the text-hack team, puts it, the open textbook marks a return to the “core principles of academia: sharing knowledge, learning from, and building on the work of others.”


Taiwan: Practices and Depositories for The Public Domain
by project lead Tyng-Ruey Chuang

The project “Practices and Depositories for The Public Domain” (PD4PD) aims to develop software tools and practical guidelines to put public domain materials online more easily. This is a joint uptake of the GNU MediaGoblin project [1], NETivism Ltd. [2], and Creative Commons Taiwan [3], with the latter coordinating the team effort. The overall project goal is to firm up access to and reuse of the many digital manifestations of public domain cultural works by means of replicable tools, practices, and communities.

Tools: The plan is to extend the functionality of the GNU MediaGoblin software package so as to make it more suitable for hosting large collections of public domain materials. For this purpose, new features have been suggested to add to GNU MediaGoblin to help users self-hosting their media archives. These features include batch upload of media (with proper metadata annotations), customizable themes and pages, and an “easy install” script (to install GNU Media Goblin itself).

Practices: The plan is to develop guidelines and how-to on self-hosting public domain materials. Two versions are planned: One in English and the other one in the Chinese language used in Taiwan. An educational website on the public domain, and self-hosting, is also planned.

Community: The plan is to outreach to content holders in Taiwan, and to work with them in releasing some of their holdings to the public domain. It will be demonstrated by a website using the tools mentioned above.

This six-month project started in December 2013 and plans to finish in June 2014. The GNU MediaGoblin project has been focusing on tool development while NETivism Ltd. is concentrating on community outreach. Creative Commons Taiwan is working on practical guidelines. Several interns have been recruited to help with this project.

[1] http://mediagoblin.org/
[2] http://netivism.com.tw/
[3] http://creativecommons.tw/

No Comments »

A message from Cathy: Farewell for now

Cathy Casserly, February 27th, 2014

The Long Lonely Road
The Long Lonely Road / Chuck Abbe / CC BY

Dear CC Community,

I love this CC photo of the open road. It is inspiring, and speaks to me of the journey, the path one travels. You can’t quite see around the bend, but you suspect the road will take you to another intriguing place, and so you are urged on and continue to learn and explore.

And so it is with me. Tomorrow I will sign off from this section of the path. My journey with CC has had different segments, contexts, and textures. What I have found so rewarding during this leg as CEO is working closely with our deeply talented and dedicated staff, regional coordinators, affiliates, partners, and supporters.

Together, we have made tremendous progress to create a global footprint of sharing, legally. We continue to extend our reach into critical communities – learning, science, data, and culture – and educate the world about the power of open. And while we have not yet reached our collective mission, we have advanced, and will continue to do so. Here at CC, we have worked hard over the past months to ensure the CEO transition is smooth. The board has the search well underway and Paul Brest, CC board chair, has stepped up as interim CEO. My profound thanks to Paul, both personally and on behalf of the broader community, for his unyielding leadership and support.

My open journey began more than a decade ago with an arc that brought me from Hewlett to Carnegie to CC, and has most often felt like a sprint. So during the next few months, I will pause and relish more time with family and at the coast, and the opportunity to trek along remote mountain paths. After my hiatus, after what I am sure will feel like the blink of an eye, you will find me re-engaged to advance the newly emerging architecture for learning, an ecosystem no longer constrained by time, space, and pace.

Looking back on the open road, I am grateful for the camaraderie of fellow travelers energized by the challenge. And looking ahead, I await our next productive collaboration.

Until then I wish you all the very best,
Cathy

1 Comment »


Page 2 of 6123456

Subscribe to RSS

Archives

  • collapse2014
  • expand2013
  • expand2012
  • expand2011
  • expand2010
  • expand2009
  • expand2008
  • expand2007
  • expand2006
  • expand2005
  • expand2004
  • expand2003
  • expand2002