On March 15, 2012, Bassel Khartabil was detained in a wave of arrests in the Mazzeh district of Damascus. Since then, his family has received no official explanation for his detention or information regarding his whereabouts. However, his family has recently learned from previous detainees at the security branch of Kafer Sousa, Damascus, that Bassel is being held at this location.
Bassel Khartabil, a Palestinian-born Syrian, 31, is a respected computer engineer specializing in open source software development, the type of contributions the Internet is built upon. He launched his career ten years ago in Syria, working as a technical director for a number of local companies on cultural projects like restoring Palmyra and Forward Syria Magazine.
Since his arrest, Bassel’s valuable volunteer work, both in Syria and around the world, has been stopped. His absence has been painful for the communities that depend on him. In addition, his family, and his fiancée whom he was due to marry this past April, have had their lives put on hold.
Bassel Khartabil has been unjustly detained for nearly four months without trial or any legal charges being brought against him. — freebassel.org
This is our statement of Support to Bassel, his family and friends.
Creative Commons supports efforts to obtain the release of Bassel Safadi, a valuable contributor to and leader in the technology community. Bassel’s expertise and focus across all aspects of his work has been in support of the development of publicly available, free, open source computer software code and technology. He pursues this not only through his valuable volunteer efforts in support of Creative Commons, but in all of his work in the technology field. Through his efforts, the quality and availability of freely available and open technology is improved and technology is advanced.
Please help us #FREEBASSEL by signing the support letter at freebassel.org.19 Comments »
Some of you may have heard about a School of Open, especially if you follow us on Twitter/Identi.ca/Facebook, or if you’re already a part of the P2PU community and follow their blog. Whether you have or not, the School of Open is still very much a concept, and one which we invite you to join in building.
What is School of Open?
The School of Open is a collaboration between Creative Commons and P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University). Its aim is to provide easily digestible educational exercises, resources, and professional development courses that help individuals and institutions learn about and employ open tools, such as the CC licenses.
Why is CC doing this?
Also known as,
Several reasons, including, but not limited to:
- Universal access to and participation in research, education, and culture is made possible by openness, but not enough people know what it means or how to take advantage of it. One solution: peer learning on what “open” means and how it applies to you, powered by mentors and learners like you, self-organized into study groups which themselves leverage existing “open” learning materials. We imagine artists, educators, learners, scientists, archivists, and other creators improving their fields via the use of open tools and materials. Eventually, we’d like to offer certification around “open” skills that result in the spread of openness.
- The CC community has often expressed a need for more community/communications support regarding best practices, explanatory materials, help generally in convincing entities (whether GLAMs, IGOs, governments) to use CC and other open tools. The School of Open is a great place for this.
- Community members have also expressed priorities regarding open advocacy and policy activities. The School of Open could be one venue for open advocates to work together to develop and provide these resources.
- In regards to content that Creative Commons itself will develop: We want to provide better education around CC tools, and we would love community appropriation and adaptation/translation of these resources.
Working with P2PU
School of Open leverages P2PU’s active peer learning platform for developing courses, challenges, and study groups. The P2PU community has been a part of the open education movement since 2009 and promoted openness to the education sector. P2PU ran a number of successful courses on licensing for educators, which will become part of the School of Open. All peer-produced resources on p2pu.org are defaulted under CC BY-SA, the same license as Wikipedia.
School of Open is hosted on the P2PU platform, but courses will also link out to other websites and use a variety of social media tools. We want people to use (open) tools they are already comfortable with. The School of Open is the umbrella under which all of these activities are to take place, a landing spot for those who want get involved but follow different tracks.
You should feel free to develop materials in your native language, especially since we want education around openness to reach all cultures and sectors of society. Depending on interest/demand, the P2PU platform may incorporate additional languages (current user interface already translated into Spanish, Swedish, and Mandarin), or as mentioned above link out to the tools/resources that are being run in your language.
What is CC doing on School of Open now?
Jane Park (that’s me) is transitioning to be Project Manager in education at CC. A major component of my new position is to establish School of Open in collaboration with the CC, P2PU, and related open communities. First thing is to lay a road and skills map for School of Open, and seed the School with a few core resources and courses. Imminent events include:
- Berlin, Germany (July 2012): School of Open month-long workshop as part of the P2PU pop-up office. Jane and P2PU community members will start mapping and developing some key components of the School. An evening hands-on event will be held Thur, 26 July in Berlin that is open to the public. You’re invited (RSVP here). If you’re nearby, please join us!
- Helsinki, Finland (September 2012): OKFestival’s Open Research and Education track includes an “Open Peer Learning: School of Open and School of Data” workshop to engage the OKFN, CC, and European open communities. Will take place Wed afternoon, 19 September before the CC Europe regional meeting to allow CC affiliates to participate.
- Palo Alto, CA, U.S. (October 2012): School of Open and Open Policy Institute convening to get key funders and representatives from the various “open” sectors on board and involved, eg. open policy, open licenses, open GLAM, open data, open science, open education, etc.
- CC affiliate regional meetings (various): discussion and/or workshop on School of Open at these meetings (led by CC Affiliate Coordinator Jessica Coates)
In addition to participating in one of the above events, feel free to:
- Sign up for announcements.
- Check out the very alpha landing page, which also has the sign-up link
- Read more about the origins
- Add to this pad your ideas for the resource, course, or challenge you want to help create
- Register for a P2PU account and create a test challenge, or just poke around
- Email me and let me know what you did, or tell me how you want to get involved: janepark [at] creativecommons [dot] org
Having been here at Creative Commons for a couple of weeks now, I’m excited to share what I’m working on this summer as a Google Policy Fellow.
A quick introduction: I’m currently a graduate student in Management Science & Engineering at Stanford University. Before moving to Northern California, I lived in the Boston area where I worked at the Learning Games Network (LGN), a nonprofit spin-off of the MIT Education Arcade. While helping to develop a foundation-funded Open Educational Resource (OER) project at LGN, I came to appreciate the possibilities that open licensing can offer innovators in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.
The project I’m working on during my ten weeks here focuses on the use of Creative Commons licenses in the world of philanthropy. Our goal is to provide best practices that will help foundation leaders implement open licensing policies and ensure that the work they fund is available for others to build upon. This follows in the footsteps of last year’s Foundation Funding: Open Licenses, Greater Impact, published by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society as an updated version of its 2009 report, An Evaluation of Private Foundation Copyright Licensing Policies, Practices and Opportunities.
As the title of the Berkman Center’s update suggests, open licensing can be thought of as a force multiplier in the context of grant-making. Sharing the digital outputs of philanthropic investments under open licenses makes their reuse easier and increases their potential impact. If grantees produce documents, materials, or other content that could be applied in different settings or remixed in unanticipated ways that offer further social benefits, why not lower the barriers to these possibilities by automatically granting others permission (i.e., open licensing) to pursue these additional uses?
While a few foundations require or encourage their grantees to use open licenses in their work, this is not yet a standard practice. Some highlight their philosophies regarding open licensing, like the Shuttleworth Foundation and the Open Society Foundations, while others mandate specific licenses for selected programs or projects, like the Next Generation Learning Challenges initiative that’s funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Creative Commons encourages philanthropic funders to help lead the way for greater use of open licensing within the nonprofit sector. To learn what works and develop best practices, we’re reaching out to foundations that have already incorporated open licensing into their grant-making processes, analyzing existing policies and the documents used to communicate them, and talking with others in the field to better understand the challenges to broader adoption. Our final output will be sample copyright licensing policies for foundations that want to establish new expectations for sharing the intellectual works they fund, while also preserving flexibility for those instances where reserving more rights might still make sense.
If you’re a staff member at a grant-making foundation and would like to learn more about this project, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Comment »
We’re happy to see so many great submissions to the Why Open Education Matters video competition. You can now view all the qualifying videos and vote for your favorite. The goal of the competition is to raise awareness of Open Educational Resources (OER) and solicit short, creative videos that help explain what Open Educational Resources are and how they can be beneficial for teachers, students, and schools everywhere around the world. The competition closed on June 5.
Our panel of judges is currently reviewing the entries and will choose the first ($25,000) and second ($5,000) prizes. The winner of the Public Choice Award will win $1,000. Click on a video to view it, read the voting instructions, and vote. Public Choice Award voting will end July 11, 2012. We hope to announce all the winners on July 18, 2012. Good luck!No Comments »
Some of these developments may be dated by a month or more, but we want to make sure they are on your radar by pointing them out here.
Several open data portals have launched, including a Brazilian Open Data portal powered by the open-source data cataloguing software CKAN (run by the Open Knowledge Foundation – OKFN). The Ministry of Planning in Brazil worked with the OKFN to develop the portal, cultivating citizen participation through an open and transparent development process. Furthermore, the portal itself carries a default license of CC BY-SA. Since its May 4 launch, the portal has grown and now hosts 79 data sets and 893 resources. As noted on the OKFN blog, “the portal is part of a larger project called the National Infrastructure Open Data, or INDA. The general idea of INDA is to establish technical standards for open data, promote training and support public bodies in the task of publishing open data. This entire process is done through intra-government cooperation and cooperation between government and citizens, always aiming to achieve a real platform for open government.”
You should also take note of the Open GLAM data portal. This portal also runs on CKAN and is a hub for open data sets from GLAM institutions, aka Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums. The datasets are licensed under various open licenses, and some with no rights attached thanks to the use of the CC0 public domain waiver.
In addition to open data portals, open data initiatives like the School of Data and the Open Data Institute are taking off. The School of Data is a collaboration between the OKFN and the Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) to “create a set of courses for people to learn how to do interesting things with data, from beginners to experts.” In late May, the School of Data held a week-long kick-off sprint in Berlin with a virtual component, which I participated in by helping to start an open data challenge with virtual colleagues. The challenge is still in development, and once completed it will be a part of the School of Open as well as the School of Data. You can help to build it at the P2PU platform.
The kick-off yielded a great foundation for many other data tracks as part of the School of Data, which you can read about here.
The Open Data Institute is an initiative by the UK government to “incubate, nurture and mentor new businesses exploiting Open Data for economic growth” and to “promote innovation driven by the UK Government Open Data policy.” £10m will be invested over five years by the Technology Strategy Board, a non-departmental public body. The UK government has published its implementation plan as a pdf online. You can learn more at The Guardian article from last May.
The data-driven economy is also a hot topic within the EU, with the emergence of a data session at the European Commission’s 2nd Digital Agenda Assembly taking place today and tomorrow. The workshop will “explore the potential of data, some of the most promising economic and business aspects involved, and discuss how policy for data and our investment in R&D can better address the challenges of businesses and the public sector and further support innovative business development.”
Lastly, to put all the current activity around data into perspective, is a thoughtful article by the OKFN’s Jonathan Gray on “What data can and cannot do.” The Guardian article reinforces the point that data, while valuable, when divorced from context and without interpretation, is not very effective. He encourages us to “cultivate a more critical literacy” towards data:
“Data can be an immensely powerful asset, if used in the right way. But as users and advocates of this potent and intoxicating stuff we should strive to keep our expectations of it proportional to the opportunity it represents.”
Essentially, opening up data is just the first step — and arguably, a necessary step to ensuring that data can be reused, contextualized, and interpreted in meaningful ways.
To learn more about how CC tools may be applied to data, see our landing page and FAQ on data.1 Comment »
The 2012 World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress is kicking off tomorrow in Paris, France. Organized by UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), the World OER Congress will encourage more governments to adopt policies that include OER and will bring together Ministers of Education/Human Resource Development, senior policy makers, expert practitioners, researchers, students and many other relevant stakeholders to:
1. Showcase the world’s best practices in OER policies, initiatives, and experts
2. Release a 2012 Paris OER Declaration calling on Governments to support the development and use of OERs
3. Celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 2002 UNESCO Forum that created the term OER
There are several ways you can participate in the congress. From 20-22 June, the congress will be livecast in two web streams:
1. The official congress featuring discussion on the Paris OER Declaration and governmental actions for OER (English stream, French stream)
- 2. A parallel stream featuring an Open Seminar & Exhibition of the world’s best OER practices, policies, and initiatives (English stream, French stream). For this stream, UNESCO will have present a digital moderator to whom you can pose questions via identi.ca or Twitter using the #oercongress hashtag.
You can also follow the congress on Twitter, join and ask questions on the OER community WSIS KC platform, and contribute to the draft Paris OER Declaration (pdf) until Thursday 21 June, 12pm Paris time by writing to email@example.com.
The complete program of sessions and speakers, and all other information, is available at the website.1 Comment »
A collective sigh of sadness went around the Creative Commons community yesterday when we heard that Elinor Ostrom passed away. Elinor is greatly admired for her pioneering studies on the governance of common-pool resources (the Commons) and collective action across the fields of economics, social science, politics and policy.
Her seminal book ‘Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action’, was published in 1990; however, Elinor’s work on common property began in the 1960s. Her studies showed that “ordinary people are capable of creating rules and institutions that allow for the sustainable and equitable management of shared resources,” and resources held in the commons may reduce potential over-use or under-investment, and so enable sustainability. At the time of publication it debunked the conventional thinking that ‘common-pool’ finite resources required ‘top down’ regulation or private ownership to maximise their utility and prevent depletion. Elinor also created the International Association for the Study of the Commons.
Creative Commons celebrated her 2009 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, and highlighted her 2003 co-authored paper contextualizing knowledge commons and the study of other commons: Ideas, Artifacts, and Facilities: Information as a Common-Pool Resource (pdf), in Law and Contemporary Problems, v.66, p.111. It includes a citation of Creative Commons, which was just about to launch its licenses at the time the paper was written:
An example of an effective grassroots initiative is that taken by the Public Library of Science (“PLS”), a nonprofit organization of scientists dedicated to making the world’s scientific and medical literature freely accessible “for the benefit of scientific progress, education and the public good” (p.126). PLS has so far encouraged over 30,888 scientists from 182 countries to sign its open letter to publishers to make their publications freely available on the web site PubMed Central (p. 127). By September 2002, there were over eighty full-text journals available at this site (p.128). Another new collective action initiative is the Creative Commons (p. 129) founded by Lawrence Lessig, James Boyle, and others to promote “the innovative reuse of all sorts of intellectual works” (p.130). Their first project is to “offer the public a set of copyright licenses free of charge,” (p.131).
Elinor’s global impact was recognized in April 2012 when she was included in Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
Our heartfelt thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Vincent Ostrom (her husband and colleague), her family, our friends at the International Association for the Study of the Commons and her colleagues at Indiana University. Thanks Elinor for pioneering a model of cooperative behavior, norms and faith in social control mechanisms that motivates our efforts at Creative Commons.2 Comments »
In other news:
World Bank logos in banner are governed by other terms and not subject to the CC BY license.
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The Open Professionals Education Network (OPEN) – led by Creative Commons – is holding a conference tomorrow for grantees of the $500 million U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program (TAACCCT) program. Grantees will learn how to openly license (under CC BY) all educational materials created under the program so that they may be freely accessed, shared and reused by anyone. CC BY is a requirement of the funding. Grantees will also be shown how to:
- use tools and techniques for improving access to their materials and universal design;
- maximise interoperability, and
- conform to best practice e-learning open standards and specifications.
Grantees will meet other grantees with similar projects for potential collaboration. Collaborating may increase the quality and speed of course development, and free up more time to adapt courses to local needs (for example to major employer needs). Collaboration is also important given many new courses are in emerging industries – such as robotics, mechatronics, health information technology, green construction, green energy and geospatial technologies – where existing materials are not as prevalent and where many projects aim to use innovative teaching tools such as virtual labs.
The conference is fully booked, which indicates strong interest in learning the best ways to enable open education practices.
OPEN includes Creative Commons, Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative, CAST, and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. It has been funded by the The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide free support to grantees to help them meet grant requirements. For more information on OPEN see http://open4us.org.
The TAACCCT program supports President Obama’s goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 by helping to increase the number of workers who attain degrees, certificates, and other industry-recognized credentials. Openly licensing the materials created under this program may create a multiplier benefit to course content and development nationwide. Benefits may include: accelerated course development and learning, improved pedagogies and retention, and broader access for citizens regardless of their location and wealth. Open licensing optimizes the impact of taxpayer funds spent on the TAACCCT grants.No Comments »
On Monday, the World Bank hosted an event called What the World Bank’s Open Access Policy Means for Development (you can view the video recording of the event at the link or embedded below). Participants included Peter Suber from Harvard University, Michael Carroll from American University (Mike is on the Board of Directors at Creative Commons), and Cyril Muller and Adam Wagstaff from the World Bank. The discussion was timely given the Bank’s recently-announced Open Access Policy and Open Knowledge Repository. We blogged about the Bank’s announcement of these two great initiatives. The World Bank’s Open Access Policy requires that all research outputs and knowledge products published by the Bank be licensed Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) as a default.
The conversation Monday revolved around the impact and potential for World Bank research — and open access in general — for development in countries around the world. For example, how will access and reuse of research under an open access policy create opportunities to solve large global challenges such as climate change and hunger?
The panelists jumped in, and stated that an immediate, baseline benefit of the open access policy is that now, World Bank research is aggregated in one place and made available for free to anyone with an internet connection. This is not the case with subscription journals, where readers have to pay to view the articles. Mike Carroll noted the importance of addressing copyright concerns in open policies. Even when research is made available for free online, if readers are unclear about the rights available to them, the articles and data will not be as valuable or impactful. This is especially important in developing nations, where republication and moving information from the Internet to an offline environment requires copyright permission. With open licenses such as CC BY chosen by the World Bank, permission to republish and translate articles into other languages is automatically granted. Carroll pointed to related success in the Open Education space. He said that many MIT Open CourseWare materials have been translated and put into use in other countries (such as Vietnam) specifically because the original resources were published under an open license that permitted translation and reuse.
Suber and Muller said that one benefit of an open access policy (especially when combined with open access to the underlying data) is that it can help validate research and work toward consensus on a particular issue, such as climate change. This in turn can help policymakers make better, research-driven decisions. Muller said that open access promotes collaboration between colleagues, even those with different skill sets and backgrounds. With this comes the increased possibility of solving complex research problems in novel ways. Muller and Wagstaff noted that the Open Access Policy would help increase the visibility, access, and reuse of World Bank documents and research. This information will help increase the audience for important Bank research and will promote cross-border transfer of information, especially in a south-south direction (as opposed to north-south).
To highlight the dire situation in pricing for traditional journals, the panelists discussed Harvard’s recent announcement about the unsustainable cost of scholarly journal subscriptions. Suber noted that even with a journal budget of $9 million per year, the Harvard University Library realizes it cannot afford the ongoing agreements with commercial journal publishers. And clearly, if even Harvard can’t afford the full range of research, every other university in the world is worse off. However, Suber said that seven of Harvard’s nine colleges have adopted exemplary open access policies, thus retaining access to the research from Harvard faculty even if those faculty publish in traditional and expensive subscription journals.
Carroll pointed to a more fundamental problem with the current scholarly publishing ecosystem. Scholars have always written to maximize impact; the web helps makes it easy to publish to wide audience, at near zero cost. The logical conclusion to these two assumptions is that all scientific and scholarly research should be widely available for free online. However, this is not how things have shaken out. Instead, prices to access scholarly research has gone up dramatically, as half of science literature has been published by commercial houses. These commercial publishers have enjoyed up to 36% profit margins, even amid the worldwide financial crisis. This points to a larger problem, and hints that the current publishing system overall is broken. However, Suber said that there are currently some for-profit open access journals that are indeed profitable. However, he guessed that the profit margins at those companies was probably closer to 2-5%.
A related question from the audience asked why a scholar would want to publish research as open access if given the chance to publish her work in a “shiny” established journal. Panelists pointed out that the World Bank Open Access policy allows authors to do both. The policy requires that authors deposit a copy of their final paper in the Open Knowledge Repository, and doesn’t preclude researchers from publishing in traditional journals. Of course, while this framework is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t solve the underlying problem because big publishers continue to enjoy huge profit margins on their access-controlled subscription journals because university libraries continue to pay for the access that their faculty require.
Suber pointed out that there are other benefits to publishing work as open access. He said that publishing in open access journals allows authors to attach open licenses (such as CC BY) to their work. When they do so, they make the work more useful to readers and users. So, the smallest open access journal has a potentially larger audience than even the most popular paywalled journal because the work can reach anyone in the world with access to the Internet. When you couple this massive potential audience with the permission to republish and reuse via an open license, authors can maximize the impact of their work beyond the reach of any closed journal.
Mike Carroll also brought up the importance of new technologies and methods such as text mining as another tool to help solve complex problems. Challenges such as climate change are huge, and can’t be tackled by researchers individually. At the same time, there is now a huge body of research articles on the subject, and scholars are facing an information overload problem. That’s where text mining comes in, and allows researchers to conduct intensive computational analyses on huge sets of scientific texts in order to identify correlations, patterns, and unforeseen connections that would be impossible to understand by reading the articles by themselves. While the traditional publishing models typically block such text mining efforts, open access gives permission in advance, helping researchers solve problems faster and promote scientific innovation. Questions around the legal implications of text mining in relation to copyright are currently being discussed in the UK.2 Comments »