Ryan / CC BY-SA
Lumen Learning, a company founded to help institutions adopt open educational resources (OER) more effectively, just launched its first set of course frameworks for educators to use as-is or to adapt to their own needs. The six course frameworks cover general education topics spanning English composition, reading, writing, algebra, and college success, and are openly licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY).
The course frameworks were developed by the Lumen Learning team in concert with faculty members at nine institutions who worked to align the content with defined learning objectives and quality standards. By providing openly licensed course frameworks developed and vetted by experts, Lumen Learning hopes to make it easier for educators and institutions to use OER. From the press release,
“Our ultimate goal is to provide sustainable open textbook alternatives for an entire general education curriculum and even entire OER-based degree programs,” said Kim Thanos, CEO and co-founder of Lumen Learning. “We are thrilled with the interest and momentum we are seeing around OER today. It is definitely a rising tide, benefitting students, instructors and institutions alike.”
You can browse the CC BY-licensed course frameworks at http://www.lumenlearning.com/courses. Lumen Learning will also offer additional course frameworks in business management, psychology, chemistry, biology, and geography in the coming months.2 Comments »
About 400 map makers, coders, cartographers, designers, business services providers and data mungers of chiefly spatial persuasion gathered in San Francisco to “talk OpenStreetMap, learn from each other, and move the project forward.” These conference attendees are a tip of an iceberg composed of 1.1 million registered users who have collectively gathered 3.2 billion GPS points around the world since OpenStreetMap was launched in 2004 as a free, editable map of the whole world. Unlike proprietary datasets, OpenStreetMap allows free access to the full map dataset. About 28 GB of data representing the entire planet can be downloaded in full, but also is available in immediately-useful forms like maps and commercial services. OpenStreetMap is open data licensed under the Open Data Commons Open Database License (ODbL) with the cartography in its tiles and its documentation licensed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.
The program ranged from building and nurturing OSM communities, to technical wizardry, to improving infrastructure. Martijn van Exel provided an insight into the OSM community in the United States (see table below). Big countries and large areas pose challenges already in the queue to be tackled.
|land area||3.7 million sq miles|
|casual (< 100 edits)||71.0%|
|active (>100 edits, active in last 3M)||6.8%|
|power (>1000 edits, active in last 3M, active for >1Y||2.6%|
|total edits, all time||723,000,000|
|edits by top 10 mappers (incl bots and import accounts)||69.8%|
|edits by power mappers (excl most bots and import accounts)||57.3%|
Scientific authoring workflow is a beast. You keep notes on paper (hopefully, a notebook, and not just loose pages), in word-processing documents unhelpfully named “notes” followed by “notes1,” “notes2″ or worse, “notes_old,” “notes_old1.” You manage your bibliography on your desktop or on the web, you have a directory folder full of images, charts, photos and other media, and you collaborate with your co-authors by emailing attachments back and forth.
Sooner or later you start doubting your sanity but you soldier on. Finally you publish your paper, heave a sigh of relief, and move on, thereby ensuring your data can’t be reused and your work can’t be reproduced easily.
Several coders, designers, scientists, and publishers met at PLOS to brainstorm toward a better, more modern way. The Markdown for Science workshop was organized by Martin Fenner and Stian Håklev and supported by a 1K Challenge Grant from FORCE11.
Photos by Puneet Kishor, CC0 PD Dedication
While a lot of good ideas were generated, we have a long way to go. Keep an eye on this project, and better yet, pitch in with your ideas and code. Together we can tame this beast.No Comments »
On Saturday, April 27, the Creative Commons Board of Directors met at the Safra Center at Harvard. We discussed the accomplishments of the past 12 months, both in the organization and in the broader open movement, and the new opportunities on the horizon, including creating an Advisory Council to complement the Board itself.
The State of CC: 2012-13 in review
CC CEO Cathy Casserly gave an upbeat review of CC’s past 12 months. Some key takeaways:
- CC’s international network of affiliates and champions continues to grow and strengthen. Affiliates and other volunteers organized over 30 celebrations around the world for Creative Commons’ tenth anniversary as well as events, salons, and conferences year-round. Regional CC networks are becoming more energized, with regional gatherings taking place around the globe.
- Creative Commons continues to serve as a voice for open. Through new initiatives like the School of Open and the Open Policy Network, CC is helping to teach everyone from world governments to individuals about the value of open licensing.
- The open education movement is stronger than it’s ever been. In the past year, the governments of British Columbia, South Africa, the United States, and California have made major investments in OER (open educational resources). UNESCO member states unanimously approved a resolution calling for the development of quality OER.
Opportunities and Challenges Ahead: The next 12 months
The discussion then turned to the next 12 months at Creative Commons.
CC’s expanded global team will create new opportunities for collaboration and development in the CC Affiliate Network. Cathy outlined a plan to engage with the CC Affiliate Network in developing instructional resources for license users, and announced a new grant that will provide critical support for affiliate collaborations.
CC General Counsel Diane Peters led a discussion about the forthcoming version 4.0 of the license suite, explaining how the new licenses will address several important issues in interoperability and internationalization.
CC Director of Product Strategy Dan Mills laid out his plan to develop a new set of products that will make it easier for users to mark and attribute CC-licensed content, while letting licensors interact with people who reuse their works. Glenn Brown and Lawrence Lessig agreed to serve as advisors to the project development pipeline.
New Directions for CC’s Board
Finally, we discussed the future of CC’s Board of Directors. As the program areas in which CC works have grown and shifted, the demands on the Board have changed too. We agreed on a plan to establish an Advisory Council that would advise and critique the overall CC strategy, complementing and expanding the Board. We will conduct a search for new Board and Advisory Council nominees with key expertise and skill sets. Part of the search process will include an upcoming open call for nominations for our Board of Directors and for our new-to-be-formed, Advisory Council. We hope you’ll actively put forward candidates.
This was my second in-person Creative Commons Board meeting, and it reaffirmed my pride in being chair for an organization that is shaping the future. I speak for everyone on the Board when I see we’re excited about the changes and challenges to come in the next few years.No Comments »
Gwen Franck / Gwen Franck / All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons has volunteer teams in over 70 countries, including 35 in Europe, all of whom work to support and promote the adoption of CC in their local jurisdictions and advise CC’s work globally. The role of the Regional Coordinators is to support and foster these communities in their regions. We’ve had a Regional Coordinator in Europe for a few years, but this will be the first time we have two for the region, significantly increasing their capacity.
John is not new to the CC community, and in fact has been a leader in Europe for many years as the Legal Lead of CC Germany. Based in Berlin, he is also a Partner of iRights.Law, an IP and media law firm, and is a well known writer and speaker on open issues as part of iRights.Lab.
Gwen is newer to Creative Commons, but is still known to our community through her work with the OpenAIRE project, providing access to research across Europe. She has also worked on Open Access Belgium and TEDxGhent. Her background is in community management, international relations and research.
Jonas Oberg / Mathias Klang / CC BY ND
With this announcement, I also bid a sad farewell to Jonas Oberg, who has been our European Regional Coordinator for almost two years now. Jonas has done a great job of supporting our European community, organizing multiple regional meetings, working with individual teams and taking a lead in everything from grant applications to collaborative activities. We are extremely grateful for Jonas’ time with us, and very glad that he will continue to be part of our broader community in his new Shuttleworth Fellowship looking at automated attribution for open objects.
Join me in farewelling Jonas, and welcoming John and Gwen to their new roles.No Comments »
This guest blog post was written by Nic Suzor.
What do Amanda Palmer, a book on storytelling in Africa, and particle physics have in common? That’s what I’d like to find out.
My name is Nic Suzor, and I am a researcher at QUT School of Law and the Centre for Creative Industries and Innovation in Brisbane, Australia. I have just spent two weeks in the Creative Commons offices in Silicon Valley, kicking off a research project that seeks to understand the role of voluntary collective action in funding and coordinating free cultural works.
Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo allow creators to turn directly to their audience to support their next project. Sometimes, crowdfunding looks similar to traditional business models, except consumers pay up-front. Other times, though, crowdfunding gets really interesting. Some people are using these new models in ways that shake the very foundations of copyright and our assumptions about how society can fund free cultural works in a way that is both fair and sustainable.
In a highly publicised campaign, Amanda Palmer raised nearly $1.2 million for her new album and tour last year. The album, Theatre is Evil, is now available on her website under a CC BY-NC-SA license.
Also last year, 257 people came together to publish a new, free version of an important research book, Ruth Finnegan’s Oral Literature in Africa. The book was out of print, and its high original retail price meant that it was not available to research communities in Africa who needed access. This is a rapidly growing problem – the costs of research books now average around $100, and many books only sell around 300 copies. There is an awful lot of academic knowledge that has become inaccessible because it has gone out of print or been priced too high for libraries, individual researchers, and the public. Unglue.it provides a crowdfunding platform to tackle part of this problem, by providing a way for people around the world to contribute to the costs of open access publishing. Donors from around the world raised $7,500 to “unglue” Ruth Finnegan’s classic book, which is now available under a CC BY license.
CERN, the organization behind the Large Hadron Collider, is now tackling open access on a much larger scale. The SCOAP3 project, led by CERN, has brought together over a thousand research libraries and funding bodies in particle physics to flip the entire field of particle physics journal publishing to an open access CC BY license. By redirecting existing library budgets, the consortium provides an opportunity to sustainably fund the costs of publishing while, at the same time, making the research journals available to the world at no cost.
These — and many more — experiments are examples of what Peter Suber calls “peaceful revolutions” in publishing. In traditional models, the costs of production are met by publishers who then need to recoup their costs by selling copies of the finished work to consumers. These models invert that process by securing the required funds in advance, which then enables the authors to make the final work freely available for all to use and remix.
What’s particularly fascinating about these experiments is that conventional copyright wisdom suggests that they shouldn’t work. Copyright exists because we believe that users are generally free-riders — without the ability to restrict access to paying customers, publishers would not be able to recoup their costs. These models show that there are circumstances where people (and organisations) are willing to pay to support the production of new works and new knowledge, even when they don’t have to.
It’s now time to start trying to collect all of these experiments in new models of free and open cultural production together, to examine them within a common framework*. While there are many, many individual projects, we still don’t really understand how they all work. We do not yet have enough good data about how communities come together to create large projects. We don’t really understand what conditions make cooperation possible, and when it doesn’t work. We know little about the complex processes of negotiation, the development of social norms, that allow people to work together. And most importantly for my work, we don’t understand what fairness means in these types of relationships. Fairness in a traditional copyright market is relatively straightforward — people are paid according to the amount of copies they sell (even if the copyright system achieves fairness only on average). Fairness without exclusivity, though, is much more complicated — when do fans, creators, producers, patrons, consumers all feel like they have reached a good deal? When do people feel exploited? What is it, in all of these relationships, that limits free-riding, and how generalizable are any of the answers to these questions?
I am always looking for collaborators on these questions. If you want to help, have suggestions about new case studies, or comments about any of this, please let me know by posting below or contacting me directly at email@example.com. For more information, I also have a paper that explains the theory and beginnings of this research project: Nicolas Suzor, “Access, progress, and fairness: rethinking exclusivity in copyright” 15(2) Vand. J. of Ent. & Tech. L. 297 (2013) (PDF).
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite new examples: commonly.cc, a fascinating project by Nick Liow which aims to provide a general crowdfunding platform to release art and music into the public domain (CC0). In its first trial a few weeks ago, Commonly.cc raised $1000 in just a few days to release a bundle of game art assets, and I am really looking forward to seeing what they come up with next.
* The framework I am adopting for this research is based on the work of Elinor Ostrom and others in examining natural resource commons. The Institutional Analysis and Design framework, as adapted for “constructed cultural commons,” provides a useful tool through which to examine a wide range of unique case studies.1 Comment »
Creative Commons has grown tremendously since we started. As we approached the milestone of our 10th birthday, and with a new CEO on board, we began an intensive review of our progress and priorities. Sometimes you need to use big milestones to stop and see where you are, and occasionally you find that decisions made to meet immediate demands don’t always hold up against long-term ambitions. The world is changing pretty quickly, and to remain effective, CC needs to do more than just keep up.
During our review, we spent a lot of time asking questions and listening to our Affiliate Network members around the world. We hired some consultants to help run a process and to talk to people outside of the organization about how they viewed the role of Creative Commons. As navel-gazing goes, we gave it a solid effort. We also realized how important it is to declare our mission, vision, and priorities for action. The resulting publication, The Future of Creative Commons (2.7 MB PDF), lays out priorities for each area in which we work. These overall priorities are already guiding staff in how they use their time and set targets for each program area. They also give us a good base to measure how well we are doing.
As a companion piece, we offer this annual report, Dispatches from the Commons. In it, we call out some of the big accomplishments of the past year and highlight organizations and people who are doing powerful and innovative things with our licenses.
The whole process of evaluating our place in the world and projecting our ambitions for the future repeatedly reminded us of how much we rely on supporters, allies, and friends. Creative Commons is a small staff connected to the whole world through our affiliates and a global community of open advocates, volunteers and creators. Only together are we Creative Commons. You are a powerful engine for change that seems to run on an endless supply of renewable energy!
We hope that this strategy document and annual report help you understand where CC is headed and where you can play a role. Thanks for your sharing. Thanks for your support. Thanks for coming along on this amazing ride.10 Comments »
After passing through the Assembly Appropriations Committee last week (with bipartisan support), California’s Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act (AB 609) will now reach the Assembly floor for a vote this week. If the proposed bill passes the Assembly, it will move to the California State Senate.
To recap, AB 609 would require that the final peer-reviewed manuscript of research funded through California tax dollars be made publicly available within 12 months of publication. If passed, AB 609 would be the first state-level bill requiring free public access to publicly funded research.
The Association of American Publishes attempted to scuttle the bill by sending a letter filled with inaccurate, misleading information. However, public access advocates made their voices heard to appropriations committee members, again correcting the FUD spread by entrenched publishing interests.
If you’re a California resident, you can contact your Assembly member now to ask that they support AB 609.No Comments »
If you subscribe to Creative Commons’ newsletter or follow us on Twitter and Facebook, you’re likely familiar with the story of Bassel Khartabil, our friend and longtime CC volunteer who’s been in prison in Syria since March 2012. Today, on the second birthday that Bassel has spent in prison, friends of Bassel and members of the open community are taking a moment to reflect on his situation and call for his release.
The Index on Censorship, which honored Bassel in March with the Digital Freedom Award, has compiled a collection of birthday wishes for Bassel:
I just want him free, I pray for him to be free and I pray for all his friends who believe and work on Bassel’s freedom. – Bassel’s mother
It is your birthday. It is not a day of happiness — yet. But when justice is done, and you are released from your wrongful imprisonment, all of us will celebrate with enormous happiness both this day, and every day that you have given us as an inspiration for hope across the world. – Larry Lessig, founder of Creative Commons
Our friend Jon Phillips, organizer of the #freebassel campaign, has launched a project called FREEBASSEL SUNLIGHT. In Jon’s words, “Please help shine some sunlight on Bassel by doing some novel research on his situation, where he is located, and help connect the dots of his situation and life.”
Artist and filmmaker Niki Korth recently developed a game that uses quotations from Bassel to start conversations about free and open communication, the conflict in Syria, and other topics. Niki has been publishing the playing cards online as well as videos of people playing the game.
Earlier this week, Niki led a few of us at CC in the game. You can watch our responses to several of her questions on her Vimeo page.
In this video, CC CEO Cathy Casserly voices our shared hope that we’ll see Bassel soon:
Read more3 Comments »
This week we have two exciting announcements about our Global Summit, the bi-annual gathering of our community which will be held in Buenos Aires in August 2013.
First – we are pleased to confirm that Professor Lawrence Lessig, Roy L. Furman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and one of Creative Commons’ founders and current Board members, will be presenting a keynote at this year’s Summit. Anyone familiar with Creative Commons is likely to be familiar with Professor Lessig, who for the last decade has been one of the leading advocates for a more open copyright system worldwide and a popular public face of CC. If you are one of the few people who are unfamiliar with Professor Lessig’s work, you can see an example of his inspirational speaking style in his TED talk from 2007, Laws that choke creativity (he also spoke on reform of US political funding in 2013). Details of the time and subject of Professor Lessig’s talk will be distributed closer to the event.
Second – registration for the Global Summit is officially open. You can find the registration form here. The event is free, but places are limited, so early registration is essential if you want to ensure your place at this meeting of CC commmunity, board, staff, and key stakeholders interested in the present and future of the commons.
Finally, while we have you, we’d also like to remind you that the call for papers for the Summit closes this week. Have you papers in by 24 May if you want to be on the main program (lightning talks and unconference sessions can be submitted later).
See you all in Buenos Aires in August!2 Comments »