A prominent member of the open education community, Stephen Downes is a researcher, blogger, and big thinker in open education and access related issues. He frequently debates with other open education advocates via the medium of the Internet, once in a while meeting up in person at conferences to hash out more of the same. I thought I might capture his slice of insight into the future of open educational resources and how he views them evolving in an ideal world.
So I caught up with him via Skype; and though different operating systems and timezones may have jumbled some of our conversation, I was still able to catch most of his words, if not the heart of his views. Below is our chat transcribed, in more or less the same fashion as it progressed.3 Comments »
Last month, ccLearn published “Otherwise Open: Managing Incompatible Content in OER“. For those of you who never got around to reading the paper, it basically provides an overview of the problem posed by the incorporation of “all-rights-reserved” materials into otherwise open educational resources (OER). It also explores ways of dealing with this problem and the trade-offs involved in relying on jurisdictional copyright exceptions and limitations, such as fair use or fair dealing. As the paper is intended to spur further inquiry and research globally, “Otherwise Open” does not offer concrete solutions to the problem right now.
However, the average OER creator cannot afford to wait, especially if they value their work as part of a global learning commons. In order for OER to be global, the copyright of the OER must be viable across jurisdictions. OER that are available under a CC license are global, as CC licenses are effective worldwide. But the inclusion of third party content that is not under the same terms of the license changes the global nature of OER, potentially walling it off from use in other countries. Thus, ccLearn has developed some practical recommendations and alternatives for those OER creators who are concerned with the global reach and impact of their works.
“Open Educational Resources (OER) are defined by the use of a Creative Commons license and are generally created by those who would like to share their work globally. However, some creators find the need to consider the costs and benefits of incorporating third-party materials with incompatible licenses into their “otherwise open” OER. This document recommends ways of managing or avoiding the problems that will arise.”
This and all ccLearn Recommendations and productions are licensed CC BY.Comments Off
Richard Giles, a social media specialist in Australia who frequently posts and CC licenses photos on Flickr, received a threatening letter from the International Olympic Committee last week, mentioning a set of photos he had taken at the 2008 games in Beijing.
Giles posted a rundown of the story so far on his blog. It is not clear the situation is resolved yet, and initially there was confusion about which photos or licenses are at issue, but there are many worthwhile posts about it to check out, including these:
- Olympics threaten photographer by Mathias Klang (of CC Sweden), who points out in passing that there are now over 120 million CC licensed photos on Flickr — a 20% increase in 6 months.
- Go To The Olympics? Take Photos? Put Them On Flickr? Await Olympic Committee Legal Threat Letter on Techdirt by Mike Masnick.
- International Olympic Committee Goes Copyright (& Trademark) Crazy on The Moderate Voice by Joe Windish.
- Wikipedia and Olympics Committee heading for collision? by Sage Ross, who points out that Giles’ photo(s) likely came to the attention of the IOC indirectly via English Wikipedia, where one of Giles’ photos is currently used in the Usain Bolt article.
Regarding Ross’ post, of course the UK merchant that used the photo in an advertisement that eventually attracted the IOC’s notice may have discovered the photo directly on Flickr as well. In either case, the value of moving to a more liberal license if you want your works to spread is highlighted — Giles’ Usain Bolt photo is under CC Attribution-ShareAlike, while his other Beijing photos are under CC Attribution-NonCommercial.
Whatever the resolution of this particular dispute, there’s no question that the IOC’s attempt to control how photographers use their own photos is symptomatic of the permission culture and tragedy of the anticommons we are facing. Creative Commons can’t directly influence the IOC’s policies, but we’re creating an alternative to ensure a non-gridlocked future of creativity and innovation, an alternative that offers benefits to those who participate in the commons now, and whose successes will change minds. Please support us — we’re in the midst of our 2009 campaign to raise $500,000 to fund this work.
The photo at the top of this post by Richard Giles is not of the Olympics, but does look fun. Note that even such an innocuous photo could be under threat as we move in the direction of a permission economy — building owners attempt to control public photography, why not balloon owners or designers? Give now. ☺5 Comments »
The Software Freedom Law Show, Episode 0x16 contains numerous bits of interest to CC geeks and is well worth a listen. The show’s hosts, Karen Sandler and Bradley Kuhn of the Software Freedom Law Center, discuss among other things:
- How the GFDL turned out suboptimally — a key point is that developing good public licenses is very hard, the the GFDL was one of the very first for software documentation or other non-software works.
- The migration of Wikipedia and sister projects from GFDL to CC BY-SA, successfully completed this June.
- The importance of public license stewardship by mission-driven nonprofits — Bradley Kuhn’s writing on stewardship has been noted previously on this blog.
- The license used for the show itself, which is CC BY-ND.
- A promise to talk about the public domain and specifically CC0 in a future episode. Looking forward to it.
One quick addendum to the show, in which the hosts wonder if CC has a public versioning process. The answer is yes — see a a list of CC blog posts over the course of development of our 3.0 licenses. The next, eventual versioning will be even more public and rigorous, just as the GPLv3 had a development process far more in depth than that of any public software license that preceded it.Comments Off
I’m happy to announce the launch of this year’s Commoner Letter series – a series of letters written by prominent members of the CC community in support of our annual fundraising campaign. We want to be very clear that this campaign is about much more than raising money for CC. At the heart of it all is the crucial effort to build awareness for CC and spread the word about the importance of online sharing and participatory culture as far and wide as we possibly can.
For that reason, I am proud to say that the first Commoner Letter comes to you from Mohamed Nanabhay, the Head of Online, Al Jazeera English. Mohamed and Al Jazeera have done incredible work this year helping to build the commons and spread CC’s mission on an international level. As many of you know, earlier this year Al Jazeera launched a Creative Commons repository, which houses raw footage available for anyone to share, repurpose, and remix. We’re honored to have such a fervent supporter in Al Jazeera, and I hope you enjoy reading Mohamed’s personal story of why he values Creative Commons.
If you’re interested in receiving the remaining five Commoner Letters directly to your inbox, I encourage you to subscribe today.
Dear Creative Commoner,
This has been a big year for the Al Jazeera Network and our use of Creative Commons. In January we launched the world’s first repository of broadcast quality video footage released under a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution (CC BY) license. At the time we made select Al Jazeera video footage – initially, footage of the War on Gaza – available for free to be downloaded, shared, remixed, subtitled and eventually rebroadcast by users and TV stations across the world, under the condition that they attribute the material to us.
A large part of embracing free culture is accepting the fact that you are forsaking control in exchange for something greater – the empowerment of the creative community. This means that you never quite know where things will lead. When launching our repository, we had thought that it would be a key resource for anyone producing content on the war and that it would primarily be used by other news organisations and documentary filmmakers.
What we saw was both surprising and delightful. Soon after posting our first video, Wikipedia editors had extracted images to enhance the encyclopedia entries on the War on Gaza. Soon thereafter educators, filmmakers, videogame developers, aid agencies and music video producers all used and built upon our footage. We were encouraged by the warm reception with which our content was received by the free culture community.
Joichi Ito, CEO of Creative Commons said at the launch, “Video news footage is an essential part of modern journalism. Providing material under a Creative Commons license to allow commercial and amateur use is an enormous contribution to the global dialog around important events. Al Jazeera has set the example and the standard that we hope others will follow”.
Being part of a community goes beyond the launch of a single project – it involves long term commitment and shared values. Our association with Creative Commons goes back to 2007 when Lawrence Lessig, the founder of Creative Commons, delivered a keynote address at our 3rd Al Jazeera Forum in Doha, Qatar, where he challenged us to make our content freely available in order to further the values of free speech. This was a challenge that we took seriously – in addition to our Creative Commons Repository, we also make a large part of our output freely available on our YouTube channel.
After the launch of our Repository we co-hosted a workshop with Creative Commons on “Building Successful Media Projects in Open Networks,” which was moderated by Creative Common’s CEO Joichi Ito. This workshop was broadcast live throughout the Middle East as part of our 4th Al Jazeera Forum held in March 2009, which was an international gathering of nearly 200 journalists, analysts, academics, and intellectuals.
While having successfully reached out to new audiences through Creative Commons licensing, the real endorsement of what we achieved was in this note by Lawrence Lessig:
“Al Jazeera is teaching an important lesson about how free speech gets built and supported. By providing a free resource for the world, the network is encouraging wider debate, and a richer understanding”.
Working with Creative Commons has been an enriching experience. We are thankful for all the help, advice and assistance that we received along the way from Lawrence Lessig, Joi Ito, and the rest of the wonderful team that works to spread free culture.
The unintended collaboration that arose as a result of our video repository, and its positive reception worldwide, would not have been possible without the help of Creative Commons licensing. We support this effort because we have witnessed, and continue to witness, the benefits of contributing to and strengthening the digital commons. In whatever capacity you are able, I hope you will also support CC by contributing to this organization and by adding to the commons. I urge you to go forth and license!
Head of Online, Al Jazeera English
DJ Vadim and Creative Commons are celebrating ccMixter‘s fifth anniversary with Secret Mixter October ’09. In this event, the 6th of its kind on ccMixter, starting today, musicians and singers sign up to have their name put into a virtual hat. After the two week sign-up period, everyone is notified, in secret, with a remix assignment. They then have two weeks to do a remix of their
assignment. On November 4th, everybody will upload their remix – including Vadim!
DJ Vadim has long been a strong proponent of including his fans in the musical experience. He has been sharing the full studio stems and a cappellas to his albums on ccMixter.org for several years. In early 2009, in advance of his album “U Can’t Lurn Imaginashun,” he gave a featured commoner interview where he said
“…releasing music is communication. Nowadays, that means participation and that is what ccMixter offers. It is a combination of the two, letting fans and music people participate and communicate together, with you, with me and create new music and ideas.”
With his participation in the Secret Mixter, Vadim is making the ultimate statement about what it means to communicate with his fans.
Come and join the ongoing musical conversation of the Commons at the Secret Mixter October ’09 – you never know who’s going to remix you.Comments Off
A little over two years ago award-winning novelist Jon Evans released Beasts Of New York, a self-described “children’s book for adults”, online and for free under our Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license. He chose this license to help facilitate sharing, a decision we elaborated upon previously:
Evans wanted to write and release a novel his publishers found unmarketable. As he puts it, “try to imagine telling people with a financial interest in your writing success that you want to write a whole book about a squirrel”. Evans saw CC-licenses and online publishing as a means to allow his work be read freely, while at the same time retaining potential commercial avenues for the book (Evans “cautiously expect[s] [Beasts of New York] to eventually find a publisher”).
It is now apparent that Evans’ optimism was well merited – Beasts of New York will see a physical release through Canadian literary press The Porcupine’s Quill early next year, largely based on the online traction the novel received. Beasts of New York has been downloaded legally around 6,000 times from Feedbooks and Manybooks and has become Evans’ most-popular and highest-rated book on Goodreads.Comments Off
AcaWiki, a project I briefly mentioned in Opening Education–the little things you can do, launches this week. Dubbed as the “Wikipedia for academic research,” AcaWiki’s mission is “to make academic research more accessible and interactive” by “[enabling] users to easily post and discuss human-readable summaries of academic papers and literature reviews online.” Founder Neeru Paharia (a doctoral candidate at Harvard Business School) explains that “cutting-edge research is often locked behind firewalls and therefore lacks impact. AcaWiki turns research hidden in academic journals into something that is more dynamic and accessible to have a greater influence in scholarship, and society.”
From the press release,
“AcaWiki’s work follows on the work of open-access publishers such as the Public Library of Science, as well as on the tradition of using new media to create public dialogue with science. Currently, it can cost up to $35 to download an academic paper—a significant cost, especially because thorough research on any topic usually entails downloading many papers. AcaWiki’s approach takes advantage of the fact that copyright does not apply to ideas, only to the written expression of those ideas. Scholars can thus post summaries of their or others’ research online as long as they are not copying verbatim beyond what fair-use laws permit. John Seely Brown, former head of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center and a leader in the open education movement, says, “AcaWiki complements [the movement’s] work and opens a whole new dimension of making research accessible to the public.”
Like OpenEd, AcaWiki is “built using Semantic MediaWiki, combining the sophistication of the semantic web with the ease-of-use of a wiki. The site enables comments, discussion, user profiles, and tagging.” All AcaWiki content is available via CC BY.
AcaWiki also has some supporters in common with ccLearn and CC. Not only is AcaWiki starting with seed funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, but its board members include Mike Linksvayer, vice president of Creative Commons, and John Wilbanks, vice president of Science Commons.Comments Off
Today marks the launch of Creative Commons’ 5th Annual Fundraising Campaign. This year, more than ever before, it is vital that we all support choice and sharing online. Truly, everyone benefits from a free and open internet, and we have only just begun to see how beneficial a culture of sharing can be.
We are reshaping history as we speak. Millions of CC supporters across the globe – creators, consumers, and advocates – have shown that they believe in the importance of universal access to information online. If we want future generations to enjoy the kind of rich culture that we all deserve, we must invest today in the future of creativity and knowledge.
This year we have set an ambitious goal of raising $500,000. To kick start our fundraising efforts, we are thrilled to announce a special-edition remixed Creative Commons T-shirt, designed by Shepard Fairey. Fairey is widely known for his ability to build off both his own work and the work of others to create something new and wholly unique, a quality that resonates deeply with CC’s mission.
We are a non-profit organization, and as such we are all too familiar with the challenge of securing the resources we need to continue our work. We’ve been inundated with news regarding how difficult it is to raise money in today’s economic climate. However, CC doesn’t see this as an obstacle; we see it as an opportunity – an opportunity to call communities across the globe to action.
This campaign is not exclusively about fundraising; it’s about supporting CC – as the original architects of the licenses so many have come to rely upon, and an organization whose mission you value and uphold – in whatever manner you are able. Help spread the word about CC, start or continue licensing your work and using licensed work, and/or give what you can. Any amount helps and all is greatly appreciated.4 Comments »
Wikis Take Manhattan is a scavenger hunt and free content photography contest aimed at illustrating Wikipedia and StreetsWiki articles covering sites and street features in Manhattan and across the five boroughs of New York City.
Scheduled for Saturday, October 10, 2009, this event will be a sequel to the spring 2008 Wikipedia Takes Manhattan (WTM-1) and last fall’s Wikis Take Manhattan (WTM-2) event. Check out the hoppin’ Wikipedia page for full details.
The day will be sponsored by Free Culture @ Columbia, the Columbia University chapter of Students for Free Culture, in cooperation with Free Culture @ NYU, The Open Planning Project, Wikimedia New York City and Wikipedia volunteers.
If you’re attending, make sure to register online here.
All Wikipedians and non-Wikipedians are invited to participate in teams of up to three (no special knowledge is required at all, just a digital camera and a love of the city).Comments Off