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CC & Web 2.0


From last week’s email…

The key is to build alternatives that creators on the Internet can use to both create as they wish and keep control of their creativity. That’s the challenge I see over the next four years. And as we review over the next few weeks some of the best of CC from around the world, you’ll begin to see how this challenge might be met.

The story continued …

Creative Commons is a Web 2.0 tool: A protocol, both legal and technical, that enables users of the Web to create and share creativity as they choose.

Or at least, that’s the hype. How does it actually do any work? What does CC actually add to the mix?

Here’s an example emerging from Japan that I saw demonstrated just two months ago. Members of CC-JP were walking around the conference with beautiful t-shirts, each with its own slightly different design. At the bottom of each shirt were CC licensing icons. On the left sleeve of each shirt was an QR Code — a two dimensional bar code common in Japan that (most) Japanese cell phones can read and convert into a URL.

I asked the obvious question: “What do these codes do?”

These shirts, I was told, were part of a new project called “C-shirt.” C-shirt was inspired by three other Japanese sites. Once I describe these three sites, you’ll see how C-shirt makes them work together.

The first site is the most familiar. Photozou is a photo site much like Flickr. Images can be marked with CC licenses, tagged, and organized into categories, including the location from which a photo was taken. Images from Photozou can thus be moved elsewhere — consistent with the CC license — and modified.

One place they can be moved is the second site: Willustrator. Willustrator is an online drawing tool. Developed by Heisuke Kambara, the tool by default embeds CC licenses into new illustrations. And that means that the collection of illustrations at the site can be reused and remixed however users would like. The site has extraordinary drawing tools, including a Bezier drawing tool. And with these tools, anyone can drawn an image, and either share it with others or import it to another application.

Willustrator is thus a “true sharing” site, designed to enable people to move their creation away from the Willustrator site — onto a blog, into a report, or, more interestingly, to the third site that I saw demonstrated that day — Nota.

Nota is the most extraordinary Web page generating technology I’ve seen. It too builds upon Creative Commons licenses, by using assets that are CC licensed. And it offers an amazing WYSIWYG Web editing ability. Think of a large whiteboard, which can be “edited” in just the way you might “edit” a whiteboard – with a marker or with photos taped to the wall. Within Nota, you can take a photo from Photozou, or an illustration from Willustrator, and import both onto the Web page. Using a drawing tool, you can underline important text. Or you can add a background drawing or photo to change the overall look of the page. Then with a single click, a Web page is generated — again, marked with a CC license if the user selects one, and made immediately accessible to the Web.

These three sites build upon each other. C-shirt is a perfect example of just how.

Imagine you meet a friend on the street wearing a C-shirt. Using your cellphone, you take a picture of the QR Code on the sleeve. That gives you the URL to the Nota page where that image lives.

On the Nota page, you can either buy your own copy of the T-shirt, or modify its design. You can use Nota, for example, to lay out elements of the shirt, Willlustrator to edit the designs, and Photozou to import source images to add to the design. When you are finished, the Nota site will then enable you to have you T-shirt manufactured and sent to you. Or you can set up your own design for others to buy or modify as they see fit. Thus, click a button, and the shirt is produced and sent to you. Or click a button, and you can open up your own store.

C-shirt is still in Alpha. I saw it when it was just three weeks old, but even then it was already functioning, because it simply built upon the components that other CC-enabled sites had exposed.

But C-shirt is important not because it will replace Versace. It is important instead because it demonstrates the potential once we extend Web 2.0 principles to the content layer.

So far, much of the excitement around Web 2.0 has been about modular technologies that can be made to interact simply. CC makes it simple to build modular content that can be made to interact simply. A community of creativity can thus be realized when the components expressly invite this collaboration.

This is one important aim of CC: To build a simple, free, and extensible infrastructure at the content layer that enables the freedoms that the many different creative projects of the Web need to interact.

Next week we’ll see more examples like these. (And stay tuned for the official launch of C-shirt!)

This email is part of a weekly series written by Lawrence Lessig about Creative Commons. If you would like to be removed from the list, please click here. Alternatively, if you know others who might find this interesting, please sign them up here.

Week 2: Lawrence Lessig: CC Values

Week 2: CC Values – Spanish Version
Thanks to Maria Cristinia Alvite for translation

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Posted 01 November 2006