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CC in design: expanding your team of collaborators


I’m thrilled to be speaking at Design Exchange Boston tomorrow along with Ben Einstein, Martha Buskirk, Asya Calixto, and Sofya Polyakov. I always love speaking with designers about Creative Commons because they intuitively understand the benefits of sharing their work openly. When Benjamin Franklin invited others to iterate on the Franklin Stove, he wasn’t just creating a product; he was creating a community of collaborators. And that community is still actively building on Franklin’s ideas today.

A few months ago, CC CEO Cathy Casserly spoke at the IIT Institute of Design’s Design Strategy Conference. She began her talk by laying out the three assumptions she was making about the designers in the room:

Cathy Casserly keynote, IIT Design Strategy Conference from elliotharmon
Account of the new invented Pennsylvania fire-places

Account of the new invented
Pennsylvania fire-places

Benjamin Franklin / Public Domain

Thinking about those three points – designers are good at effecting change, they’re well-positioned to effect change in their own companies and organizations, and they play well with others – an idea starts to emerge: designers can be the conduits through which their employers build better networks of collaborators. And one big way of achieving that is through open licensing.

Open licensing gives designers an opportunity to create communities of people iterating and building upon their work. These communities can be extremely valuable, both to a designer and to her clients.

But in opening your designs to be reused by others, aren’t you handing your revenue stream over to competitors? Maybe not. There’s a great profile in Open Design Now of DesignSmash, a design studio that develops products through highly collaborative hackathons. According to DesignSmash partner Enlai Hooi, “There should be no reason for preventing people with the resources to produce [our] objects from doing so. They tend to be the people most invested in how the processes of production relate to the quality of the object. They offer excellent and necessary critical feedback.”

I’d strongly recommend that anyone interested in open licensing (and open practices in general) in the design community check out Open Design Now. It’s a very fun read.

Here are some other great stories of Creative Commons in the design world:

Autodesk invites users to remix its content

Autodesk made big news back in July when it released all of its support and learning content under CC licenses. As expected, the community of designers who use Autodesk products have been building upon that content and making it an even more valuable resource.

Inspiration Pad

Inspiration Pad / Marc Thomasset / CC BY-NC-ND

Featured CC Platform: Behance

Behance is a major hub for designers and clients to find each other online. It supports CC licensing, but unlike most content-sharing platforms, CC licensing is the default. In this interview, Behance founder Scott Belsky explained to me why CC is so important to Behance’s user community: “We want Behance to be the wind at the backs of creative careers, and CC has been a primary ingredient in the growth and values of Behance.”

Fiat: The Case for Letting Your Customers Design Your Products

We featured Fiat in The Power of Open when it put out a public call for design ideas and turned all of those ideas into a concept car.

I love this quote from Carl Esposti in the Inc. story: “You may have an R&D department, but there are an awful lot of people that think about this differently or are better qualified. Tapping them as resources means that your company can come with up better ideas – and have more insight into how to exploit those ideas, test their viability, and put them into production.”

Posted 10 October 2013