Network Strategy: the transition towards a new model

Claudio Ruiz

In June we shared our community plan to implement the new CC Network Strategy, showing the benefits of a new international structure with an enhanced Chapter model, working together at a global scale with the Network Platforms, and a new governance structure to support the network.

The Creative Commons network has always been one of the critical pieces of the success of the CC licenses. At the outset, CC was mostly a legal project trying to reach a global audience of users and creators. Years later, our community required new ways of working together, with projects and advocacy and education playing a bigger role, and enhanced means of communication and collaboration as central to the community. The new Network Strategy, written collaboratively by community members, was the primary outcome of a process for change and adaptation begun at the CC Summit in Seoul, in October, 2015.

Implementing the strategy properly, with all the needed infrastructure, has been a big task. While the first network grew organically over many years, this one is being designed deliberately on concrete timelines. It has involved our web dev staff, legal review, communications, and lots of work from the Advisory Group team. It has been more complex than anyone thought, but we’re proud of what we’ve done to bring it together. We want to get it right for all of you, and we think we’ve done significant work that will serve the network well, and avoid problems in the future.

What we have done:

  • We created a suite of documentation for the Network Strategy transition.
    • A Guide for vouching applicants. This document provides guidance about what to take into account at the moment of deciding to vouch for someone to join the Network
    • A Guide for approving new members. This guides members of the Membership Council regarding criteria for approving already vouched applicants.
    • Chapter Standards and Guidelines. This document provides a more detailed explanation of how Chapters should organize, indicating standards, responsibilities, membership, and examples of what else a Chapter can do.
    • An updated Charter. Minor updates, but we improved the language of policies and established a better way to make future changes. We also created an official version available on the CC website.
  • We built a brand-new network website and member application and management infrastructure. We have implemented BuddyPress as a backend to manage members and their applications, and we have been creating brand new plugins to support the entire process of application, vouching and approval within the website. This has been a massive project for design and development. We expect this to be the “door” for people who want to be connected with the CC community in any capacity (including membership). So, we are creating ways to make people feel welcomed and driving them to different ways to be engaged with CC.
  • We massively updated Terms of services and Privacy Policies. This was an intended consequence of the new Strategy. We created brand new ToS for the Network website and also radically changed our entire Privacy Policy, not just to comply with the requirements of the whole memberships/vouching system, but also to update it after some years of use.

All of this work is vital, but it has required us to stretch our original timelines. We will now open up memberships a bit later, and will as a result also extend the time before the first GNC meeting to allow chapters to form, meet, and select their representatives. What we are doing here is massive and will significantly grow the network. We’re grateful for all your work and energy. We want to do everything right, and we prefer to launch with everything in place and to be ready to communicate to the world what we are doing, inviting all to be part of this process.

What’s next:

  • We are shifting the timelines. We are finishing the design and backend of the Network website by mid-December. We start communicating more broadly in December and early January, and will open membership on January 15th. The window for the first Chapter meeting will be in March 2018.
  • The first Global Network Council meeting will be after the Summit — it will not be during the summit, as we had initially imagined. We will use the Summit to advance the core work of Network Platforms and Working Groups, which are open to everyone, for community discussions and chapter meetups, and to engage new members. We will also use the Summit to advance into conversations about governance and the Network. We plan to have the first GNC meeting by May/June 2018.

The Global Summit will celebrate the CC Network and the affiliate teams that built the CC community we have today. It will be a great moment to celebrate what we achieved during all these years and what brings us together, as we move into the future. We expect this Summit to be a place to share ideas and strategies to improve -and fight for- the commons at a global scale.

The new timeline means we will have more time to prepare for this big change – more time to talk with your local peers, host more meetings and conferences, and maintain better and more impactful projects. From now to the Summit, we will continue supporting activities around the globe with our Activities Fund. We encourage you to keep advocating for openness in your communities and to consider joining the network as soon as we are “open” for members.