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Her Story: Facing Our Greatest Challenges

An illustration of a little girl on a swingset

Seeing is Believing” by Linoca Souza, licensed CC BY-NC-SA.

For over 40 years, millions across the globe have collectively celebrated the achievements, histories, ideas, and contributions of women on March 8 and increasingly, throughout March for Women’s History Month using #HerStory and #BecauseOfHerStory. This year, we wanted to do something special to celebrate this annual event, so we reached out to several members of the Creative Commons Global Network and the broader open community to ask them to share their personal stories, ideas, and insights by responding to five questions. The result is this five-part blog series called, “Her Story.” Throughout this series, we’ll also be highlighting the work of women artists who submitted pieces to Fine Acts’ Reimagining Human Rights challenge. 

Our hope is that these conversations will inspire you to reflect on your own stories and ideas. We also hope it will motivate you to think about how you can help make open sharing more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable. Put simply, we want to make sharing better—to do that, we need your help.

In part two of this series, participants responded to the following questions: What is the biggest challenge facing the open movement today? And what’s the solution?

Je pense que notre plus gros challenge aujourd’hui est de parvenir à rester pertinent au regard des évolutions actuelles, quelles soient technologiques ou sociétales. Par exemple prendre en compte la fragmentation des réseaux et les actes de censure qui limitent la libre participation et la libre circulation des contenus. Ou par exemple être capables de donner accès aux informations sous différents formats technologiques, faciliter le partage d’information entre plateformes. Par exemple améliorer l’expérience utilisateur-trice, en fournissant un service respectueux des besoins de chaque personne. A beaucoup d’égard, notre mouvement était très novateur il y a 15-20 ans. Est-ce toujours le cas aujourd’hui ? On ne peut sans doute pas rivaliser avec les innovations technologiques des GAFA, mais notre mouvement est certainement capable de montrer le chemin et inspirer sur le plan humain au regard d’innovations liées à notre fonctionnement collectif.

EN: I think that our biggest challenge today is to remain relevant with regard to current developments, whether technological or societal. For example, take into account the fragmentation of networks and acts of censorship which limit free participation and the free circulation of content, or being able to provide access to information in different technological formats or facilitate the sharing of information between platforms. For example, improving the user experience by providing a service that respects the needs of each person. In many ways, our movement was very innovative 15-20 years ago. Is this still the case today? We can undoubtedly not compete with the technological innovations of GAFA, but our movement is certainly capable of showing the way and inspiring people on the human level with regard to innovations linked to our collective functioning.

Volunteerism and Eurocentrism—the idea that if someone loves doing something they can do this for free—is unsustainable and exploitative, to say the least. There is also more recognition for white men in anything open culture and this to me considers that they’re more knowledgeable and important to the movement; I say every day that for every one brilliant white man you know in the open movement, there are at least ten brilliant Black women doing the same thing without receiving any recognition or support because of this white exceptionalism.

There are many challenges in the open movement. I guess the most prominent ones today are equity and diversity. Equity in access to knowledge and diversity in terms of language and communities. The COVID-19 pandemic proved how large the gap is in access to knowledge around the world but also proved the status quo can be changed if challenged. A short, great article on this is available here.

Uno de los retos es luchar contra la idea “individualista” de “autor único” que crea solo, por que no nos permite ver que se “crea” en comunidad y para los demás. La solución podría ser, hacerle ver al mundo que pensar en “comunidad” nos beneficia más. “Soy por que somos”

EN: One of the challenges is to fight against the “individualistic” idea of a “unique author” who creates alone because it does not allow us to see that they are “creating” in a community and for others. The solution could be to make the world see that thinking about “community” benefits us more. Put simply, “I am because we are.”

The open movement has come so far in the nearly 10 years since I have been officially involved. Ultimately the open movement is a brave new world—so different from the corporate mindset. Like anything new, it has had teething problems and difficulties settling. Perhaps the elements that have been holding it back are those very elements that make it so powerful: the multiple voices, needs, and requirements that all the various and diverse stakeholders have. The strategic discussions that have been happening among some of the major players are definitely helping to drive the movement beyond its awkward teenage years.

With regards to individual involvement, I think the main challenge is still the lack of multiple fun and engaging pathways open to people so they can see how they can benefit personally or professionally. Most people still come to the movement through word of mouth or professional advancement. Across Africa, there is still a lot of confusion and a lack of applied knowledge around copyright and the open movement. So much more could happen if people understood the benefits and applications better. I would encourage greater visibility drives at the national and thematic level with fun ways to engage with and adopt the many open movement tools and resources that are available. Local aligned open organisations, affiliates, and chapters should work together more towards this aim.

The internet has changed—new challenges have emerged that divide our attention. The environment is much more complex than it was 20 years ago in terms of business models for the entertainment industry, new controls over users, and the opaqueness of injustices in the knowledge ecosystem. I think our message used to be simpler and clearer.

However, the open movement has crucial solutions for many of the issues we are facing today, such as misinformation, walled gardens, online violence and discrimination, and geopolitical inequalities in the digital environment. Thankfully, many people in the open community have realized this. We must face these problems boldly and proactively—and make the connections to openness crystal clear. Free knowledge and culture are at the center of the digital transformation agenda and are critical for overcoming global inequalities in the information era.

The biggest challenge in my opinion is the fear by content creators that they won’t be able to realise royalty for their creations if their work is made freely available to the public. This is a fear that we have to dispel. If the work is openly licenced online but commercialised in hardcopies, I find it a bigger and better marketing strategy. People still prefer flipping papers and the smell and sound of paper. They can still buy physical copies of the work and the creators can still make significant gains out of their creation.

? There’s more! You can now read part one of our “Her Story” blog series here. Part three, four, and five will be published Monday mornings (EST) throughout the month of March. Stay tuned!

Posted 08 March 2021