Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Free, Libre, Open Content and Culture - and Communities

I was supposed to send a friend some "pointer" links on the possibilities that the Internet provides for community creation/collaboration and about Creative Commons (a component of free - libre - open content,  libre knowledge and altogether the free culture movement, together with other copyleft licences).

I was about to simply send her a stack of links as I have to a number of others before. But as an enthusiast on the issues of free-libre-open content/culture/knowledge/access/every thing I finally realized that sending yet another email to any single person or a group of people for that matter on the issue is just plain dumb. After all, knowledge wants to be free and experiences should be shared. So it really doesn't make sense to post these anywhere else than a blog (or a wiki). So, here we go.

On Creative Commons. I'll let a (3 min) video speak about CC in general.

The video above is hosted at dotSub, which is an excellent example of how creative commons licensing empowers users refine the work - in this case users can help subtitle and translate the subtitles of any video to any language. Simply choose your preferred (available) language from the dropdown menu and see for yourself! .. With normal copyrights this wouldn't be possible.

You might also want to check out a number of excellent presentations by Lawrence "Larry" Lessig, the grand ol' man of Creative Commons. YouTube's your best friend but I'll point you to my two other top recommendations on CC:
1) a four part series on free culture (8 min each) and
2) Lessig's presentation: How Creativity is being strangled by the law at the TEDtalks
These give more back ground to the idea of free culture and creative commons. ... If you prefer to digest things in a written format then check out Lessig's book:  Free Culture (CC-licensed = $0 to download ~$12 to buy a hardcopy)

As a side note:
TEDtalks (in YouTube) has a huge amount of videos on very interesting talks/presenations, not just technology. Another very interesting similar pointer is AtGoogleTalks.  

Related to all this is the issue of communities, collaboration and user-generated content or crowdsourcing. A sociological perspective. I'll embed another YouTube video, a excellent presentation by Clay Shirky, the author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, which he delivered at the World Bank in the spring (commentary on the presentation). To justify the 33min chunk a comment from my dear M (not as enthousiasted as me about these things as I am): "This should really be a must see for anyone working with (international) development." I'd add: to anyone who wishes to understand this century.

Again. See the YouTube's "related videos" on the right. My other Shirky favorite is his TEDtalks speech: Institutions vs. Collaboration (20min). 

Maybe that's enough for this time. I'll save some for another post and conclude by emphasizing that I think that the idea and possibilities of free-libre-open content/knowledge/etc are a huge thing! We're talking about not just serious but fundamental empowerment of individuals. And in this, the licencing issue is one of the very key components as that's what - at the end of the day - defines how content can be used and reused; or not. As a quote borrowed from an excellent presentation "Mass Digitization of Scholarly Resources: Google Book Searc and the Open Content Alliance" (in PDF) states:
“Beware any corporation that pretends to speak for the public interest. That’s usually a contingent pledge based on convenience and temporary market conditions.” — Siva Vaidhyanathan
What do you think?

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