I’m late to the party on this, but I recently attended a webinar using Zoom for the first time. My (Jakarta) internet connection is often patchy, and Skype and WhatsApp calls quite often go to pieces, but Zoom held up perfectly and with minimal lag. Impressed, will use again.
Note: Links to resources are at the bottom. The footnotes are worth reading.
On Thursday I attended ‘Creative Commons Basics’, a webinar hosted by the Global Reading Network. It was very good.
Cable Green, Director of Open Education at Creative Commons, made an excellent presentation about the basics of Creative Commons licensing, followed by Q&A. I’ve done a fair bit of reading about CC licenses, but the clarity of the presentation and the texture of the examples shared really helped me to get a better understanding of how CC works.
Here are some highlights:
Education as sharing
Among other things, education is fundamentally about sharing.
Knowledge is an interesting kind of public good: once shared it’s non-excludable (it can’t be taken away) and it’s non-rivalrous (you having it doesn’t stop me from having it).* We didn’t get into how knowledge benefits from network effects (your knowledge can make mine more valuable), but that’s worth mentioning too.**
A moral imperative
Given the non-rivalrous nature of knowledge, Cable argued for the moral imperative to share it: if we can help people by sharing knowledge at (next to) no cost to us – something the internet enables – then we’re morally obliged to do so***
The internet enables; copyright forbids
Almost all educational resources are created digitally (text, audio, video)
The internet enables the sharing of digital resources at effectively no cost****
Copyright restricts or forbids sharing and therefore, Cable argues, restricts education either directly or indirectly (see below)…
Free as in libre
Cable discussed the key distinction between free as in gratis – at no cost (the traditional internet description of this is “free as in, ‘free beer.'”) – and free as in ‘libre‘ or ‘at liberty’.
The difference is important: there are lots of resources available online that are free (no cost), but copyrighted, meaning that ownership or use is
precarious, in the sense that the copyright holder can revoke the right to use it, and has legal means to enforce their ownership
rigid, meaning that users don’t have the freedom to adapt and re-purpose the original material, or to give it away.
The clearest examples of these things are probably in the world of proprietary software where the source code isn’t accessible to users, and where licensing agreements expressly forbid editing and sharing with others.
The 5 Rs of Open Education
The antidote that Open Education offers to these restrictions are the five Rs (courtesy of David Wiley), enabled by Creative Commons licensing:
Retain – the right to make, own, and control copies of the content (e.g., download, duplicate, store, and manage);
Reuse – the right to use the content in a wide range of ways (e.g., in a class, in a study group, on a website, in a video);
Revise – the right to adapt, adjust, modify, or alter the content itself (e.g., translate the content into another language);
Remix – the right to combine the original or revised content with other material to create something new (e.g., incorporate the content into a mashup);
Redistribute – the right to share copies of the original content, your revisions, or your remixes with others (e.g., give a copy of the content to a friend).
CC licenses are a free, open public framework intended to make it easy for creators to share their works widely while still retaining ownership of the work – that is to say, without transferring them entirely to the public domain (i.e. giving up their status as owners of the work).
CC Licenses are made up of combination of the following yes/no options:
BY: If you use it, you have to attribute it to the original author in the new text. More on attribution here.
SA: Share Alike means that you have to share any derivative works under the same license as the original
NC: Non-commercial. You can redistribute it as long as you don’t make a profit doing so. Note that charging for work to cover reasonable reproduction costs and overheads (e.g. getting the work printed by a commercial printer and selling it for the cost of printing) has been ruled acceptable practice by a court in New York. Note also that this does not prevent others from making a profit from a service based on the CC:NC work (e.g. by charging for a course using the work, or a performance of the work).
ND: No derivatives. You are allowed to use the work for any purpose, but are not allowed to re-mix or change the work in any way.
For any of these licenses you are not required to contact the licensor for permission to use it
These restrictions are not binding on the holder of the copyright – that is to say, if you share your own work under a CC: NC ND license, you are free to use it however you wish, including making a profit from the work and remixing it: “The NonCommercial limitation applies to licensed uses only and does not restrict use by the licensor.”
Note also that once a work is (legitimately) released under a CC license, the license is irrevocable – the work can’t be “un-CCed”… but the creator can make a different (revised) version of the work and keep it under any restrictions they wish.
Materials shared with any kind of CC: ND license do not fulfill the criteria of the 5Rs outlined above.
A Hierarchy of Free-ness
Links and Resources
Cable finished off by sharing a set of links to resources or interesting use cases of CC. Here they are:
Case study (video): What happened with the Netherlands’ Rijksmuseum CCd / open sourced its collection
Phew. Thanks again to Cable Green of Creative Commons and the Global Reading Network for an excellent seminar. In the spirit of Creative Commons and Open Education Cable is sharing the presentation under a CC license – I’ll share a link to video and slides if and when I have one!
Update: Here’s a .pdf of the slides form the session:
*I say “an interesting type of public good” because until it’s been shared it’s scarce and excludable.
**There are negative network effects to some knowledge too (you having them makes mine less valuable)
*** We didn’t get into cases where the fact that people have paid for resources makes them more useful – more likely that they’ll have an impact because a better quality of attention will be paid to them so that they’re more likely to be understood deeply, used and spread – and make it more likely that more resources will be created. Seth Godin is doing interesting experiments around this with the combination of his blog and free materials , podcast, and the Akimbo workshops.
****At no cost unless, in some cases, making them free reduces their value.*
I love obstacle courses. A lifetime ago I was very-part-time in the army, and I remember a morning on an obstacle course early on in our training. It was great – a little group of us blizted the course and left the others far behind. And as I swung across the final obstacle and crossed the finish line our sergeant-major leant forward and spoke quietly into my ear.
“Wouldn’t it be good,” he said, “If those who found it easy helped the others, so that everyone finished faster?”
A business that does not show a profit at least equal to its cost of capital is irresponsible; it wastes society’s resources. Economic profit performance is the base without which business cannot discharge any other responsibilities, cannot be a good employer, a good citizen, a good neighbor.
But economic performance is not the only responsibility of a business any more than education is the only responsibility of a school or health care the only responsibility of a hospital.
Every organisation must assume responsibility for its impact on employees, the environment, customers, and whoever and whatever it touches.
That is social responsibility. But we also know that society will increasingly look to major organizations, for-profit and non-profit alike, to tackle major social ills. And there we had better be watchful, because good intentions are not always socially responsible. It is irresponsible for an organisation to accept – let alone to pursue – responsibilities that would impede its capacity to perform its main task and mission, or to act where it has no competence.
Peter Drucker – Managing in a time of Great Change
Are you dealing with a difficult maths problem or with difficult feelings about a maths problem?
Is the struggle with the work itself, or with your feelings – apathy, disillusionment, fury – about doing it?
It might help to shift your attention to those feelings instead of the problem in front of you. So your focus is no longer “write this article” or “make this thing” but “master my feelings about this work” or “inspire myself to finish this piece of the project.”
It might not help, of course, but working with our feelings often turns out to be the hardest part of doing good work. If you can work with them, there’s a double satisfaction in a job well done.
Here’s more on ‘scenius’ – this time from Eric Schmidt:
The world is much smaller than it seems. If you’re an outsider looking at our world [the world of tech], somehow you think it’s this vast world, but to me it seems like about a hundred people, and they all know each other, they’ve all been on each other’s boards, they were all working towards a common goal.
I’ve since learned that this is how industries develop. So when you go back to the starting of the automobile industry or the starting of any other industry, it was a small community and everyone benefited by working together even if they were competing.
As an aside, when I first came to Google, I developed a habit of calling Terry Semel, who was the then CEO of Yahoo! who was our primary competitor, to congratulate him for every deal he got. And he developed the habit of calling me to congratulate me for my getting every deal. And the reason, aside from being a good person, which he was, was that we knew that if he got a customer to buy their product, we would shortly follow into that account. And he knew that if we got a customer using this, he knew that he would shortly follow into the account.
So there’s a real camaraderie around the building of these new network platforms … and they’re a relatively small group for much of their time.
It’s a fantastic line. It was written as a faux-disparaging remark that was exactly intended to show the sort of humour you could expect from the Ward/Browne.
What I love about it is that it’s true of almost everything, including (and perhaps especially) the kind of highbrow entertainment that Ward’s fictional reviewer would have thought was worth their attention: opera, ballet, public lectures… If you like that kind of thing, you’ll find it the sort of thing you like.
And if you don’t like this sort of thing that doesn’t mean it’s bad (though of course it might be bad) – it means it’s not for you.*** And that’s fine. It’s not for you, and your opinion isn’t really relevant – what matters is the opinion of the people who it’s for.
This is a liberating way of thinking about anything you make, anything you’re trying to build or sell… even about yourself.
*Variously attibuted to Ward (pen name of Charles Farrar Browne), Abraham Lincoln and others. Ward is the best bet – more here.
**A really interesting read – recommended – more to follow.
***Seth Godin has written a lot on this – see this post, this episode of Akimbo, Tribes and This is Marketing
DC had 198 views in March, from 82 visitors. In internet terms, this is a pitiful statistic. Almost no-one reads anything I write.
But I love it. Even apart from the fact that I write DC for reasons other than its enormous readership, I love it. I mean, apart from this, when was the last thing anything I’ve written was read 198 times?
And while I take a bit of pleasure in seeing how many people visit (welcome, by the way), I get enormous pleasure in seeing random people checking in from around the world. He’s the map for March 2019: