Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Do people really realize what Creative Commons is?

Creative Commons
Originally uploaded by ocean.flynn.
I love Creative Commons, although it is a bit scary at times. To license something under the Creative Commons is to put whatever it is out into the world to let it become something else or to be used in some new way.

Ultimately, I believe that ideas must see the light of day, and the Creative Commons structure helps facilitate that.

I belong to a listserv targeted at teachers and administrators at private schools. The listserv is a traditional list, is hosted at Syracuse; the first posts archived by Syracuse are from January 1999. Every post includes a tag at the bottom of the email which reads:

Submissions to (this list) are released under a creative commons, attribution, non-commercial, share-alike license.

Turns out, that's not exactly what some of the list members, and particularly the administrators, thought.

Here's what happened. I took the content of the list and build the ability for each email to appear as a post on a blog, which in turn would feed an RSS feed. That way, people who wanted to follow the content, could get it the traditional listserv method by email, or read it on the blog URL, or read it in a Reader. And, if the blog site has no advertising, then the use can't be commercial; and the posts are clearly marked for attribution purposes, so that the attribution requirement is fully met.

Interesting stuff. Reminds me that today's Internet really is a new world and takes a new way of looking at things.

I'd turned the feed off, but I couldn't turn off the posting to the blog without giving away the farm. The administrators and I exchanged a couple of emails, and then nothing happened for a long while. So I turned the feed back on.

Unsportsmanlike? No.

Presumptuous? Oh, perhaps.

I'd be interested in your comments; you can surf here to read the stream in blog form. Please comment below.

1 comment:

  1. After reading stuff over at the listserv, I decided to post a bit about why I did what I did. This is what I wrote:

    Wow. I never thought this little diddy would cause such discussion.

    I'm the guy -- and I feel like the big, bad wolf -- who took the
    ISED-L content and enabled it to blog form and an RSS feed.

    One of the reasons I did this is that I didn't want the great content
    from the ISED-L clogging up my email in-box. I have taken much of my
    reading for growth and professional development to an RSS reader; I
    happen to be enamored of Bloglines, but there are plenty of excellent
    reader tools out there to help people manage the flood of information.
    Anyway, I wanted a method to help me manage the ISED-L content on a
    reader, and I couldn't get a Bloglines email subscribed to the list.
    I'd requested help from the admins, but the solution just didn't
    appear. (Bloglines has a tool where you can create specific email
    addresses which get dumped into a designated folder in Bloglines, in
    essence treating email as an RSS feed. I could never get the
    generated Bloglines email address subscribed to the listserv. I'm
    still at a loss as to why it wouldn't work.)

    A couple of months after not getting the list delivered to my reader,
    I revisited the issue and created this alternative form.

    Frankly, I'd thought that since the list is published under a Creative
    Commons License, there really wasn't an issue.

    Reminds me of the story about Internet guru Seth Godin who published a
    book using a Creative Commons License... only to discover that's not
    what he really wanted to do. Too late. Somebody took his work and
    printed it and sells it... all within the license that Seth chose.
    You can be sure that all future licenses Mr. Godin uses will be the
    non-commercial variety.

    I do know that several people have joined the listserv after finding
    the information on the blog site. They never would have known about
    the listserv -- and thus missed out on the awesome information posted
    to the list, information helping them be better educators -- without
    the easily found blog.

    As to the blog site, I note that it is not a traditional blog site. A
    traditional blog site usually has one or several contributers and
    offers the opportunity for commenting and dialogue. This site is
    merely a reposting of the ISED-L content. I turned off the comment
    feature so that comments could not be made with the benefit of the

    The good news, at least as I see it, is that the ISED-L community is
    not alone in their apparent pain with the New Media. I work as an
    organizational performance consultant for a federal agency, and we are
    struggling with this very issue. One of my roles is to help change
    our culture so that transparency and information sharing becomes
    commonplace rather than the exception. We have found that we must
    work to "increase the pool of knowledge" and using New Media is one
    way to do that. Even if it is painful, because in the end, it is the
    right thing to do for our people, our mission, and our nation. I'd
    suggest the same applies to this listserv.

    You can find many discussions about these very issues at several of my
    various online endeavors.

    I certainly did this with no animosity or ill will or evil intent or
    desire to pull-one-over on the list membership. My intention was
    quite plain: To take what I thought was awesome content -- content
    which has been helpful to me and could be helpful to many more people
    -- and making it available in a format more in tune with how I (and
    many people) want to get their information. This is great stuff
    published here.

    A couple of responses to comments made by other listserv members:
    * I would always hope that no matter where the content is posted or
    not posted, we can be honest and helpful to each other.
    * I'm not sure how private the list is, at least now. Perhaps when it
    was first formed, the members all knew each other in-the-flesh or by
    reputation, but that's not the case now. Hey, you let me in... and
    you let me in more than once... ;-)

    On a more personal note, I guess this means that I'll not be getting
    any job interviews this season as I seem to have ruffled so many

    As to the future of the blog site and associated RSS feed, if there's
    overwhelming dissatisfaction, I'll shut it down. With much sadness.

    If there's a change in the license, I will definitely pull the plug.
    The only way this works, at least in my current way of thinking, is
    because of the Creative Commons license. No license, no right to
    republish. This might, however, be only a temporary solution as I
    suspect the cultural changes brought about by "uploading" (see
    Friedman's 4th flattening force) is going to continue to march on.

    I'll take comments off-line to my email (pastinson@gmail.com) or here
    on the list. I'm well aware that the whippings will continue until
    morale improves, and as everyone in the Stinson home is currently
    suffering from what appears to be more than a usual run of flu, my
    morale has miles to go. Whip away, please.