Tag Archives: creative commons

Larry Lessig – Law, Leadership and Aaron Swartz

This is Larry Lessig, speaking at Harvard Law School as he accepts the Chair as Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership. As Dean Martha Minnow says at the end of Larry’s speech, this is a Chair in Law AND LEADERSHIP, and she can think of no better person to be sitting in it. If you take the time to watch this speech, and you should, then I’m sure you will have no doubt that Martha’s words are true.

I knew nothing of Aaron Swartz until after his death. I wish I’d known of him before. He took his life on January 11th, at the age of 26, after being indicted for 13 counts by the United States Government after writing a script to download files from Jstor and store them on his computer hard drive after accessing an open cupboard serving as a server room at MIT and hardwiring his computer to it. He presumably had the intent of making them accessible to all, instead of being trapped behind a paywall system. A paywall system that means for the bulk of the population, these academic articles, funded by taxpayer money,  are inaccessible to most of us, and accessible only to those who frequent institutions who pay the licensing fees guaranteeing you access. A recent article in the New Republic, provides speculation as to why Aaron may have decided to take this course.

In the last 20 minutes of this speech, Larry questions the state of things in the United States and asks “Is the United States America anymore?” An America where people who think differently, as Aaron did, are challenged by the Government instead of being supported for their divergent thinking. Divergent thinking that might actually make our world a better place for those who are not the monied elite and don’t have the financial means to advance themselves. My empathy qoutient is raised in this regard; I benefited from a free Higher Education model the Australian Government used to endorse and I’m convinced it provided me with a pathway to further education that may not have been realised without it.

Larry Lessig is obviously deeply impacted by Aaron’s death. There are moments in this speech where I wondered how he could continue, but continue he did, and his words are a more than fitting tribute to a young man who had ideals way beyond those who write code to power  networks that provide people with opportunities for connection, but make them millions of dollars in the process. I saw Tim Berners Lee speak in Melbourne earlier this month and a large portion of his speech was dedicated to Aaron. Like Larry, he had known Aaron since his teenage years and like Larry, it was apparent that his untimely death had deeply affected him.

You may not be able to find a way to share the full contents of this speech with the students you teach, but if a moment presents itself, try and find a way to share Aaron’s story, and use the last 20 minutes of the speech with them. What Larry is positing it that we need more people like Aaron, and more people (and lawyers) willing to step up and do what is right. Larry shares with the audience that he was often seen as Aaron’s mentor, but in fact he saw himself as Aaron’s mentee. Aaron once questioned him on one of their many subjects of interest and Larry’s reply was met with, “yes, as an academic, but what as a citizen?” It’s a question that Larry says will help him to continue to fight what seem impossible fights. Fights like ‘dumb copyright’ that deny people the right to the benefits of academic research funded by taxpayer dollars.

It’s the moral compasses we set for ourselves that make our world a better place to live in. Aaron’s death will hopefully leave a legacy where those who think different, those who think for the good of the whole, will become champions and not pilloried for their actions. I have in no way here paid justice to the story of Aaron Swartz. If you know nothing of this remarkable young man, then do what you can to find out more. A recent piece of longform writing in Slate is a good place to start.

Aaron’s is a story that needs telling. And remembering.

English: Aaron Swartz at a Creative Commons event.

English: Aaron Swartz at a Creative Commons event. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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SlideRocket, I offer you my thanks

sliderocket

Image by virgosun via Flickr

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I use SlideRocket to prepare presentations for conferences. I got an invite to the beta product in its early days, and I was so impressed I willingly stayed with it when it came out of Beta and eventually decided to pay for a pro account at a cost of $240 US dollars a year.

Many out there would baulk at paying for presentation software, but there are definite advantages to using SlideRocket from my point of view. Probably the most useful feature for me is the ability to search flickr for creative commons images from within the software. For me, using creative commons images is a must; you need to practice what you preach. People viewing my presentation online can hover over the image and the attribution for the person who took the shot is visible. I’d prefer it if a link was provided as well, as this would take people to the creator’s work. They now enable you to search for YouTube videos from within the software, and this is something else I’ve found to be very useful. What’s incredibly insightful is the access you have to the analytics of your presentations. I publish my presentations online in public spaces, and the analytics enable me to know when a presentation has been viewed, how long it was looked at, and what city and country the person looking at it originated from. It’s fascinating, especially when I have seen my work being used rather extensively in university environments around the world.

Are you wondering yet why I’m offering SlideRocket my thanks?

On January 5th, I was watching the twitter stream pass me by, when I saw tweets from the SlideRocket team being sent out to people who have scored a gig to present at the SXSW Conference. They were offering them access to a free pro account to put their presentations together. Being the forward person that I am, I thought I’d be a bit cheeky and send them a tweet.

I really didn’t expect a reply, but I got one. @SlideRocket asked me to send them an email with my request so I did. Lo and behold, the very helpful Sogol listened and organised for me to receive 6 months free access to a pro account. I was looking at renewing my subscription at the end of this month, but now I won’t need to until August.

So, there you go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as my Mother would say.

Thanks very much SlideRocket – well worthy of a blog post!!

 

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Creative Commons help from New Zealand

Our close neighbours from New Zealand have been busy producing some fine resources to help us all teach the fundamental understandings of how Creative Commons licenses work.

This terrific little video
was made by Creative Commons Aotearoa New Zealand, with support from InternetNZ, and is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence. It’s a project of the Royal Society of New Zealand and was produced by Mohawk Media. I’ll definitely be using it with classes to help them understand why we should be thinking about Creative Commons licensing of work we use and produce. It’s a damn sight better than me barking on!

Creative Commons Kiwi from CreativeCommons AotearoaNZ on Vimeo.

Another very handy resource comes from Derek Wenmoth, CORE Education’s Director of eLearning. (You’ll have to visit the link; it won’t embed here) Derek had the opportunity to interview Lawrence Lessig, one of the founders of the Creative Commons organisation. Lawrence explains why educators and students should be thinking about usage rights and mentions how search engines like Google and Bing don’t make it easy to search for Creative Commons material. It’s one of my most vocal criticisms of those search engines too – surely the option to find CC material should be accessible from their front pages, and not hidden in advanced search options.

Thanks very much to our friends from New Zealand for providing us with resources we can use in our programs.

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New look (again!)

I’ve been struggling with the look and feel of the header image of this blog. I’ve played around with previewing other WordPress themes, but none seem to be just that right fit. The only one I like costs $68.00, and I’m not entirely sure I like it that much to fork out the dollars.

So, another header image change is here. This was found on Flickrstorm, doing a Creative Commons: Photos you can use commercially (attribution only) search. It was taken by Ethan Hein.

Thanks Ethan, for sharing your work under a licence that allows others to use it in the work they share with the wider world.

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Creature of habit

I am, by my nature, a creature of habit.

You may notice a long overdue change to this blog. The header, that’s been in place for the last almost three years, has changed. It was no longer relevant given the changing nature of Web 2.0 tools and search engines, so I decided it had to go. Some of you will be thinking, ‘Heck girl, that needed to be gone long ago!’, and you’d be right. But me, being the creature of habit that I am, resisted the change.

Personally, I find the fact that I’m content to let things stay the same for so long interesting. It’s at odds with the mantra I espouse here on this blog and within my school. I wonder what that says about me?

Anyway, change (small!) is here. The image was obtained from flickr, and is called Global Network. It was taken by Anthony Reeves, known on flickr as WebWizzard, on June 18th 2009.It is available under an Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0) license. It’s thanks to people like Anthony, who use Creative Commons licenses like these, that  people like me can use them in their blog headers. A big thank you Anthony. : )

So, how long will it stay? Who knows? Maybe I’ll become more experimental and make changes more frequently. A bit of ‘practice what you preach’!

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School’s out Friday

Thanks to Rhonda Powling for tweeting out the link to A Creative Commons Christmas Carol. Those of us trying to impress on others the importance of using a Creative Commons Share Alike licence will be singing along to the chorus. Watch for featured performances  Scotty Iseri of scottygotanofficejob.com, Matthew Latkiewicz of zendesk.com, Lawrence Lessig, Leo Laporte, Cory Doctorow, Dick DeBartolo, Zadi Diaz, Kevin Kelly, and Mark Frauenfelder.

My reports are finished, exams are marked, no correction to be done. I’ll be living the life this weekend!

Enjoy what comes your way this weekend. : )

 

 

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eT@lking – Creative Commons and its impact for education

Last Wednesday night I presented a session about Creative Commons for eT@lking in elluminate. These sessions are very ably moderated by Anne Mirtschin and Carole McCulloch, and feature some fine speakers who are interested in sharing their knowledge and moving people forward with their own learning. (Sounding a bit like Julia Gillard there, aren’t I!).

I uploaded some slides to support the presentation, and I’ve added them to Slideshare so that they can be of use to other teachers and students. They contain the six different Creative Commons licences, and some screenshots of sites that are useful for learning more about copyright and where you source CC licenced material. It’s not earth shattering stuff, but it may prove useful if you are starting the discussion with people in your school.

The session was well attended and there was some interesting discussion in the chat. Anne Mirtschin has included many of the links mentioned and questions posed in a post she wrote about the event.

You can listen to the recording of the session here.

Thanks Anne for inviting me to present, and thank you Carole for moderating this week’s session.

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