Two things worth mentioning today, not new things but things that made me think about the happy movement towards sharing and collaboration.
Larry Lessig’s TED talk isn’t new but I had another look at it and it’s a very clever presentation in favour of rethinking laws that prevent creative remixing of existing material on the web. It would probably sway even those who are resistant to changing copyright laws. Lessig’s instinctive talent for minimalist presentation accompanying logical argument which takes a surprising perspective, reveals the absudity of copyright laws as we know them. What is he saying? Young people are using digital technologies to say things differently, and these tools of creativity are becoming tools of speech because this is how young people speak. Larry’s point is that the law hasn’t reacted positively to these new developments, that the law is strangling creativity. He speaks out on copyright issues with a vision for reconciling creative freedom with marketplace competiton.
The talk is quite long but worth sticking with.
The second thing: looking through Flickr, I noticed information about The Commons which was promoted as
Your opportunity to contribute to describing the world’s public photo collections.
The key goals of The Commons on Flickr are to firstly show you hidden treasures in the world’s public photography archives, and secondly to show how your input and knowledge can help make these collections even richer.
You’re invited to help describe the photographs you discover in The Commons on Flickr, either by adding tags or leaving comments.
Here’s an example of what you will see on The Commons.
Children riding a horse to school, Glass House Mountains
from State Library of Queensland, Australia
The organisations involved include The Library of Congress, Powerhouse Museum, Smithsonian Institution, National Media Museum, State Library of New South Wales, Australian War Memorial, New York Library, State Library of Queensland, and many other institutions from Australia and overseas.
The program has two main objectives:
- To increase access to publicly-held photography collections, and
- To provide a way for the general public to contribute information and knowledge. (Then watch what happens when they do!)
Some people are sceptical and scared of the new democratic collection of collaborative knowledge and creativity. Personally, I’m excited by it. You only have to look at projects such as this to see the magnitude of data compiled by people all over the place. Frightened people have insisted on ‘peer-reviewed’ information only. But wait – isn’t this peer-reviewed too? The collective controls the accuracy of incoming data? We have to think elastically – information is shape-shifting, and if we have new technology and creative ways to collect it and remix it, then we’ll also find new ways of ensuring its credibility. It’s like the librarians’ favourite – information literacy. Well, let’s not get stuck following the letter of the law without understanding its essence. If information literacy is the ability to manage information, then we need to keep up with the new ways information is presenting itself. And as educators we need to prepare students for the new types of literacy. Let’s embrace the new explosion of creativity demonstrated by young people now. As Larry Lessig says, it’s not stealing, it’s a new take on what’s there. It’s like a composer taking a well-known theme and reworking it, taking it into different directions.