Commons in art, science, and culture

The most impressive panel in my opinion: Niva Elkin-Koren, James Boyle, John Willbanks and Jenny Toomey.

James Boyle is clear-headed and acute as usual, warning of the dangers present in the commons movement. The first danger is that we should not become the “lost leaders”, that having hours and hours of low-quality 50 seconds MP3s is NOT what the movement is all about, that would be a disaster, a failure. The movement must be about freeing and generating quality content as an alternative to the people who believe that creativity comes only from the very few. The second danger is the ideological encroachment of the movement in telling people that “our freedom” is the only and bestest freedom, mostly ideologically driven. I gathered certain pragmatic outlook, which I certainly like.

John Willbanks describing the open science movement. It seems from the talk that the Science Commons project has been moving from patents and into databases and publishing (i.e. copyright works). New project called “neurocommons” on data held on databases. Highlight of the presentation: coding bacteria that display the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and a DNA centrifuge ($79.99, ages 10+).

Niva Elkin-Koren: Following her excellent paper “A Skeptical View of a Worthy pursuit“, she is providing a much needed opportunity to pause and ponder some of the problems in the licensing scheme. Complexity of licences, interoperability and the generation of content islands that cannot be mixed. The problems are mostly with the practice. Creative works are not simply commodities, words should be shared and exchanged, these are the actual principles behind the philosophy of the movement, but this is not stated in the movement. CC can bring copyright to all of us, it brings copyright to the forefront and available to the masses. CC is the leader, it should make sure that it makes a statement for the open and non-profit arena. CC should act as a social contract rather than a mere licence.

This session alone was worth the ticket (had I paid a ticket to get in, which I didn’t).

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