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Monday, June 18, 2007

Notes on the iCommons Summit

The iCommons Summit 2007 (Dubrovnik, June 15-17, 2007) ended yesterday.  The presentations aren't online, but here are three sets of blog notes about the events.

From David Bollier at On the commons:

The explosion of “free culture” initiatives are on full display at the iCommons Summit in Dubrovnik, Croatia, which I am attending this weekend. iCommons is the international organization spun off by the Creative Commons to convene the countless commoners around the world who are building the new digital, democratic republic. From bloggers to free software to Wikipedia to Creative Commons affiliates to open education and open science practitioners, this wildly diverse community now flourishes in more than 50 countries. This Dubrovnik gathering is a kind of staging area for imagining, and building, a new type of open, democratic culture -- one that competes in a fashion with the more stodgy and/or corrupt democratic norms of nation-states.

As you might imagine, the conversations among the 330 people here span a huge territory. One growing field of interest, however, especially in developing countries, is “open educational resources.” These are textbooks, online archives, curricula, learning software and other resources that can be freely used by students and teachers. The key themes in the OER movement are peer learning, participatory learning, situational learning and the sharing of materials with others. So, for example, Australian school systems have created a vast commons to share the educational materials that they each generate – which enables them to avoid the high costs of photocopying and payments to collecting societies. Another project in Australia is developing free high school science textbooks. A nonprofit solicits experts to volunteer to write separate modules of text, and then professional editors are hired to integrate the final product. The final result is a free, high-quality textbook....

One big news item out of this conference is Professor Larry Lessig’s announcement that he plans to step aside as leader of the Creative Commons. He returns from Berlin to Stanford University in the fall, and hopes to shift his attention to new, as-yet-unspecified directions. While Lessig’s departure is obviously a loss for the free culture movement (but who can begrudge him the respite after ten years of relentless activism, especially now that he has two young children?), it also creates new opportunities for the movement to develop a new generation of leaders and explore new ways of managing itself....

From an unsigned post on OpenBusiness

Some highlights:

- during legal day, a representative of CISAC made the argument that CC and in general, the “open movement” lowers the value of music by making so much of it available for free. Lessig countered with a great example: sex....

- James Boyle (also on the CC board) announced that a new project, called “CC Learn”, has been launched, to work on lobbying all the open education projects to use open licenses, and to be interoperable and reusable. Hewlett has now funded this project, and a Director has been hired. I’ve got some inside information I can’t disclose (sigh) but I can say that there are really big things happening inside CC Learn and that they’re getting a huge amount of traction (much like Science Commons has, which is succeeding way beyond our expectations, though much of that can be credited to the leadership of John Wilbanks)....

Also see Rufus Pollock on the Open Knowledge Foundation blog, who has more detail on the keynotes by Zittrain and Lessig.

Update. For Lessig's own detailed account of his change of plans, see his blog post from June 19, 2007.