Monday, March 20, 2006

Work on defining open content

open source
Originally uploaded by vuorikari.
Interesting LOMI seminar, we talked about open content. The confusion that it creates with people makes me think a bit like talking about FOSS with people some years back - everyone talked about open source software, but they mixed all the terms and everyone had a different idea in their heads; while some meant using stuff like Mozilla on Windows, others were musing about how it is so difficult because running Linux is so dam hard.

I love the graph from Chao-Kuei that clearly puts things in places. I want to see something like this for open content, too. We have to elaborate on the concept of open content and allow it to expand to cover different variations; what happens when the content is of public domain, what can be done when Creative Commons are used, etc.

Open content made available under Creative Commons license, for example,
might allow you to access it and use it, but not to make any derivative
works. That means you can't rip, mix and mash it the way you would like,
let alone release it out to anyone else. Having content under CC pretty
much, though, goes under the understanding of open content. The "source
code" might be made available for reviewing, but not for modifications!

The same availability of source code would suit for the cases of "freeware" content, the free stuff that is made available by publishers, for instance, but can't be ripped, not can't be modified, as no source code is made available. This is kind of "read only" content that can be very valuable, however, has no re-use aspect for modifications and re-distribution. Someone mentioned in the LOMI seminar that free/shareware never made it big, but it does have its marketing value. And that is the stuff that publishers are eager to give away for free, however there is no way a user can play around ripping and mashing it. So, defining what is free/shareware of open content would be useful.

Also, it should be addressed whether there can be open content that is
commercial in the same way that there is commercial open source
software. Some might be interested in developing products and services
around that idea. Hec, I want to see someone making money of WikiPedia! Thus, to define open content one should not use the price as an identifier. Rather, if commercialisation of open content is
allowed, a better starting point for the definition of open content
should better be, for instance, proprietary or non-proprietary content?

In the LOMI seminar we also talked about open content and tried to define it through three different degrees: Open for access; open for modification and re-distribution; open for ....I cant remember. As open source software, most participants agreed that it is important to allow modification and re-distribution. However important that is, and however important the FSF thinks it is, for the average user like me and my mom, it is not that important. I don't have any knowledge to modify the code nor do any modifications, I just want stuff that works. That why for me "access" is important! If I can't have it, I can't use it.

Rambling thoughts, by no means written in stone! I'm very willing to work on defining open content by working on its concept based on Chao-Kuei's graph. I like the idea of displaying a variety of choices and having something to show and give a common group for discussion.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Edublog award nominees - the women

the most kick-ass woman in open source

Ok, I kinda missed it, it was International Women's day and there was all kinds of happenings going on. For example Josie asked all the people, especially gals, to blog and mention "International Edublogging Women's Day 2006".

I went to see her nominations today and this is an honor! Although she misspelled my name (many do, no hard feelings...), here is what she had put in the end of the posting "I can't wrap up without a shout out to Rinna Vuorikari of the Flosse Posse - the most kick-ass woman in open source;" Yeah, that's me :)

PRESS RELEASE: Don’t allow software patents to threaten technology enhanced learning in Europe – Sign the petition!


March 14 2006 (Brussels, Belgium) Sign now the petition that aims to alert European authorities and policy-makers to the dangers of software patents, and particularly to the negative impact they could have on e-learning that uses information and communication technologies (ICT) to enhance education.

All the European and international e-learning practitioners, as well as other concerned citizens, are welcome to sign the petition which will be sent to the European Commission as an input for the “Consultation on future patent policy in Europe” by the March 31st. Moreover, the petition will be distributed to other European and national decision-makers to rise awareness on the issue of EU-wide software patents and how they threaten to inhibit innovation among European e-learning developers and practitioners.

“Money spent on software patent and defending against litigation would be better spent on development, education and training” states the petition that is drafted by a community of e-learning practitioners after the first European Conference on Open Source for Education in the Netherlands in Nov 2005.

“The software patents present a clear danger for the whole field of e-learning, not only for its open source community, but for each developer and decision-maker who is responsible for delivering better education with the support of ICTs.” states Ms. Vuorikari from Flosse Posse.

The petition “Don’t allow software patents to threaten technology enhanced learning in Europe” aligns itself with the policy of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII). The topic of EU-wide directive on software patents is rarely mentioned with regards to the field of e-learning, although its ramifications could be quite serious. Therefore it is important that this issue is brought to the attention and discussed by those in the field, so that those who oppose it can convey a common and unified position to the decision-makers across Europe.

If you are a concerned teacher, learner, parent, researcher, decision-maker, e-learning practitioner, developer or citizen, read and sign this petition on-line:

Make sure others know about it!
We are aiming to raise awareness and gather as many signatures as possible by Thursday 30th March 2006.

For more information address:

Background information: In July 2005 the European Parliament rejected the proposed European software patent law (i.e. the directive on Computer Implemented Inventions) after years of "ping-ponging" between European institutions and fierce lobbying by both the pros and con sides. This directive sought to regulate the scope of patentability of software within the EU.

In July 2005 the proponents of software patentability agreed to drop the directive and push for the Community Patent instead. The Community Patent plan doesn’t even mention the subject of software, although, make no mistake about it, software patentability is one of the main drivers of these plans.

Seek more information and points of argument at the following site:

No Software Patents!

Foundation for Free Information Infrastructure