Sharing is caring, and there is probably no better way to share your photographic masterpieces with the world than adding them to the Wikimedia Commons pool. While Wikimedia Commons features its own web-based tool for uploading photos, a dedicated tool like Commonist can come in rather handy when you need to upload multiple photos in one fell swoop.
Having defined the terms that represent the core values of free culture and free software in a previous column, today I want to talk about the terms that define its boundaries: how we describe them and defend them. And what's on the other side of them.
In the proprietary production world, what matters about a copyright is who owns it. In the free production world, however, who owns a copyright is relatively unimportant. What matters is what license it is offered under. There is a very simple rule of thumb about the best license to use: use a "free, copyleft license". Such licenses provide the ideal balance of freedom versus limitations, and projects that use them are overwhelmingly more successful than ones that don't.
Most of the assumptions on which our present economic system is based are based on nothing much better than "conventional wisdom": which is a fancy way of saying "it just sounds plausible". Sometimes conventional wisdom is wrong, and that's what the first part of this book has been about: six things that ought to be impossible if conventional wisdom were correct. But if the foundational assumptions of our economy are false, then where does that leave the economy? And if it's no longer standing on a firm foundation, then what are the new rules?
Over at Sphere of Networks, I published a text that tries to give a simple overview of the workings of information production in the age of the internet, covering everything from free software to free culture. This article is a slightly modified version of another chapter of this text. This time I will show you how the internet enabled a new form of information production: commons-based peer productions, like Wikipedia or most free software today. What is free content and why is it so important to people collaborating over the internet?
Achieving Impossible Things with Free Culture and Commons-Based Enterprise
The first completed book from Free Software Magazine Press, by longtime Free Software Magazine columnist Terry Hancock is now available!
Wikipedia is the largest and most comprehensive encyclopedic work ever created in the history of mankind. It's common to draw comparisons to Encyclopedia Britannica, but they are hardly comparable works—Wikipedia is dozens of times larger and covers many more subjects. Accuracy is a more debatable topic, but studies have suggested that Wikipedia is not as much less accurate than Britannica as one might naively suppose. Project Gutenberg is a less well known, but much older part of the free culture movement, having been started in 1971. Today it contains over 24,000 e-texts.
Project Gutenberg, started in 1971, is the oldest part of the modern free culture movement. Wikipedia is a relative upstart, riding on the wave of success of free software, extending the idea to other kinds of information content. Today, Project Gutenberg, with over 24,000 e-texts, is probably larger than the legendary Library of Alexandria. Wikipedia is the largest and most comprehensive encyclopedic work ever created in the history of mankind. It's common to draw comparisons to Encyclopedia Britannica, but they are hardly comparable works—Wikipedia is dozens of times larger and covers many more subjects. Accuracy is a more debatable topic, but studies have suggested that Wikipedia is not as much less accurate than Britannica as one might naively suppose.