Why Free Culture News exists

A discussion came up lately about what the difference is between this blog and Free Culture News.  FCNews describes itself on its about page:

Free Culture News is a project of Students for Free Culture and is a blog devoted to happenings in the world of free culture.

There are many sites dedicated to free software, a few to free content, a few to open educational resources, a few to patent law, etc, but there does not seem to be any one definitive resource to go to for general free culture news.  We aim to be that resource.

Keeping our posts minimal and frequent, and pointing to other sources, we try to bring the news as efficiently as possible.

FCNews calls itself “a project of Students for Free Culture” so it’s often confusing why we have two blogs.  One is for news, and the other for…more news?  Before I talk about the differences, let me give a brief history of FCNews.

FCNews sprung out of Free Culture at Virginia Tech, the SFC chapter at Virginia Tech (I’m the chapter head there).  It initially existed as the FC@VT meeting wiki.  My members would post links to news, and because they were not required to write their own analysis, or go through quality control loops they would post a lot of links. It was a wonderful resource because nothing like it really existed, only blogs pertaining to specific areas of free culture.  I read 50+ feeds devoted to free video games, legal battles with the RIAA, etc. and it was really nice to have our wiki as an alternative to that.  Not only could you get all news pertaining to free culture in one place, but you avoid getting tons of articles not related to free culture (eg: Boing Boing and Slashdot are great places to get news about free culture, but for every bit of relevant news, you get a lot of things not really related, and only reading some sections or following some tags usually makes you miss good stuff).

We decided that even though it would require a little more work, we wanted to share that resource with the rest of the world in a nice format.  Thus FCNews was born.

So what exactly are the differences?

Subject matter: SFC’s blog is generally written about SFC as an organization or about events that relate to free culture and education.  It’s not strictly tied down to these matters, but we try to keep it focused on students and on this organization.  FCNews covers free culture in general, meaning it won’t mention everything you find on this blog (because the focus may be too specific), but it will also mention lots of things you don’t find on this blog (because it doesn’t have much to do with SFC as an organization, or to education).

Originality: SFC’s blog consists primarily of original content and in-depth analysis.  FCNews relies heavily on block quotes as to keep the author’s work minimal.

Content length: SFC’s blog contains fairly lengthy articles.  FCNews keeps posts very short and provides the reader with links if they want to investigate further.  A reader of FCNews could read 10 posts in a fairly short amount of time.

Quality: SFC’s blog has a requirement of peer review.  This post will be sent into the hands of another to be proof-read, edited, polished, and handed to you in pristine condition.  It is held to a high editorial standard.  For the sake of speed, and to encourage contribution, every regular poster at FCNews posts without consulting anyone else.  You will find more spelling errors and grammar mistakes there than you will here.  At FCNews, we find the trade-off agreeable.

Frequency: SFC’s blog’s ideal frequency is one post every 1-3 days.  FCNews’ ideal frequency is 3-5 posts in one day.  Neither are really ideal at the moment, but you get the point.

Authorship: SFC’s blog is written by students, and though it wouldn’t mind having a guest blogger occassionally, plans on staying a student-written blog.  FCNews is also currently written by students, but we are open at any time for people outside of the organization becoming regular posters.

Hopefully that answers any questions that you may have had about the differences. The decision between keeping FC@VT news links on our wiki, making our own blog, and writing full articles for the SFC blog was something that was not decided lightly and involved a good deal of discussion.  There was some disagreement when the decision was made, but I think things turned out for the better this way.

So if you have some new and cool news pertaining to education and free culture, where should you post it?  If you just want to quote-and-link, head over to FCNews.  If you want to write a nice well-thought out analysis, post it here, and if it’s of interest to the general public, quote and link yourself on FCNews.  (Or maybe we will do that part without you!  ;) We can be pretty quick sometimes.)

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