Free culture priorities

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When we talk about free culture, we're not just talking about software used to make freely licensed things -- we're also talking about practices, policies, and of course the free cultural works themselves. So when we set out to identify priorities for the free culture movement, we should look for ways to achieve maximum impact in each of these categories.


Platforms and networks

A generic platform for freely licensed art/creative works

  • Why: We have limited CC licensing support in mainstream sites, and mostly narrow purpose repositories for freely licensed artworks.
  • Existing projects:
    • Inclusive projects with clear free licensing requirement: Wikimedia Commons -- the largest repository with a strict free license requirement. However, there must be a realistic educational purpose, which excludes a lot of creative works.
    • Narrower purpose projects with clear free licensing requirement: OpenClipart (PD), OpenGameArt (multiple free licenses), LibriVox (PD transformations of PD literary works)
    • More loose on licensing, but freedom-oriented: MusOpen (lots of PD, some other CC licenses, including non-free ones); FreeSound and CCMixter (multiple CC licenses, including non-free ones), Jamendo (multiple CC licenses, including non-free ones)
  • How:
    • Technology-wise, one could build on the MediaWiki platform, since its use for Wikimedia Commons will likely mean continuous improvement of media-related functionality (there's a Multimedia team at the Wikimedia Foundation, for example), and it's already been scaled to tens of millions of files. The downside is the high complexity of the platform along with longstanding usability issues.
    • Community-wise, there does appear to be recurring interest in such a platform, as evidenced by proposals like Wikicreate and Wikikultur.
  • Difficulty: High. Technology issues aside, convincing people to join a platform that will have many missing features or usability issues compared with popular choices like DeviantArt, Flickr or YouTube will be very difficult, especially without the weight of an established project behind it.
  • Impact: potentially very high, depending on size of community

Tools to make things

Free/open machine translation technology

  • Why: Expand the impact of free culture to many languages and communities currently under-represented
  • How:
    • Build on existing efforts or instigate new ones (challenges/competitions?)
    • Build alliances among projects that maintain large bodies of text that would benefit from translation
  • Difficulty: Very high
  • Impact: Very high, if results comparable to commercial options

Tools to liberate things

Policies and practices

For organizations

NPO policy toolkit

  • Why: Good governance for organizations is hard. Free resources from employee handbooks to privacy policies can be useful.
  • How: Wikimedia, Mozilla and others have opened many of their policies. Much of this is about cataloging and boilerplating. Indeed, policies that have already been tested in the real-world are likely preferable to most organizations. There are other non-free/less free resources that could potentially be fully liberated.
  • Difficulty: Very low.
  • Impact: Low -- this is a useful "starter kit" kind of thing, but not a game-changer. Could expand into a larger pattern library for mission-driven organizations though.

For communities

For individuals

Free cultural works