Information Should Be Free

Mark Guzdial makes the point teachers add value to the learning process. Normally, I would agree. However, I got hung up on a misquote from a Walter Isaacson article How to Save Your Newspaper in TIME offering micropayments as the solution to newspapers finding a working model to survive since advertisements are not the right one.

Mark said it was “information must be free.” TIME said, “[T]he Web got caught up in the ethos that information wants to be free.” Mark correctly attributed it to Steven Levy who said, “All information should be free,” but in the context of: “Access to computers — and anything which might
teach you something about the way the world works — should be
unlimited and total.” 

Higher education provides such access. However, we hide the access behind beaucracy and tuition. Is it worth it?

Another thought on all this came from a Dorothy E. Denning quoting Richard Stallman:

I believe that all generally useful information should be free. By ‘free’ I am not referring to price, but rather to the freedom to copy the information and to adapt it to one’s own uses. … When information is generally useful, redistributing it makes humanity wealthier no matter who is distributing and no matter who is receiving.

This reminds me of the concept of Creative Commons and open source. Restrictions to information like copyright ensure the creator makes money. At the same time copyright provides some opportunities for reusing it. (CC and open source just do it better than the Copyright Office.

Creative Commons

Sir Harold Kroto I’ve been thinking about going back through my Flickr photos and releasing some of them under an attribute CC license. Previously, the photo on the left was picked to represent Sir Harold Kroto by someone on Wikipedia partly because it was available under a CC license. (Wow… It still is?)

The quandary is more what should license?


Some of the specific kinds like flowers or places?

Should I even bother?

CC License For No Political Use?

Will It Hold? Its interesting… Rob of Blue Sunbelt is using one of my photos to represent Georgia. It is one of my favorite photos of Grassy Pond near the Georgia-Florida border. My first thought was actually, “There is non-commercial use for Creative Commons. Why not a non-political use?” Not that it would have helped. This particular photo does not have a CC license which allows others to use it. Don’t worry, Rob, I probably will not start a lawsuit over this misuse. Though, how do you teach people to behave?

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This is the Best There Is?

I cringe every time I see this Sir Harold Kroto Wikipedia article.

The photo is one I took. So, its awesome someone would use it, but there isn’t a better one? Maybe the reason they used mine is because I offered stuff at the time with attribution through the Creative Commons license? Someone needs to take a 10x better photo and release it under CC so Sir Harold Kroto can get a better picture on Wikipedia.

RE 2007: USG Digital Content Repositories: Resources to Share

Digital Library of Georgia

  • 60 different libraries and content providers
  • digitizing content, available in various browsing and search options
  • really impressive
  • historical record widely dispersed

Civil Rights Digital Library

  • 65 institutions
  • web access to 25 hours of news photage.

Alternative Media Access Center

  • Some publishers 9 times out of 10 provide an electronic copy. In cases where they do not offer electronic texts (not just an image) or audio recoding. Pick up where these companies have failed students. Publisher lobbying group resists providing electronic texts. Harvard Law Review has blue book distributed by a non-disabled individual to friends causing the loss of thousands of dollars in revenue.
  • Handle 2,000 books a term. Service 109 institutions. Focus on Georgia and may expand to Tennessee, South Carolina, etc. Serve 191 students, but students often unaware as K-12 provides automatically whereas higher education does not.
  • A place that uses guillotines cannot help but be AWESOMEness defined.

Digital Innovation Group

  • iPod Day
  • Representatives at each campus


  • Learning Edge – Quella?
  • Uses Creative Commons 2.0
  • Federated searching – Google, MERLOT, or Orange Grove
  • Each campus has a contact for providing access, training,
  • MERLOT refers individuals to the content. USG SHARE has the content.
  • Intent to do provide seamless access through GeorgiaVIEW.


I am glad industries outside the computer-related realm are picking up what open source has known for a long time: Value can come from those who have not had to go through a job interview process to attach to a project. The power of the Internet is to facilitate communication.

Wired 14.06: The Rise of Crowdsourcing

Hobbyists, part-timers, and dabblers suddenly have a market for their efforts, as smart companies in industries as disparate as pharmaceuticals and television discover ways to tap the latent talent of the crowd. The labor isn’t always free, but it costs a lot less than paying traditional employees. It’s not outsourcing; it’s crowdsourcing.

Reality TV perhaps is the one example which made a half-hearted effort. Instead of professional actors, get people off the street. However, the writers have contrived to pick casts that interact through conflict. When the actors succeed it is in despite of the producers.

The specific example of this is stock photography. I didn’t read past the first page of four. Hopefully they get into Creative Commons and free stock photography?

Sniff Tests

As Dvorak points out, BitTorrent is the largest single protocol. The Web’s HTTP barely counts compared to BitTorrent and the other P2P protocols. That’s a heck of a lot of traffic—as any network administrator knows—and having it increased with crapware is not good news.

In addition, some anti-virus and anti-spyware programs don’t look at Torrents for trouble. That means even users who are bright enough to run programs like those are still in danger of having junk delivered to their computer. That’s a problem.

The real problem is that now BitTorrent, like e-mail, the Web, and soon, I’m sure, IM, is being used to deliver malware.There Is No Conspiracy Against BitTorrent

Perhaps there is a conspiracy within Microsoft to pollute every standard ever made?

Microsoft also said it had created some new extensions to the RSS format, which will be available for content publishers to use under the Creative Commons licence.
Microsoft makes web feeds easier

C’mon, people!! Your Pseduo-HTML created by people clicking on “Save as Web Page” drives people batty attempting to figure out why it does not work. Why does it not work? Because web browsers often cannot read parts. Why can they not read parts? Because it is not HTML!