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Linking Free Culture
Jamais Cascio, 1 Apr 04

Lawrence Lessig rocks. We've written about Lessig's Creative Commons license here before (and really should get around to getting one set up for WC), and his 2002 book The Future of Ideas reshaped my understanding of the nature of the online world. His new book, Free Culture looks like it will be equally as informative; now I just need to figure out which version to read.

Like Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Free Culture is being simultaneously released in print and online. What's more, the online version, originally a PDF, can now be found in a multiplicity of formats, including as an audio book read by bloggers. But one of the most interesting versions of Free Culture involves WorldChanging ally Taran Rampersad, of KnowProSE.

The Free Culture Link-o-Rama at eAsylum.net takes the existing HTML version of the book and adds links within the text to pages and resources around the web. The growing list of links ranges from body piercing to Thomas Edison, with stop at the FCC, Girl Scouts, and the Supreme Court along the way. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the links go to Wikipedia; fortunately, it's a good resource.

At this point, not quite half of the chapters have been linked; more work is needed. If you're feeling like exercising your mad HTML skillz, they could use your help. At the very least, it'll give you an excuse to read the book.

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Comments

First, I have to say that I am, by no stretch, doing this alone. :) Riri and Robert are not only helping, they are adding their own flavo(u)r right now - and it's really an inspiring thing to be a part of.

It's also a lot of work, and I write that as I lost a complete chapter of links because I timed out my login on the Drupal CMS. Lesson learned. :)

Last and perhaps least... it's not RamperSilicon; it's RamperUnHappy. Rampersad. :)

Wikipedia was my immediate choice as a resource for many reasons - for one, it's not commercial, and I want to hono(u)r the spirit of the Creative Commons License that Lessig published the original work under. Certainly, we could link to affiliate links (especially for books!), but I think that it's not ethical given the license - and further, it destroys the spirit of the whole thing.

Wikipedia itself is a great resource. And what's more - it is a living work unto itself, just as the book itself we are reworking is intended to be. 100 years from now, some historian will be able to click the links and find relevant information (we hope).

What is also added to the book by doing it the way in which we are doing it - people can add *comments* and *notes* to the work (registration on eAsylum.net required, of course), so again - the book becomes more interactive, and more of a living work. And *that* is magic... The book itself has a capacity to grow; to unfold, depth added at every turn. It's an amazing thing to consider the implications of; perhaps I should write something about that sometime.

A common mispelling of my surname is RampersaNd. It is, however, Rampersad :)

But for now, I'm off to do some more linking. :)


Posted by: Taran on 1 Apr 04

Oops. I made an error in my comment, mentioning my name twice. It's not that important. Staring at HTML too long. :)


Posted by: Taran on 1 Apr 04

Whoops. My humblest apologies.

Fixed it.


Posted by: Jamais Cascio on 1 Apr 04

There is also a wiki set up for conversation and notes.

http://blogspace.com/freeculture/Main_Page


Posted by: Mark on 5 Apr 04

i must admit hard about the possibilities opened by CC licenses and it seems that the single most important one is free access - for instance to Lessig's new book. and that all other affordances are far, far behind. I mean, a wiki, a wiki with purple numbers by the paragraphs, a wiki with links to pages of the original are ok, but let's admit, is that what we expected from the promise of the Internet and the potential of Creative Commons?

What seems to be mainly happening is that there is one more choice to make, and in the end, do the versions differ that much?

I recently went looking for a PHP script to set up a links system on a webpage. on a single repository page I found more than 100 scripts. all were, apparently, simple, powerful, small and fast. all more or less did probably the same. and all probably were in some way annoying, the way open source goes.

i feel the same with the growing family of Free Culture clones, with the difference that here the original is good.

and the last example, of the Free Culture with links. think about it, someone is spending time, labouring away on these links and even rationalizes the need for it. but i can do the same with my firefox's 'search online' extension: highlight the word and search for appropariate pages. honestly, I can even retype a term found in the original PDF. and then I have the freedom to read my own links, and not the links that someone decided are good for me.


Posted by: alek on 15 Apr 04



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