Open Source ioe12 Part 2

Notes taken from Cory Doctorow’s ‘The coming war of general computation video‘ for ioe12 course.

Something more important – General Purpose Computers

DRM 0.96

  • Physical defects to the discs
  • Or other physical things that the software could check for
    • Dongles
    • Hidden Sectors
    • Large Manuals
    • etc.
  • These failed because
    • commercially unpopular
      • reduce usefulness of software to legitimate buyers
        • couldn’t back up software
        • lost ports to dongles
        • forced to transport large manuals
    • they didn’t stop pirates
      • trivial to by-pass authentication
      • ‘experts’ would reverse engineer & crack the software and this version would become widespread

[Video time 7m25sec]

By 1996 there was a ‘solution’

  • WIPO Copyright Treaty passed by the UN World Intellectual Property Organization
    • Laws to prevent use of cracking programme extraction and storage of any information retrieved
      • No layers required to enforce

but this made unrealistic demands on reality, for example you couldn’t look inside your computer while it was running programmes.

[Video time 9m20sec ish]

Cory says that 2011 is the hardest time it will ever be to copy things.

[Video time 13m20sec]

Special purpose technologies are complex & you can remove features from them without doing fundamental disfiguring violence to their underlying utility.

Generally this works

But null & void for general purpose computer & general purpose network, the PC & the internet.

There is a superficial resemblance to achieving regulatory goals.

  • e.g. remove bit torrent from the internet because it enables copyright infringement
  • all it takes to make legitimate material disappear from the internet is to say that it infringes copyright
    • fails to attain the actual regulatory goal – it doesn’t stop people from violating copyright

But it does satisfy the:
“Something must be done, I am doing something, something has been done.”

Thus any failures that occur can be blamed on the regulations not going far enough. Rather than the idea that it was flawed from the outset.

Now we get specialised computers that run specific programmes to e.g. stream audio, play games, etc. but can’t run other programmes that might undermine company profits.

This is the ‘Computers as Appliances’ approach

An appliance isn’t a stripped down computer, it is a fully functioning computer with ‘spyware’ out of the box to prevent ‘misuse’.

DRM always converges on Malware. Companies & governments can run software as surveillance to prevent activity, e.g. ‘brick’ a product that has been tampered with.

On the network side, attempts to make a network that can’t be used for copyright infringement always converges with the surveillance & control measures used by oppressive/repressive governments. Refer to SOPA.

Cory sees this as a century long conflict, and copyright is just the first part of this.

“Can’t you just make a general purpose computer that runs all the programmes except the ones that scare and anger us?”

“Can’t you just make an internet that transmits any message over any protocol between any two points, unless it upsets us?”

[Video time 22m]

“Copyright isn’t important to pretty much everyone.”
Copyright is trivial.

Freedom in the future will require us to monitor our devices and set meaningful policy on them; to examine and terminate the processes that run on them, to maintain them as honest servants to our will and not as traitors and spies working for criminals, thugs and control freaks.

We have to win the copyright battle to allow us to move forward. There are organisations that help with this, supporting open and free systems.


Notes from Lawrence Lessig TEDxNYED video

Open Licensing

As part of the ioe12 course work I took notes of what I thought to be the significant bits from this video:

All the following content is therefore attributed to Larry Lessig.

Copyright is about what level of control.

Copyright policy isn’t just about how to incentivize production of an artistic commodity, it’s about what level of control we are going to permit to be exercised over our social realities – social realities that are now inevitably permitted by pop culture.

… its important that we keep these two different kinds of public goods in mind. If we are only focussed on how to maximise the supply of one, … we risk suppressing this different and richer, and in some ways maybe even more important one.

Freedom needs

This opportunity to both have the commercial success of the great commercial works.


The opportunity to build this different kind of culture.

and for that to happen you need ideas like ‘fair use’ to be central & protected to enable this kind of innovation between these two creative cultures. A commercial & sharing culture.

  • A need for ownership
  • A respect of ownership
  • A respect we should give to
      • the Creator
      • the Remixer
      • the Owner
      • the Property Owner
      • the Copyright Owner

of this extraordinarily powerful stuff not a generation of ‘share croppers’.

There are lessons here about ‘openness’.

  1. Our lives are sharing activities, at least in part. For this to happen we need to have well protected spaces of fair use.
  2. This ecology of sharing needs freedom in which to create. Freedom which means without permission from anyone the ability to create.
  3. We need to respect the creator. The creator of these remixes through rights that are directly tied to them.

Creative Commons is offering authors this simple way to mark their contact with the freedoms they intend it to carry.

So we go from an

“All Rights Reserved” world

to a

“Some Rights Reserved” world.

And people can know the freedoms they have attached to content, building & creating on the basis of this creative copyrighted work.

These tools Creative Commons enable sharing, in parts, through licenses that make it clear. And a freedom that make it clear. And a freedom to create without requiring permission first, because the permission has already been granted & a respect for the creator because it builds upon a copyright the creator has licensed freely.

Hundreds of millions of digital artifacts are already licensed in this way.

Do we have this ecology right now?

Openness is a commitment to a certain set of values. We need to speak of those values.

The value of

  • Freedom
  • Community
  • limits in regulation
  • respecting the creator.

IdeaPaint – makes a wall into a whiteboard

IdeaPaint is an interesting concept. If you’re thinking about putting a whiteboard up on your wall; think again, think IdeaPaint. Lay down a primer and then roller on IdeaPaint and instantly you’ve got a surface to directly use your wipemarkers on. There’s a range of different colours.

The different situations where IdeaPaint might be of use to you:

Kahn Academy – DIY OER to Educate the World

Last Friday was an interesting day. I was tipped off by a colleague, Paul Leman, about the Kahn Academy when he sent me a link to Glen Moody’s blog post. At first sight the Kahn Academy looked like a fantastic resource, with 1000+ videos on various topic for students of all ages. But being one who never takes things on face value, I wanted to check things out and see what others were saying about this resource. That’s when I found David Wiley’s post which explained how there was no Creative Commons license attached to the content. I had a look and he seemed to be right. David had written to Sal Kahn the creator of the Kahn Academy previously, but he decided to drop him a further email. Then, as is evident from the comments David received on his post, everyone was immensely pleased to see that by the end of that day Sal had acted on David’s call and prominently displayed the CC license on the Kahn Academy homepage making it an OER for reuse, remixing, sharing, etc. I immediately embedded this video in my Daily Interests blog under the title Education for the World until I had time to write in more detail.

Now I have to take my hat off to Sal Kahn for a truly immense resource. What he has achieved with the Kahn Academy is nothing short of incredible. Single handedly generating instructional videos covering subjects including:

What a wealth of information. This has to be place in the category alongside Academic Earth and Udemy.

This story excites me on a number of levels. Perhaps one of the most significant is the difference anyone can make by openly publishing knowledge online to freely educate others. It’s an approach I’m trying to take myself to make a difference, however small; it is something that I passionately believe in. More power to anyone and everyone doing the same.

Radio package making / podcasting

I’ve found a rich seam of informative short videos from BBC Blast that can help students in secondary and higher education with media work.

This is the first of these videos, only a couple of minutes long and presented by a professional radio producer giving some tips about radio (sound) production and interviewing. The advice applies to podcasting as well. [Always think beyond the box.]

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Radio package part 3- howto", posted with vodpod

Howard Rheingold – credibility literacy

Yesterday I clicked on a link in one of Howard Rheingold’s (@hrheingold) tweets to his latest video in which he explains about the importance of literacy in determining the quality and credibility of information on the internet mainly accessed via searches.

He draws on some footage from a presentations he has given (which was standing room only) to illuminate some of his points. He makes an interesting distinction between skills, which are an individual attribute, and literacy, which Howard describes as skills + community as it rests in the realms of social so you can participate im the community of literates.

He presents five important literacies as:

  1. Attention
  2. Participation
  3. Co-operation
  4. Critical consumption
  5. Network awareness

All of these literacies need to co-exist.

Howard makes an interesting point about child safety, comparing concerns about online safety with the higher threats that exist offline. I think this ties in to my recent  post about OnGuard Online which really centres on talking to your children holistically about online and offline activity, and your own values. Howard emphasises the important of equipping our children with the ability to think critically, and this reduces any risk in their online activity. This ability is paramount to children being able to assess more generally the quality and accuracy of the information they encounter online, and giving them the tools to filter good information from bad, as we’ve shifted from a world of critically edited material pre-publishing to one where it is the responsibility of the consumer to critically evaluate.

There are two important questions we should continually be asking:

  1. How do I ask/phrase the question; how do I ask that search engine?
  2. How do I know what I’ve found is accurate?

Howard goes on to explain about personal ‘trust’ networks, an extension of the personal learning network in which there is a trust value added. And again this is an extension of the real life scenario, where you trust your doctor more the your mate Trev down the pub to give you health advice, but Trev knows a whole lot more about football, though his financial advice is a little dodgy too.

There’s a whole lot more in this video than I could hope to describe, so I suggest just watching it for yourself.

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TED Tim Berners-Lee: Data goes Global

Tim Berners-Lee came back to TED to talk about how his previous call for data to be put online is beginning to come to fruition. In a brief 5min video he presents examples of how governments are making data available and others are able to use it and create mashup to make connection not otherwise identified.