Mozilla, or as my father called it “Mozzarella”, is an open source project that allows anyone to contribute. The nice thing about the browser is not just that people can contribute code to the browser, but they can develop applications that run on the browser (Facebook, not open source, does the same for its social network). Today, Mozilla corporation announced that more than 1 billion addons have been downloaded by its users. I am not really surprised by this, because I could not go without FF addons, it is one of the main reasons I use this browser (rather than Chrome or Opera). I might post another blog with my favourite addons, including the Clipmarks addon I use for posting this message.
clipped from www.readwriteweb.com
Mozilla today announced that it has served its 1 billionth addon download since they started keeping track of these downloads in 2005. Currently, Mozilla’s users are downloading close to 1.5 million addons every day.
Open innovation at PICNIC 2008
Three sunny days in September. Thousands of sunny people, including myself, gather for a three day event at the Westerpark in Amsterdam. PICNIC 2008 has started, with a promising program filled with famous speakers, writers, businessmen and women, leaders, and interesting geeks. People who made it in business, technology, world peace, or online. Great to listen to, and above all, inspirational. A pretty expensive type of inspiration I must say, with people paying over €1200 to get a three day pass.
Fortunately, I was able to attend a special track, called Enquiring Minds, for researchers or people with an special academic interest in a relevant field. Which could be anything, considering the wide range of topics covered by the conference. 25 of us academic researchers, scientists, or all-round investigators gathered that beautiful morning in an old but nicely renovated building on terrain of the (late) Westergasfabriek.
Each participant was asked to explain his/her research to the others in three minutes. Some interesting topics were covered, ranging from the (the future of) arts and media, internet security, gaming and education, social software, co-evolution of knowledge production and ICT, and many more.
I explained the others that my own research aims at trying to describe and model the relationship between contributions (in online networks; i.e. blog posts) and the contributor in terms of trust, quality, and expertise. Have a look at the illustration below. It tries to depict a person who is contributing content in an online network, possibly within an organization. People, both experts and non-experts, may use (read/visit) and evaluate (rate) this content. How do expertise of the users of this content, and the type and intensity of use, can be used to profile both the contributor as well as the contribution? Quite a BIG question, I know, maybe that’s the reason I have not really started it yet (need some focus?!).
Unfortunately, I have not really been at talks of people really focusing on this topic (merely acknowledging the need for research, which is good), but there was a lot of action on social media, and success factors. In my job at a small software company (doing exactly the thing I intend to research), we create social software that empowers the user to contribute, the first and most essential step needed in order to measure the mentioned relationships (between “contribution-use/users-contributor”). It is therefore very important to know what makes software social, why people use it, when a social software project fails. So that’s has been the red line of my conference, and the subject of this short record of the event.
So what makes social software really social, what is successful and what is not?
I read several publications about this subject, and was interested in how these theoretical elaborations correspond with the recommendations, issues, and notes mentioned by some speakers on the conference. Some of these people were researchers, some of them were entrepreneurs who experienced success themselves. They explained trends and explained how the Internet and relating technologies offer great opportunities for more open, transparent, innovative, more efficient, and distributed ways of innovation and collaboration. And how we are moving towards a more people centered online environment, where friends in common, proximity, shared taste and objects matter. In the following sections, I deal with this in putting forward
Amazing technology, wonder what the possibilities are.. Now these printers are not so functional, and rather expensive ($3000). But in 10 years…?
2005 – 2012: The OpenCourseWarsThe initial beauty of open education quite rapidly turns grey with problems of the NC license again, with public opinion turning against OCW. Problems with defining Non-Commercial quickly becomes not only a theoretical problem, but a real problem indeed:
The publishers, clearly not very happy with the whole open education movement, follow with a brilliant strategy attacking the NC clause, and win in court: the NC clause is struck down, and all the content that used to be licensed only for non-commercial use, suddenly became available for commercial use. After this apparent success by the publishers, they could now use and commercially distribute the OCW content, which they did. Still, they would be obliged to mention the Creative Commons license, and share the (now commercial) content under the same open license (Share-Alike). Surprisingly, they even ignored this clause, and they did not Share-Alike, because the publishers thought they could attack and bring down the SA clause as well… but to no avail, and to their own demise.
Creative Commons’ own publicly posted discussion draft of Proposed Best Practice Guidelines to Clarify the Meaning of Non-Commercial in the Creative Commons Licenses suggested we approach the meaning of the term noncommercial from the “Nature of the User”. To put it simply, the guidelines asked if the would-be user of the noncommercially-licensed material was an individual or non-profit institution. If so, everything was kosher. If not (if the would-be user was a for-profit company), then they were not permitted to use materials. Seems very straightforward, right? MIT OCW, however, saw things in a very different way. They provided their own definition of Noncommercial, in which they said, “Determination of commercial vs. non-commercial purpose is based on the use, not the user”, and that as long as you’re not trying to make money off of their materials, they were cool with whatever else you did.
So on the one hand you had Creative Commons suggesting that Noncommercial should be determined by the nature of the user, and on the other hand you had MIT OCW defining the very same clause of the very same license in the completely opposite way. I had known about this problem for years, and had email discussions with a number of people at both Creative Commons and MIT hoping to get it fixed. But the problem was extremely thorny politically, and nothing had happened yet.
Putting professors’ lecture notes and things on an university website where students can’t trib test questions and photos and things makes about as much sense as using email. It’s for old people who just don’t get it. I mean, even this eBook reader thing I just got from my sister (who finally graduated, by the way) is pointless. Why would anyone use a device that won’t let you tribTribbing is contributing, as you might expect. On the other hand, the opencoursewares are R/O, or read-only, and is “associated with the kind of “authority” young folks want to rebel against, and embodies an entire generation’s frustration with top-down, un-democratic, un-participatory approaches generally.”
Embracing the trib culture, David says, opens up opportunities for new business models and new ways of learning, something I totally agree with. He created a very interesting future history of open educational resources, going through different transitions, mentioning important problems in licensing, student contribution, and describing great opportunities in learning, competition, and creating value in society. In all, the end depicts a very similar look on the future as I have described earlier (and just posted on this blog), about “How I want to wake up one day…”.
Generally speaking, OCWs were difficult-to-sustain R/O endeavors that relied on relatively small numbers of university employees and outside funding. As important as they were, they could never scale and were unsustainable in the ways their original funders wanted them to be. On the other hand, OER projects were generally democratic remix projects that lived and died on the quality of the trib’ing.
Ellen Sjoer and I went to the OpenLearn conference last week in Milton Keynes, England. The conference about open content in education had four main themes;
|OS communities||Formal education|
|FLOSS learning in formal education||Learning from OER today|