A True Digital Story about Openness and Sharing with Creative Commons Licensing

Yesterday, on my commute home from work, I noticed a dark, bilious plume of smoke on the horizon some three miles south of Glens Falls, NY while driving north from Saratoga Springs on Interstate 87, the Northway. This is the main artery between New York City and Montréal, Québec, Canada. As I approached my apartment, I observed a huge structure fire burning wildly out of control a few blocks away on Sherman Avenue. Thankfully, no one perished in the fire which burned until 5 AM the next morning. There was a miraculous rescue and there were injuries though nothing life threatening… I’d never been so moved in a painfully public moment that was about to get many people’s attention in Glens Falls and beyond. In a crisis moment, courageous responders risk their lives to extinguish a fire while bystanders look on, some very upset, others angry, children and adults holding hands and crying… It’s a moment of chaos like I’d never experienced before. And here I was with an iPhone taking a few pictures and hoping for the best. Twenty-five people lost everything last night in Glens Falls, mostly folks on the lower end of the socio economic scale. I currently do not have renter’s insurance so I’m going to set that up next week.


I took a few images with my iPhone 5s and uploaded them to my Flickr account (update: since Yahoo was hacked and not as transparent as it should be, I’ve temporarily diasbled all but one image, until a migration to another site) and shared on various social media platforms. What ensued after I shared the pics was something very real. One of my images found its way onto a few local and regional news websites. Within fifteen minutes, I was contacted by numerous media sources in the Albany area like CBS, ABC etc (10/19/16 update: CBS link decay.. page is now gone. ABC page still active as of today, see screenshot below in case it goes away) who issued BREAKING NEWS alerts on Twitter and on their websites, all asking for permission to use my images – which I happily granted as a courtesy, at no cost to the publisher, as long as I was given credit. What this really means is: thank you for asking my permission first and above all for sharing my work with others both correctly and within the parameters of Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


Someone from the Associated Press, a photo editor in New York City, asked me to call him which I did. He sent me a disclaimer form via personal email stating that I granted AP full rights to use my work for syndication for their subscribers. You can see one of my images, retweeted many times over, and that is now archived in the AP repository. (update 10/19/16 AP page is gone, see screenshot below) But interestingly enough, if someone would like to purchase my image, they have to contact me first per AP. To be honest, it’s not for sale, it’s a gift to the WWW. I believe in creative commons licensing on my personal work though I’m not a huge stickler about it until now perhaps. Alan Levine, Alec Couros, Bryan Alexander, Jim Groom, Audrey Watters, Larry Lessig and countless others have made CC rise to the top my absolute need-to-understand-and-share-with-others awareness list.


As you can see here, North Country Public Radio in Canton, NY has used my image in a story, now syndicated by the Associated Press, without needing to ask me for permission.  All I ask for regarding my personal work and creativity, is that in a sharing economy where we approach the creation and distribution of materials online, I receive credit and attribution for my work. NCPR left a comment on my Flickr page: “Thanks for making this Creative Commons. I have used it to illustrate an AP story about the fire.” They did not even need to ask me first. That’s the power and simplicity of sharing this way from anywhere, but especially from a mobile device.


The wrong way to do it: News 10 Albany appropriation of my intellectual property without attribution. If their page is no longer available, see pic above.


The right way to do it: Screenshot of my waived copyright with correct attribution by the AP as per my CC license and as signed in agreement with them emailed to me while still on site at the fire. Basically, the agreement states I will not sue them and I’m giving my IP away at no cost in exchange for mandatory credit (AP webpage pic above no longer live).


MOOCMOOC Homework assignment

I participated to some degree in the week-long MOOCMOOC. Here is a link to my Homework assignment for Day 2 in which participants were asked to either record a video clip or xtranormal animated visual that captures one’s thoughts about connected and networked learning and MOOCs in general. That was certainly how I interpreted the assignment perhaps mashing it up as I went along. So I opted for the xtranormal assignment. What a great tool! You can read more about MOOCMOOC and the Day 2 assignment.

Learning about openness, the “cloud” and other topics

Back in June, I co-taught a WordPress for Teaching and Learning workshop at the annual SUNY Instructional Technology Conference held in Stony Brook, NY. I attended this conference in Plattsburgh, NY a few years ago. It IS an exceptionally good conference — my colleagues at SUNY put on a great program, the facilities at Stony Brook were great. I had the opportunity to speak with Patrick Masson from UMassOnline. We’d been in touch back in the Spring when he found himself SIGMaster of a SIG on openness. A speaker was needed at the last minute… He sent out an email to the EDUCAUSE Openness Constituent Group listserv. I offered to present on my casual and informal experiences as a MOOCster, having participated on-and-off in various MOOCs last year. While the SIG was cancelled due to low enrollment, here’s a brief description of the presentation: “Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) seek to establish open and cost-free learning environments and may push online learning and professional development to the next frontier. What is it like to experience distance learning for the first-time as an open online student? What are the opportunities and challenges of being an open lifelong learner in MOOCs? I will share my observations as a casual observer and ³MOOCster² in 3 different MOOCs taken simultaneously in Spring 2012.”

And here’s a description of the actual meeting:

A culture of openness has begun taking root in the core of academia.
Universities around the world are embracing values of transparency,
collaboration, and open innovation as they move to adopt open source
software, make use of open educational resources and scholarly content and begin to explore open models of governance. Is a comprehensive shift towards openness in higher education a positive trend? What does this shift portend for institutional and educational transformation? How can universities in this area best leverage the opportunities this movement presents and mitigate some of the inherent challenges it poses?

This SIG will present a panel of individuals representing different open
initiatives underway throughout higher education, discuss their evolution
and potential impact, identify common challenges or issues posed, and
introduce consortia focused on promoting awareness, assessment and adoption in this area and opportunities to participate.

Participants should expect to come away with a broader understanding of the following questions:

– What is openness – (e.g. What are the essential values or components).
– How have open communities (open source as well as OCW, OER consortia)
organized themselves differently to deliver quality products and/or
– How can institutions orient themselves to both participate in and partake
of open source communities, products and processes?

Michael Feldstein and others planned to present as well. It would have been a great SIG. Next time.

So back to the SUNY conference, Patrick and I had some good conversations before and after the Chancellor’s keynote. I asked him for book/article recommendations to learn more about openness as it applies to software design and management. Of course, I’m interested in “the Cloud” and “the Crowd” as in crowdsourcing, too. So, I’d like to share that list here as a reminder to me what I plan to read and blog about in the future.

Rosalyn Metz’s Educause Quarterly article, “Cloud Computing Explained”
The Cathedral and the Bazaar
The Success of Open Source
The Wisdom of Crowds
Agile Project Management

Have you read any of these works? Do you have other recommendations?

The Right Stuff: Open content licensing for educators 2012-01

Wordle: OCL4Ed

Blog post pending on this week-long MOOC. It finished yesterday. I’m still working my way through it as I didn’t have time to devote a 1.5 to 2 hours per night last week. I will be back.

Back to this post on 2/11. I did finish the course last week and now have got a moment to quickly summarize and finish out the post. What an awesome experience! Here’s a post about how the MOOC has influenced my thinking about whether teaching is more a vocation or profession… Great question.

I took a number of notes in a Google doc for later reference. I understand much more now what creative commons licensing is and how it works to name but one takeaway. The Moodle course and Wiki are rich resources that I’ve bookmarked and will come back to. They just work great in tandem, too. The wiki structure gave me an overview to frame what I needed to learn that day with the key concepts. The Moodle course let me interact with others in a more traditional online environment where I shared some posts and comments in the discussion boards. Of course, following #OCL4Ed on Twitter was indispensable for communication. Using any and all of these tools to engage around OER topics is very cool:

Now more than ever, open is the way to go.

I would like to offer a huge shout out to all the folks who signed up and participated. It was great to meet some of you. Above all, thank you so much to the course leaders and organizers, to the very good people at Aotearoa, WikiEducator and the OER Foundation. For me, this was an inspiring eye-opener and community-building event. I’m ready to visit friends and colleagues in New Zealand now. I once spent 10 days or so in the Cook Islands on my honeymoon.  The next time we are down that way, we will be sure continue on to Auckland and points south.