“A man may do an immense deal of good, if he does not care who gets the credit for it.” (Father Strickland)
Working in the open comes naturally to me. I’ve never jealously guarded ‘my’ work and really cannot comprehend a person who would rather work in a closed and restricted environment.
Both this blog and my doctoral thesis are CC0 licensed, which means that I’ve donated them to the public domain. If you want to take my work, copy it word-for-word and pass it off as your own or sell it, that’s fine. Seriously. Do what you like. I’m flattered you like it.
I found out today that the minor rewrites I submitted after my thesis defence have now been accepted. I now go onto the ‘Pass list’ at Durham University meaning that I can call myself Dr. Belshaw. This makes me happy.
Another piece of news I received today was via Twitter from Joe Wilson attending the NAACE conference 2012 (#naace12). NAACE is a membership organization for those involved with ICT education in the UK and beyond.
Doug Belshaw's work on digital literacy being referenced at #naace12 as basis for new national standards well done @dbelshaw
— Joe Wilson (@joecar) March 9, 2012
(Note: Joe made a typo in his haste – I’m actually @dajbelshaw)
This came as a bit of a surprise. Whilst I’m aware of people referencing my work, I didn’t realize that NAACE as a body knew of/was using it. Certainly their press release (if that’s the right one) doesn’t mention anything. But to insist on acknowledgement (see discussion here), I feel, is a form of ownership. And no-one owns ideas.
The most important value of working in the open for me? Impact.
I write about things that interest me and ideas that I hold to be good in the way of belief. As a consequence, and like most other people, I think the ideas expressed in my work may be of use to others. If ‘impact’ is getting others discussing, debating and accepting your ideas then, yes, I want to impact other people.
Academics in UK universities will soon have to demonstrate their ‘impact’ under the terms of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). I can’t help but think that one of the best ways for academics to achieve this is to dramatically improve the accessibility of their work. The easiest method? Release it under the least restrictive license you can. This seems so obvious to me as to be a no-brainer.
There are some caveats, of course: less restrictive licensing may be problematic for commercially-sensitive areas and huge fields.
Let me explain.
There are two main reasons why I can ‘afford’ to give my work away without asking for attribution or compensation:
1. I know that most people will, actually, reference it (and there’s a large chance that those who don’t will be called out by others in such a relatively small field)
2. I have a salaried occupation that does not depend upon me attracting funding to commercialise my ‘Intellectual Property’.
Perhaps I’m young and naive but I can’t help think that, if you can, you should give away your work. For free. Without copyright.
That’s how ideas gain traction.
This week is Open Education week. There’s lots of stuff on the JISC website about it.