About mostlysocialmedia

Just your average corporate comms guy who makes his living in social media. No, I'm not in marketing, sales or community manager. Yes, there are other uses for social media. I am also a motorsport media professional too.

It is a video about how I use copyright, creative commons

The title says it all really, doesn’t it.  By all means, not comprehensive but a good indication…


Copyright, copyleft – does it do any justice?

Copyright, in its purest form exists to protect the person and their product from theft – and to allow them to be able to make a living from what they are talented at.  It should protect people in the same way that theft laws protects people’s physical assets.  At a philosophical level, copyright is very important as why should someone else profit off the work of someone else.

Through the advent of, in particular digital sharing platforms, enforcing copyright is virtually impossible.  It took big companies with deep pockets to overcome Napster.  Other sites, like Pinterest and Tumblr do the same as Napster – sharing and profiting off the work of others but without the deep pockets and the impetus of major companies, it would be impossible to see the same results.  The Throsby reading made mention of monopolies and you almost have to be one to ensure copyright.

Small operators would potentially struggle to pursue copyright claims due to the four factors that are there to protect them – i.e. search costs (expensive), transaction costs (lawyers are expensive), collection costs (and you’re still not guaranteed to get the collection, enforcement costs (courts are expensive).

As such the other aspects of copyright law that exist including identifiability and cost to purchase are gathered within normal business rules.  Simple supply and demand have to apply here – who will purchase something that is radically overpriced?

As society, and particularly digital technology has developed, the ease of flaunting copyright laws has increased.  It could be argued the services like Pinterest, YouTube and Facebook providing easy access for people to break copyright – and as a result for those companies to be able to profit from the potential breachers of their user base.

If we bring this back to an analogue world, would your local pawn store be liable for selling the stolen TV that was traded in by a customer?

Any answer to that is almost a moot point, unless a massive class action comes about.  Music with their issues with Napster have been able to form new business models that not only abides by copyright but also is profitable (i.e. iTunes, Spotify etc).  Where that business model comes in for photography, videography is another unclear.

When approaching other areas of work that is protected by copyright and IP law, the issues are complex.  If one looks at academic or industrial research, you are met with a cost heavy base product that can take decades to produce.  Under a free knowledge economy, how does this research remain viable.  If it is not protected by an effective and enforceable copyright law, it may also reduce the capacity for research.  This is also met with a need to share information to enable the world to progress at a faster rate – and to show that the research is valuable to the world at large.  When the Reddit founder was planning to release the academic papers under a ‘knowledge should be free’ banner it had the possibility to destroyed business models of research and academic journals (though the punishment that he was looking at was in no way comparable to the crime).

As you dig deeper into to coding and other specific skills, breaching copyright or engaging in poor business practices can have vastly negative consequences, similar to other creative industries.

When one then moves to the Creative Commons or Copyleft alternative, they are found with a much more flexible system, though one where the commercial business models are more difficult to perceive.  I don’t doubt that many people that rely on copyright are, by result of lack of resources are defaulted into copyleft.  Without the capacity to effectively pursue copyright claims, they are effectively looking a a copyleft situation – even if they don’t get the base product of an acknowledgement.

Copyleft has, undoubtedly enabled digital sharing to thrive and the sharing of knowledge has led to a boon of new ideas and innovation.  It in itself is a hugely important movement as we move forward and the number of people out there looking to innovate cheaply, and without payment increases.

I’ll soon put together a separate spiel on how I use both copyright and copyleft – both have an important place in what I do and how I make my living.

Whatever the case is, copyright laws have in important place in the protection of ideas and innovation.  I firmly believe that access to knowledge, culture, art etc should be widely available – but should be earnt.  Free reign to this doesn’t benefit the people who made it and devalues it as a commodity – to the point where, if it was an analogue world – it would be considered junk.

Copyright, and by virtue copyleft laws need to develop.  Undoubtedly industries that rely on copyright and have had this eroded away in a digital environment need to be allowed to flourish and be profitable in a the current environment – something that copyright doesn’t necessarily allow.

Where the answer is and how to get there is a complex issue and one that won’t be reached overnight – copyright has a place, it is vital to ensuring that art, culture, music, research and more can survive in this shared world.

* You may also enjoy reading this – http://www.afr.com/p/national/arts_saleroom/why_information_shouldn_be_free_ODMOpJVlRLZ5BAZjkCAsoJ

More on helping those in open education

OER Mind map

I’ve been thinking more about open education resources as per this post.

IT is one of those ideas that at the moment is just a thought, or a pipe dream but I believe that there is a chance to make a company that supports open education and can provide a platform to offer independent and free advice to those undertaking open education – and therefore offer an alternative source of advice for those that are undertaking formal education.

It obviously would be difficult – forming the organsiation, forming the IT requirements, getting the help and most difficult getting the funding.  I have gone through and made a quick mind map of what it is, what is needed and the SWOT.  Obviously this would need to be fleshed out and in the end, this document would be enormous.  But it is a start.

The key would be to see if you could find the relationships and support from the companies that offer Open education and whether some of those companies would agree to help you.  Once you talked with them, to see if there was any inkling of support, or whether they would rather destroy you or worse – are completely apathetic to the idea, you’d know if you were onto something or whether it would be put on the shelf.

Are you studying through open education or are currently studying?  What would you need from your support?

Toowoomba and social enterprise…

Undoubtedly there are many social enterprises in Toowoomba – from your St Vincents and Lifelines to Homeless support and Drug Arm.  These kinds of organisations do an amazing job for the community.  The work is hard and I would imagine very emotionally draining.  Most of these companies are supported by large, religious or government funding/organisations to provide essential community services and help those in need.

Outside those organisation, a couple of new privately run organisations have popped up.  The first is Bounce Coffee – proclaimed to be the first social enterprise cafe in Toowoomba.

Bounce’s aim is to help people get back into the workforce.  Many of their employees are disabled and Bounce works with other agencies to help find and (re)train people to be in the workforce and gain their independence.  The organisation is run as a commercial operation with the profits/losses going towards the two owners.  They were awarded with the first Business Ability Award for supporting those with a disability in the workforce – reflecting the changing attitudes to getting those with a disability into the workforce and the need to support social enterprise in this area.

Ability Enterprises is another that has been recently established in Toowoomba and their aim is to provide employment opportunities to the long term unemployed, those with disabilities and other minority groups.  Again this company is a commercial entity and are working the the local council to place people into employment.

The final one I’ll highlight is the Toowoomba Flexi School.  This school has been established to provide flexible educational opportunities to students who cannot attend mainstream high school for whatever reason.  Kids that are full time carers, have a health issue or who are homeless can attend the school and gain their high school education.  The Toowoomba Older Men’s Network – another local group is instrumental to giving the students a male role model. The school is under the direction of Centenary Heights State High School but operates virtually independently to provide alternative education to a group of people that often fall through the cracks.

Personally I don’t have a great involvement in social enterprise though I absolutely see their need and believe the are of great value to society.  I’ve never thought of the business models or theories that go behind the operation of a social enterprise though, one day, would very much like to support/donate time to them.

Through my job I have helped with some events with the Flexi School and didn’t realise the need for these establishments until I saw the work that was being done and the positive impact they have on people’s lives.  That is the key, these organisations have such a positive impact on people and there needs to be support to allow them to thrive.

An idea for social enterprise and education

In a continuing push to come up with ideas I’ve been reading and thinking about socail enterprise and how that can be brought into an online company.

My day job is in the University sector and of late there has been a push towards open source educational resources as a way to allow people to study in a flexible way, maintain their skills and importantly open up education to people from financially disadvantaged backgrounds.  It can also be a platform to educationally disadvantaged people back into study or into study for the first time.

Anyone who has studied, particularly external education realises that self directed education is difficult and finding help through an open source environment can be difficult.  The idea would be to offer help on courses offered through open source environments like Wikieducator or OpenCourseware.

The help environment would have to be online, free and open for all to view.  The idea would be a pluralist viewpoint of social enterprise with a many-to-many relationship.  We would have to have topic experts available to help on subject matter or, an alternative (better?) solution would be to have facilitators available to teach people how to find information that would help them through the course.  All advice given would be freely available online and archived to be referred to later on.  

This project would rely on help that is freely available, like that which made Wikipedia so successful, expert advice on learning and topic areas which could be sourced from education providers that publish open courses and technical experts to ensure that the systems don’t fall over and allow continual innovation.  

Such a project would require a large sum of startup funding to get the systems online, to establish relationships with education providers and the organisations that host open education and to reach those studying – particularly the open courses.  This could be achieved via government grants, grants from other philanthropic schemes, partnerships with education providers and other private means.

Any platform that it is published on would have to be able to be viewed on old equipment with slow and unreliable internet connections.  Ideally the materials could be taken away to be viewed offline.

The value behind this idea is to encourage people to continue to improve their skills.  There would be an articulation possibility for education providers that are commercially operated (via private or public funding) and may also provide a case for the success of free and open educational resources.

For more info, visit – http://wikieducator.org/Main_Page

An idea about gigs

Coming up with a cultural enterprise, combining that with social media is proving a bit of a challenge.  I could always come up with some stuff I have already done – but that is neither innovative nor sustainable – fiscally speaking.

Certainly, part of me wants to continue to concentrate on providing digital media to people, in a way that decreases transaction times and costs – and moving from the Patchwork A, bringing in physical product this thought process is a good way forward.

What I came up with is a new way to discover music gigs.  We have a bunch of material for well known bands – from looking on their websites, to Myspace, to going on Triple J gig guide and the soon to come Lemonrock and Songkick.

The thing with all of these is you have to know the bands, know what you like, know where you are.  So if you’re new to a city, a tourist or want to discover something new, it is really difficult to go and discover something.  Additionally, bands that are unsigned or trying to make a name for themselves can find it difficult to get a new crowd – or people that aren’t friends, family or ‘sceners’.

The business would be largely user generated with the prime role of the administrators is to laisie with the bands, venues, local councils to make sure that band details are correct, audio/video uploaded for each band, the genres are correct, venue details are correct and the mapping is correct.  The venues/bands would add their concerts to the program and push out the details.

The user would would sign-up to the program, put down the bands, genres etc that they like and their locations.  A push notification would then go to the person to suggest a concert they may like, how to get there with a map and public transport options from your location.  It could also link to Facebook and remember your checkins at concerts How it determines what you like would be similar to Amazon – it would determine what you have attended, what genres of music you like and pair that up with the details as entered by the band and push a notification – either based on GPS or a location the user entered.  Users can provide feedback or discussions on what they have seen.

The program would be commercialised by in app advertisements, perhaps different levels of user/band/venue membership could be provided at a fee.  The system itself would have to be free to use at a base level to encourage people to use it.

The value of this idea is that the application is that it will notify you of what is coming to where you are.  Most applications (or all the ones I know) require you to search and re enter your preferences each time you access.  This program would push notify people and tell them these bands that you may enjoy are playing.  This would allow new or unknown bands to access new audiences and fans to find new bands.

That’s my idea for this week…thoughts?

A look into cultural entrepreneurship

A few notes…

Slide 1
Cultural entrepreneurship
– Prime aim is to increase the artistic value in society through art, theatre, music, photography, video, books, or other creative media
– They don’t aim to make money – though this is something most yearn for.  To be a cultural entrepreneur full time is something they want but often times, it isn’t achievable.  Often times, they also believe (rightly or wrongly) their goals are not financially worthy
– This, however provides them with a independance from the larger economic and political landscape
– Often times you see the term -’small and fragile’ termed with cultural organisations
– They often aim to do social good and in some cases the line between social and cultural entrepreneurs is not clear.

Slide 2
– That being said, they have been responsible for a lot of the cultural and social change through books, television, movies etc.  In that sense, there are many big cultural entrepreneurs that are economically powerful and can provide real change
– technology has aided the growth of the cultural entrepreneur with the cost of doing business decreasing – though getting paid could be harder
– Cultural entrepreneurs are often drawn to centres that are liberal – but this is not always the case.

Slide 3
The first example of a cultural entrepreneur
David Burton
– A Toowoomba playwright who has made a name for himself in the local area through plays, podcasting and putting together ‘troups’ to take theatre out to the remote regions
– He has written and produced plays for himself and other clients
– He has also hosted a successful podcast (Stuff and Things) and created his entire business around the theatrical realm

Slide 4
Another example is The Grid here in Toowoomba
– This is the only one on my short list here that occupies a building
– They are an artist collective but also educate young people in art – both visual and performing
– The have a gallery space and also do music as well
– They have committed themselves to increasing the cultural awareness and opportunities to those living in the local regions

Slide 5
Finally, I am going to go a bit further afield and take a risk – suggesting Mike Sulka from the motor racing world
– Sulka doesn’t have a background (that I know of) in engineering or driving
– Rather he has established websites, had a go at creating a dedicated motor racing social network
– He has employed writers and photographers and dedicated his writing and computing abiltiy to motorsport.
– You may want to call him an internet entrepreneur or media entrepreneur but he has added to the cultural space of motorsport in interesting ways

Slide 6
No one on the list here are massively wealthy people but the all share a want a belief that they can add to the cultural sphere of the geographical location and their areas of interest.