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Closing a door

FYI… Last week I resigned as Wikimedia Australia president.
Thanks to those who have given me their support this week and over the past two years. It’s not necessary to beg me to stay or inquire after my health.

See you at Gdansk?

17 May, 2010 • ,

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GLAM-WIKI bursaries & GLAM Challenge

Two pieces of GLAM-WIKI news.

The first is pretty cool: Wikimedia Australia is offering travel bursaries to Australian & New Zealand Wikimedians for attending GLAM-WIKI. Wikimedians represent! Come and be part of the collective face of ‘Wikipedia’ for lots of fancy museum peeps. The bursaries will cover your return airfare to Canberra. See Liam’s email for more details about how to apply.

The second is also pretty cool, at least I think so: Wikimedia Australia is sponsoring an editing “challenge” called GLAM Challenge.

(Note the dates on this image are not accurate … :)) You must declare that you intend to take part by July 24th, and then you have up to July 31st to make your edits for the Challenge. There are prizes! And although the theme is “Australian GLAM”, you don’t need to be Australian to take part. It’s quite open, so feel free to be creative in applying the theme.

19 July, 2009 • ,


Wikimedia Australia GLAMming it up - August 6-7, Canberra

“What is this GLAM?” I hear you ask. Why, it refers to Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums. What are sometimes called “memory institutions” or more plainly “cultural institutions”. “And what is this GLAM-WIKI?" I hear you further inquire. Why, it is a conference that Wikimedia Australia is organising! On August 6-7 this year. Currently about two months away. In Canberra.

The conference’s title is Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums & Wikimedia: Finding the common ground. It’s very much Liam Wyatt’s (WMAU’s VP) brainchild, borne out of his experiences talking to GLAM organisations and finding out how much they do or don’t know about Wikimedia, and thinking about how we (Wikimedia) can better work together with them for our mutual benefit. Check out the Why should you attend? list.

The conference has four themes —

Attendance is free but you do need to register. It will be held at the Australian War Memorial, one of our kind partners in this event.

It’s a couple of months away now, so please pass the word on about this event to any GLAM folk you know in the Australasian region. Expect to see further discussion about it at the Museums & Wikimedia group in the Museums 3.0 Ning site.

P.S. Register! Did I mention it was free?

10 June, 2009 • , , ,


Melbourne EDNA workshop this Friday

Some late breaking news. This Friday I’ll be speaking at an EDNA ICT Workshop at the State Library of Victoria. EDNA is “Australia’s free online network for educators”. Among other things, they run me.edu.au, which is pretty much Facebook for teachers, and a great calendar of educator events. I understand that they are an especially useful resource for casual teachers and others who fall through the cracks of the usual (state) teacher networks.

This workshop is part of a series of workshops around the country. My talk will be an updated ersion of the talk I gave at ACEC last year. Guaranteed to be better second time around! :D

18 May, 2009 • ,


Digital Economy Future Directions responses now published

The responses to the Digital Economy Future Directions paper are now up for all and sundry to read. Wikimedia Australia’s is among them (you can also read ours in a more friendly wiki format).

I haven’t had a browse over anyone else’s yet; if you spot anything interesting, please drop a comment and let me know.

17 May, 2009 •

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2009 Unlocking IP conference

Yesterday I came back from a 3-day stay in Sydney. I was up there for the 2009 Unlocking IP conference, the third in a set of three, held at the Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre at UNSW. I remember coming across the programme of the 2006 conference at some point and thinking how interesting it looked, so it was wonderful not just to attend but also to present at this year’s! (NB: Kylie Pappalardo has also posted some notes about this conference on her blog.)

Liam and I co-presented Wikimedia in copyright/copyright in Wikimedia, which is something of a grab-bag of topics that we thought might be of interest to legal academics and practitioners. I humbly submit that our experiences of “copyright in practice” and adjudication in the court of XfD-style “consensus” may be of interest to those mainly focused on the theory of how it all works. The feedback we received was very positive and I feel encouraged to expand one of my topics into a psuedo-academic essay.

Video, 25 min, licensed CC-BY-SA

Some highlights:

Graham Greenleaf, a co-director of AustLII, talked in the opening sessions on National and International Dimensions of the Public Domain. He raised the idea of creating a “peak body” to represent the public domain/public rights in copyright, perhaps by expanding the Australian Digital Alliance or by creating a new body. It seems a fitting conclusion to the Unlocking IP project — launching ideas for the next phase.

Delia Browne of MCEETYA (a government education body) gave two talks, of which I saw the first: The Open Education Revolution: Sharing Nicely, which was a comprehensive overview of how the movement for open education resources (OERs) has evolved around the world and particularly in Australia.

Anne Fitzgerald also gave multiple talks, the first being Re-use of Government Works. She talked about the notion of OA to PSI (open access to public sector information, i.e. government works) and how it has developed significantly in the last five years, and even more so in the last 12 months. Australia is a member of the OECD, which has made statements of support for OA to PSI (e.g. June 2008’s Seoul Declaration, in which members promised to create policies that “[m]ake public sector information and content, including scientific data, and works of cultural heritage more widely accessible in digital format.” But sadly unlike the EU, OECD promises are not binding.

The Cutler report on the national innovation review released in September 2008 made moderately supportive noises towards this and similar concepts. The DBCDE Future Directions for the Digital Economy consultation (report expected mid-2009) asked questions that are best addressed by a National Information Policy; indeed, this was Recommendation 7.7 in the Cutler report:

Australia should establish a National Information Strategy to optimise the flow of information in the Australian economy. The fundamental aim of a National Information Strategy should be to:

(My emphasis.) Well, we will see what DBCDE’s report says. There are a couple of good signs in recent times. One is the launch last week of the Government Information Licensing Framework website, which is more targeted at other government departments than the general public. A licensing framework is something that you might use to help you set up all your department’s information to be published under a permissive license by default. GILF was developed in Queensland and is, as their website proudly states, “leading the world in establishing a new approach to public sector information licensing.” Another is the Queensland government’s draft Right to Information Bill, which would complement the Freedom of Information Act. Where FoI is “pull” (you have to request the information to get it), RtI will apparently be “push”. It is not hard to remember criticisms made about FOI over the years, so if a “RtI” approach removes the ability of ministers to bin reports that make them look bad, that will be welcome news for all.

On the second day I enjoyed Roger Clarke on Open Access to Journal Content as a Case Study in Unlocking IP, a kind of “how far have we come?” retrospective. The paper has a lot of very interesting detail and numbers (they haven’t yet been published, but they should be available from the Unlocking IP website). It concludes that although progress has been made in creating the “appropriate legal context”,

…the exploitation of the opportunity has lagged, because of impediments to adoption, especially the lack of any positive incentive to self-deposit, and downright apathy. The outcomes to date are disappointing for proponents of OA and Unlocking IP. Only a small proportion of the literature is readily available, academics continue to be primarily dependent on the formal versions, academics continue to be uninformed and apathetic about self-deposit, and libraries continue to pay inflated prices to enable academics to gain access to the papers that they collectively wrote and that they collectively quality-assured. There are limited signs of the adoption process speeding up sufficiently to deliver significant results. OA and Unlocking IP in the area of journal articles are at serious risk of being still-born.

Hm… what to do? I thought from what I learned at Arthur Sale’s open access presentation at LCA that institutional mandatory self-deposit policies were the answer (ie. the university requires that all academics put a copy of their journal articles into the university’s institutional repository). But according to Roger Clarke that would only increase the percentage of deposited articles to 30-50%. Perhaps the other 50% is the existing, unarchived works? Can academics somehow get extra cred for depositing their back archive?

In the same session, James Dalziel spoke about Successes and Challenges for open IP business models. He went through a detailed “hypothetical” comparison between a “traditional IP” software company and an “open IP” one (ie open source). His conclusion was something like: although open IP businesses can make money, it’s an order of magnitude below the potential of traditional IP companies. Therefore, traditional IP companies cannot adapt to an open IP approach, and all that is left is WAR!

I was one of the commentators on this session and I responded that since our (FLOSS) legal foundation is valid, all we can be attacked with is FUD (negative marketing), and even that doesn’t work forever. And calling it “war” is a strange thing, since it is a one-sided war, as we aren’t aiming to topple traditional IP companies — that will just be a completely unintentional side-effect.

The conference ended with the launch of the Public Rights Licenses Database, which aims to collect all the licenses that grant general users some rights — open source and open content licenses, from the Free Software Foundation to Creative Commons, and every other two-bit license in between. :) The earliest one dates to 1979! It also indexes licenses by country — I was surprised to learn of several Australia-specific licenses I had not heard of before. Equally, if you know of any licenses that should be there but are not, email them and let them know! (feedback at worldlii.org)

(I notice that the WTFPL is not listed, but, uh…maybe there’s a reason for that.)

In summary, Unlocking IP was a fascinating crash course in where Australian copyright, open access and other ‘open’ movements might be going. Thank you to the Cyberspace Law Centre for hosting this event and provoking these conversations.

20 April, 2009 • , , ,

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"Backstage Pass" event at the Powerhouse Musem this Friday - there's still places!

Friday will be an exciting day for Wikipedia editors living in Sydney. Wikimedia Australia is piloting a programme called the Backstage Pass, which aims to “share the expertise of real-world institutions with our wiki-expertise”. Which hopefully means: cool secret access tour to interesting institutions for us, and an improved Wikimedia prescence and understanding for them.

Friday will be our first such event, with the Powerhouse Museum (website, Wikipedia). The Powerhouse is without a doubt one of the most “digitally progressive” museums in Australia. They were the first Australian museum to take part in the Flickr ‘Commons’ project and write an excellent blog exploring the issues digital media and museums.

This pilot event is almost entirely due to the efforts of Wikimedia Australia’s VP, Liam Wyatt (although he set most of the works in motion before joining the committee). The museum staff are reportedly very interested in meeting us — they are even providing a professional photographer to take photos at our behest. You sincerely could not ask for better access to a cultural institution.

Due to some late cancellations we have space for a few more editor-types to join us. If you can wrangle a wiki page and can spare this Friday, please email Liam or myself to RSVP. We’d love to see you there! (Well me, metaphorically, since I live in Melbourne and won’t be attending…But Liam will provide in-person gratitude :))

11 March, 2009 •


Wikimedia Australia now open for members

I actually have real posts to write, but each night I sit down to write them it’s like 1am and really time for me to sleep. And thus it is this way again tonight.

Today I have been mostly wiki-busy informing people that Wikimedia Australia is now accepting members. It took us really months to get to this point, and it’s still far from perfect, but it was close enough that we wanted to push it open.

The response, in less than 24 hours, has been excellent. Obviously people are sick of the suspense! It is exciting, and also heartening, and maybe even a tiny bit scary, that people trust us enough that they commit to doing something ‘real’, parting with their money. It is scary because I want to make sure that we respect that trust, and do things that make them proud to be a member, inspire them to get involved, and keen to support us in the future — by time, money, or simply word of mouth.

Adam of FLOSS Manuals informed me that since I published my last post on the FLOSS Manuals Inkscape book, they sold four more copies. Woo! Well done Wikimedians, if that was you. :)

12 November, 2008 • ,


Wikimedia chapter reports

I was working busily this week on writing a monthly activity report for Wikimedia Australia. This is an idea that came out of a May 2008 chapters meeting in the Netherlands (which WMAU did not attend). In fact I don’t think I was even aware of the idea until it was revived again recently in inter-chapter discussion. It seems well on its way to becoming an institution now, seeing as it has a meta page and a mailing list, which is great, because I think it will be really interesting and helpful for chapters to learn from one another and also for prospective chapter-founders to get a sense of what is possible.

Since it was WMAU’s first report, I wrote a bit more background and goings-on for the previous few months rather than just the one. Thus, you can now read the August to October report. As always I welcome comments and feedback.

07 November, 2008 • ,


Good things afoot regarding public sector information licensing in Australia

While I’m at it…there are lots of promising rumblings at the moment from various parts of Australia regarding the licensing of public sector information (PSI), ie. government data.

The federal government just recently released a report on the review of the National Innovation System. As reported by Creative Commons Australia, it includes a specific recommendation that Australian governments use a Creative Commons license. Of course for Wikimedians, the trick is in exactly which license they choose to use.

The Victorian government recently held an Inquiry into Improving Access to Victorian Public Sector Information and Data, which had a Discussion Paper with lots of favourable ideas about using Creative Commons licensing. I made a submission on behalf of Wikimedia Australia. I emphasised the need for works to not have NC or ND restrictions in order to be directly usable by Wikimedia projects.

There was a bunch of other stuff I wanted to mention, like open access, but it was rather written under deadline pressure and I found it hard to weave into a cohesive narrative in response to the Discussion Paper. Perhaps I should have just gone off on my own ramble anyway. :)

Tomorrow is Software Freedom Day and apparently I’m speaking at that, so I should have more to report very soon.

20 September, 2008 • , ,


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