blogging, control and open source

I’ve been sort of trying to get blogging again on WordPress lately, and as part of that, I’ve been paying more attention to the blogs I’m following using the WordPress Reader function. Recently, on Om Malik’s blog, I saw this item, pointing to the blog of photographer Eric Kim:

Instagram is now like Facebook

I clicked because I’ve been thinking grumbling thoughts lately about Instagram and its Twitter preview hiding ways.

OK, yeah, algorithm hate — it seems that every social network eventually adds features for bubbling up, through the magic of computer science, potentially interesting items you may have missed. These features disrupt the straight chronological feed presentation that many users prize (for themselves or for their followers). I know about these sentiments. I don’t share them — I like the option of “smart” timeline presentation. But, to each their own.

Anyway, I was interested to read, lower down, his suggestion: Start your own blog, and use WordPress.

I agree with this. I too am using WordPress, in part because WordPress works well, and in part because WordPress is open source software, and I’m an open source software loving sort. I was intrigued, further down, to see that all of Kim’s site content was open source:

Awesome! I clicked this link, assuming I’d find a creative commons license, but found instead a pair of essays about Kim’s ideas around open source photography:

OK, that sounds good. But what about licensing? I couldn’t Ctrl-F my way to finding the word “license” anywhere, so I broke down and read a bit more closely. I found this:

I also wanted to announce that I have recently made all of my photos on Flickr available for free as full-resolution downloads.

The terms he described sounded like a creative commons non-commercial license, which I don’t really consider to be open source, but whatever. Interestingly, the license he’s actually using is more permissive than he describes. He’s chosen the Public Domain Mark 1.0 license, which states that, “You can copy, modify, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.”

As for the content on his site, there’s no license, but this chunk of text suggests that he may be talking about something else when he says “open source”:

So, interestingly, he’s at once ceding more control (over his pictures) and less control (over his blog posts) than he seems to intend. Even among open source software enthusiasts, it’s sort of common to downplay/misunderstand/dismiss licensing, and to insist that what really matters is something else: community, process, governance, etc. All of that definitely matters, but we can’t forget about licensing — copyright laws enforce a no-sharing-allowed default setting, so when we set out to collaborate freely, we need to explicitly change that setting, and open source licensing is how that’s done.

Speaking of which — I hadn’t yet put any license information of my own on this blog, which made it ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. I fixed that with a visit to the creative commons license chooser page and some wordpress widget box-fiddling.

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