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About this weblog
Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this weblog are those of the authors and not of their respective institutions.

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In the Pipeline: Don't miss Derek Lowe's excellent commentary on drug discovery and the pharma industry in general at In the Pipeline

Copyfight

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September 28, 2005

Until You're Ready for OpenCourseWare

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Posted by Alan Wexelblat

...there will be Wikibooks. OpenCourseWare is MIT's effort to place online, for free access, all the teaching materials from every one of its courses. I think it's one of the most insanely great ideas to hit the Web this decade. The MIT OCW site links to other OCW projects starting up worldwide.

However, this is all college-level stuff and there's a lot of learning to be done before that. To help out, wouldn't it be great if you had a kindergarten-to-college collection of texts that were free and open, using Wikipedia's model to help promote quality? Yes, actually, it would. So, according to Daniel Terdiman's story for CNET, the Wikipedia Foundation has created Wikibooks, a project to publish this kind of free and open-to-use curriculum material.

The two-year-old project (shows how behind the times I am) has over 11,000 texts available at this point, including a still-small offshoot called Wikijunior, which specifically aims at early learners with short (48 page) chidren's texts.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Use


COMMENTS

1. Brad Hutchings on September 28, 2005 8:28 PM writes...

I was looking at the Wikibooks site today with a world-renowned literacy expert. We were looking for something that would be appropriate for, say, a 4th grader who reads at 1st grade level. I'd like to take a few books that are freely available and turn them into picture books with RealeWriter, a product which I actually develop and is used in thousands of schools. Two problems...

(1) many of the books are covered by GNU Documentation License, which has to be reprinted with any printing or transformative use of the book. You might imagine kid-friendly formats which don't have 8 pages available for printing a license!! Or kids/parents/teachers who don't give a damn -- you know, they'll accept a one line copyright message, but don't want to waste the toner printing the Communist manifesto on everything they share. Orlowski's blistering (and I should also add "unanswered") critique of Creative Commons comes to mind.

(2) I'm looking for stuff that's appropriate for a 4th grader in this thing, that is purportedly a source of knowledge, and I find this. Can we all agree that this isn't an appropriate project for any school? Or maybe we can't. I trust a real textbook publisher to have processes in place that would avoid this. The 10,000 monkey model doesn't show much capacity for discretion.

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