The previous version of week 3 was about “Becoming A Digital Citizen: Understanding Intellectual Property” which seems pretty close to this week’s material in the new version of the course. Week 2 is entitled: Becoming a Metaliterate Digital Citizen.
For the original course, I was disappointed as I thought we would end up doing a deeper dive into the issues around academic publishing and journals, and instead, we were treated to a one-size-fits-all promotional video of how big academic journal publishers are pillaging the land of academic freedom. To be honest, I learned far more from Michael Geist’s posts about the CRTC hearings back in December 2018 on potential reforms to the Copyright Act to address university usage of academic materials, and even more from the recent judicial decision in Canada. The current proposals before the White House to temporarily change academic licensing to be more “open” received a lot of backlash from academic publishers who pay authors nothing, pay reviewers nothing, and charge huge fees to schools to access the online magazines.
My real complaint at the time, however, was that most of the materials lacked any nuance between the concept of “free” vs. “open”. It just assumed “open” was better (free access, free mobility) and that “free” was the wrong term (confusing free movement with free cost). I don’t like the term because creators decide on licenses, but “open” is recipient-centric, not creator-centric. The materials also touted the idea of the 5Rs of openness (the ability to retain, reuse, revise, remix or redistribute) but they are far more complicated than as presented. I did like the focus on Creative Commons Licenses, at the time.
With the new format for the course, I found the CCL stuff a bit lighter than I was expecting.
Ethical Use of Information
Originally, the course had a “week 4” focus on the Ethical Use of Information which it is now bundled into this week. My favourite part was a great series of videos called “Everything is a Remix”. It shows, in a multitude of examples, how ideas and even content are remixed and re-used, built upon, edited, etc., all as part of new creations. And for me, it leads to a kind of intellectual conundrum. If, in many spheres of life like science, the goal is to build off of the efforts of others and to advance learning, how do you do that while respecting the intellectual rights of others in an ethical way? As I said, the remix videos are great, and worth watching even if you aren’t taking the course. The remastered version is below:
Funny, back when I did the first part of the original course, I thought licensing, remixing and ethics should be all part of the same week (as they are now). Yet now that I have done it, I feel they both get a bit too short treatment. The new assignment is to muse about the ethical use of information, which was easy for me, as it frequently comes up in forums dealing with astrophotography and the appropriate use of any images that are posted.
On to Week 3!