Graduation ceremony – Hendrick van der Burgh – Public Domain
There is a growing distrust of higher education among political conservatives. The linked Chronicle of Higher Education article discusses the phenomenon as it pertains particularly to American politics.
A majority of Republicans and right-leaning independents think higher education has a negative effect on the country, according to a new study released by the Pew Research Center on Monday. The same study has found a consistent increase in distrust of colleges and universities since 2010, when negative perceptions among Republicans was measured at 32 percent. That number now stands at 58 percent.
For years, higher education has been viewed favorably by liberals and less so by conservatives, Mr. Gross said, but political controversies in the past year have drawn attention and increased the negative perception. Protests and incidents of speakers being actively opposed or threatened by students are widely reported, he said, and are often one of the few ways in which the general population encounters college campuses.
A change in the demographics of both parties has also influenced the mistrust of colleges, he said. Whereas 50 years ago, the best predictor of conservative alignment was a high level of education, Mr. Hopkins said, “the popular base of the Republican party is less and less white-collar professionals and is more and more white working-class non-college-educated voters.”
It probably makes sense for conservatives to want their supporters to be less well educated. I wonder what they would consider the optimum level of education. Presumably they would want them to be able to read a little, and be able to do some simple arithmetic, but nothing too sophisticated. Check out the linked article for a deeper look.
You might be aware of the website dedicated to the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD.) You can visit the site and see another great picture every day. Some people even set things up so their computer’s desktop image is the APOD changing daily. It’s a NASA website and just one of the ways that organization shares its discoveries with the public. Today I’m going to direct you to another one called the NASA Image and Video Library. They have brought together about sixty of their media archives into one source. Here’s an article on Space.com about the library.
Here are some samples of the images available. They link to the much larger originals. These images are Public Domain.
As you know, my novels are published with a Creative Commons license. I use Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (CC-BY-SA), but there are other variations, depending on how you want to share your work. TechnoLlama, a blog I follow, has a piece on the resurgence of antipathy toward Creative Commons. (TechnoLlama by Andres Guadamuz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.) That license is the same as the one I use, with the addition of the NonCommercial part. That means that Andres doesn’t want people re-using his work for commercial purposes, while I don’t mind if they do.
It is hard to imagine nowadays, but for a few years during the last decade Creative Commons was relentlessly attacked by some content owners, copyright maximalists and collective societies.
However, I have noticed a resurgence in criticism of Creative Commons.
Creative Commons has been extremely successful since its creation, and we must welcome debate and input about things that can be improved. At some point CC was seen as anti-establishment, a direct attack on copyright from clueless academics and pirates. After the open access movement gained traction, an interesting transition occurred, CC became a part of the establishment.
I’m glad that Creative Commons came along when it did. It took the copyright that is automatically applied to creative works and gave it greater scope and flexibility. Now, thanks to CC, I can share my work under my terms, while still retaining the power and authority of copyright. Before CC the only option was to declare the work Public Domain, relinquishing copyright.
Thanks to Cat Johnson at Shareable for making me aware of this. Ryan Merkely, CEO of Creative Commons, has written a series of blog posts about sharing and growing the commons. As you know, if you’ve followed my blog, Creative Commons is all about giving the creators of cultural goods a way to use their copyright to share their work under their own terms. You know that I have published my work, Green Comet and Parasite Puppeteers, under a Creative Commons Attribution and Share-Alike license (CC-BY-SA.) This license means that you can take those stories and do whatever you like with them, including re-releasing them, as long as you give attribution to me, the original creator (BY) and you share your version in the same way (SA.) My reward is in the sharing, and in seeing people enjoy and expand upon my work. Unfortunately, unless people take the time to tell me they’ve enjoyed it or used it to further their own creativity, my reward is largely theoretical. Ryan Merkely and Creative Commons are planning on making it more tangible.
Here are some quotes from Cat Johnson’s article:
We’re now faced with the most restrictive copyright laws in history, not to mention that much of the world’s scientific knowledge is locked behind paywalls.
Recently, numerous medical publications opened up papers related to the Zika virus. It was an acknowledgement from the medical establishment that openness leads more quickly to solutions.
“What if we were to say, ‘Let’s open cancer,’” (says Merkely.) “What if we opened up all the research that relates to this work? Let’s shine a bright light on this disease that we’ve allowed to hide in the shadows and behind paywalls, and crush it with innovation. What would that look like?”
Merkely’s blog posts are here, here and here. And here is an article that he contributed to the Globe and Mail in September 2015. Very brief summary: Sharing does not expect compensation, as in the so-called sharing economy. That is a transaction, not sharing. In true sharing the return is to the reputation of the sharer, and in the gratitude of the receiver. So the receiver gets the immediate benefit of whatever is shared. And the sharer gets long-term benefits: reputation, gratitude and the stimulation of more sharing as their gift is paid forward.
This is good, and it appears to be enough. After all, there are already over a billion works being shared under a Creative Commons license. But Creative Commons is planning to make it even better. In the welter of information that we live in today, a creator’s work is easily lost. While the people benefitting from the sharing might want to reward the sharer, it’s too easy for it all to get lost in their hectic daily lives. So the creator can be left in a partial vacuum, with little or no feedback to let them know how their work is received.
Ryan Merkely says that Creative Commons is going to work toward “ensuring that the legal, technical and policy infrastructure we create is designed to foster cooperation and sharing.” They want to make the Internet sharing-friendly. They want to make the works in the commons “easy to discover and curate, to use and remix,” and to make the creators “feel valued for their contributions.” To do that, Creative Commons should “do more to offer tools, education, advocacy, and community-building.”
For the next 3-5 years CC will focus their efforts on three things: discovery, collaboration and advocacy. Discovery means making the commons more usable. CC works need to be found, and then easily used. This means, for example, search, curation, meta-tagging, analytics and one-click attribution. Collaboration means just that. Developing ways for users of the commons to work together. Advocacy means CC continuing to use their position to grow and improve the commons.
Sharing is not about Uber or Airbnb. It’s about creators sharing their work, and the recipients being able to show their gratitude. It’s about growing the commons, and rewarding those who help it grow.
A US judge (George King) has ruled that Warner/Chappell, which acquired the copyright to Happy Birthday in 1988, only bought rights to specific arrangements of the melody, not to the actual song. Warner/Chappell got the rights when it bought another company, which was the successor to yet another company, which got the rights from sisters Mildred and Patty Hill, who wrote the song Good Morning to All in 1893. That song was meant to be sung in class by school children, and the melody was later combined with the Happy Birthday lyrics that we know today. If you’re as confused as I am, then you’re getting a glimpse at the mess which is current copyright law.
This judgement applies only to the US, and only to part of the song. Other parts of the song and other renditions of it may still be encumbered, so think twice before posting your birthday party on Youtube if it contains any part of the Happy Birthday song. Read the linked articles for more clarificatioon.