What does online community mean to you?
Jono Bacon, the Ubuntu community organizer, is working on a new project The Art of Community. This new project revolves around the creation of, and discussion of a book, which Jono is releasing under that same title, and licensing with a Creative Commons Liscence. The main marketing strategy seems to be a “get the word out” campaign, utilizing the already thriving Ubuntu community, and other online networks. Creating a community around projects in order to attract a fan-base, especially a project about community, is a particularly novel concept, and just seems to make sense. Mr. Bacon has a history of standing up to make a buzz about free software, and copy-left, his recently released Severed Fifth album is a great example of this. His implementation of “Street Teams”, composed of music enthusiasts, and supporters of the work in general, is a great example of how community can replace traditional marketing. Here we have a relatively high profile individual, capable of attracting a certain level of attention, releasing work created with open source software under a Creative Commons license, and hopefully inspiring other people to do the same.
It’s not just that getting the word out about F/OSS is difficult in a closed source economy, but combating the negative attention from stories like this one is an ongoing uphill battle. In light of this, to show people that it is possible, easy, and rewarding to embark on the path of open source publishing is a great thing in my world. People would benefit to grasp the energizing fact that the open source world is a very ENABLING reality, it creates opportunity to function simply by the virtue of its own existence.
While this argument, this collection of words, is representative of a fact in reality, people simply don’t embrace that fact, and, for some reason reject that reality.
Weather it’s simply the addiction of the familiar, or the fear of the strange, the rejection of the concept of “free”, or the fear of non-interoperability I find it a serious struggle to share with people embedded in a closed source experience of things the true benefits and excitement of Open Source and copyleft. Students and artists in particular, the people who stand the most to gain, are those that seem the most weary of what they stand to lose, which is not surprising, since there is so much advertisement attention spent in targeting them.
The way to combat this, and spread the love, is by example. We need more examples of success to sway the tide in favor of open source. To sway the perception of favor from copyright to copyleft, and to generate excitement and curiosity towards the open-source and Copy-left world. In this, I tip my hat to Mr. Bacon for standing up for the ideals that for many prop up the open source world, and certainly prop up the Creative Commons movement.
There is no escaping the reality that community is what really ensures the success of a good project (I’m looking at you, Ubuntu), no matter how technically sound or enjoyable that project is or is not in and of itself. The merit of a thing is not measured by dollars, or by how much advertisement is spent on it, but by the amount of people that gather about it, and their continued excitement. This is community, and community drives the market. One could say that without community there is no market, no marketability, no culture, no longevity of knowledge or social wisdom, nothing. So why do we seem to be entangled in an economy and culture that punishes and restricts the community which props it up, and ensures it success? The current copyright climate is more and more nothing but a stifling instrument to creativity and community, and in order to keep our cultural identities our own, in order to stay free in our expression of that culture, and celebration of those expressions we need the sanity that Creative Commons offers us, the engaging and enabling effect of the open source world, and the great communities that gather around these projects to stand up and make a positive noise. A living, tangible, and visible monument to freedom and creativity in a closed source, copyright world.