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Friday, December 08, 2006


Positive feedback

I think it was Brendan Scott who coined the term kablooey (see this presentation in PDF format) for the positive feedback of Free and Open Source Software, and particularly the GNU GPL. But recently I've got to thinking: why is it that both Google and Yahoo (and hey, even Nutch) are so big on Creative Commons? Why didn't this ever happen for software? Or any other given licence?

Sure, it's lots of reasons: Creative Commons has some funky technology, like RDF, that makes it easier for search engines to find licensed stuff. They've got brilliant marketing. And there are other reasons.

But something kind of disturbing just occurred to me. These search engines have Creative Commons features, and no other open content features. That's okay, but it does, in a sense, advertise Creative Commons. And this creates positive feedback: people use Creative Commons, search engines enhance support for Creative Commons, more people learn about Creative Commons, and more people use it. Etc.

So I hear people saying "yeah, but that's natural - the cream rises to the top". But it's more than that. There are people who have never heard of any type of open content licensing. And now Creative Commons is going to be the first they hear about the idea.

In summary, I think the other great licences may have been ahead of their time. Creative Commons came along at just the right time, with Web 2.0 happening and all that. And all those people who'd never given a thought to how to share legally were waiting, even if they didn't know it.

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