What is Open Content?


The movement toward open content reflects a growing shift in the way academics in many parts of the world are conceptualizing education to a view that is more about the process of learning than the information conveyed in their courses. Information is everywhere; the challenge is to make effective use of it. Part of the appeal of open content is that it is also a response to both the rising costs of traditionally published resources and the lack of educational resources in some regions, and a cost-effective alternative to textbooks and other materials. As customizable educational content is made increasingly available for free over the Internet, students are learning not only the material, but also skills related to finding, evaluating, interpreting, and repurposing the resources they are studying in partnership with their teachers.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - alan alan Jan 27, 2010

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the museums you know best?

  • Museums can create more "social good" and catalyze inquiry, scholarship, innovation, and knowledge creation through policies that emphasize open content, as opposed to those that create unnecessarily restricted content. Museums can also use open content as a way to transition themselves away from unprofitable rights-and-reproductions practices, and practices in which they charge large fees to institutions and researchers. See Imagining a Smithsonian Commons [Edson, 2009] and Museum Commons, a Professional Interaction (Edson/Cherry, 2010) for examples and links to exemplary projects. - michael.edson michael.edson May 4, 2010
  • Museums have an opportunity to contribute as well as to benefit from the use of open content, and I hope that will not be overlooked. - ninmah ninmah May 5, 2010

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • The open content movement is portrayed through the lens of education, but it is really part of a broader philosophy about copyright, knowledge creation, and social entrepreneurship. Lawrence Lessig's "The Future of Ideas" and James Boyle's "The Public Domain" are important markers in this movement. - michael.edson michael.edson May 4, 2010
  • I like to emphasize that open content is a more scalable knowledge-creation engine than the bespoke manufacturing model used by research institutions in the past.
  • Museums, in general, have very low Intellectual Property IQ's. The Public Domain and the copyright ecosystem in general are not well understood.- michael.edson michael.edson May 4, 2010
  • Museums can look to the Flickr Commons project for inspiration/examples of how open content (Flickr COmmons photos are labeled "no known copyright restrictions") and a clear IP policy can produce knowledge and catalyze communities at scale.- michael.edson michael.edson May 4, 2010

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • Museums will begin to learn that their customers/visitors posses enormous expertise, and that the assets of collecting institutions, when inserted into the culture without unnecessary restrictions on reuse, can catalyze unexpected discoveries/creative output, learning, and knowledge creation *outside* the walls of the institutions. They'll also discover that open content can enable new kinds of scholarship, research, and collaboration inside and between institutions. - michael.edson michael.edson May 4, 2010
  • Museums can use Open Content - - and openness in general -- as a path to reinvention. They can use openness as a way to rediscover connections with audiences and the Real Work that can be performed with *our* content out in the real world. Tapscott/Williams in Wikinomics cite an example of an open content patent commons at IBM and observe "IBM provides a surprising example of how a large, mature company with an engrained proprietary culture can embrace openness and self-organization as catalysts for reinvention." (Tapscott/Williams 2006, p 83)
  • your response here
  • another response here

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?


Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project sharing form.
(I'll try to come back and do the form - michael.edson michael.edson May 4, 2010)