Taking a first step into Creative Commons Licensing

 

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Bates Motel (Flickr) by Nick Kenrick CC BY 2.0

Okay, so I thought I’d try my hand at creating a blog post that tackles the daunting task of copyright…

oooohhh *cue spooky music*…

At first I was like ‘ahhh stuff it’, not only does that look hard (and come on, let’s admit it, kinda boring) but I can just use my own photos right? I have  almost 20,000 photos just taking up space on my hard-drive, I’m sure I can find one to suit each occasion… right??? Well, let’s see what I can find in my photos that is as appropriate as the above image for representing something daunting, scary and unknown.

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Blue Ghost, authored by J S Camilleri is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 4.0

Okay, so this image is kind of scary. But really it doesn’t actually convey what the first image did, which was the feeling of entering into something unknown and possibly treacherous. It’s just sort of weird and unrelated.

Using someone else’s work in this occasion was not only easier (it took me about ten minutes of searching through my own photos to find something, compared to typing ‘spooky house’ into Flickr and finding an image in about thirty seconds) but it was also way more effective in conveying what I mean. So I’m no longer putting it off and pretending that copyright doesn’t exist.

 

 

Here is my simple 3-step process to using Creative Commons for the digital novice.

 

Step One: Finding Media 

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Robbery not allowed by Anders Sandberg (CC BY 2.0)

It is important to keep in mind that you can’t just use anything you want. That is probably the most important thing to keep in mind. You can only use media where the creator has licensed it under Creative Commons for your intended use. Otherwise you are stealing and it is against the law.

OH NO! WHAT DO YOU MEAN? WHERE COULD I EVER FIND MEDIA THAT THE CREATOR HAS LICENSED FOR ME TO USE?!

Well, luckily people all over the world are creating media content and licensing it for use by others AND it is actually very easy to find. You can find media for use on a variety of websites, but if (like me) you are just starting out it is probably easiest to use the Creative Commons website. Not only does this explain copyright and Creative Commons in Australia, but it provides links to sites with databases full of media that is licensed for your use.

Step Two: Understanding the License 

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Copyright license choice by opensource.com CC BY SA 2.0

Not all works under Creative Commons have the same licensing terms, so it is important to work this out by finding the little blue hyperlink button that will direct you to the licensing conditions of the work. There are four basic types of licensing under Creative Commons, but the most useful one is CC BY 2.0. Under this license work can be used for whatever purpose and changed or modified as long as you attribute the creator of the work. I won’t go into the details of the other licenses because their full terms and conditions will be outlined in the licensing hyperlink provided with the work you intend to use.  Just make sure you read and understand the conditions of the license that the work is released under before you use  it.

(NB. If a work is not released under a license then it is considered to be in the Public Domain and can be used without permission. If you release media that is publicly available and want to retain your rights over it make sure you license the work. You can work out what sort of license you want here. See above image ‘Blue Ghost’ for example.)

 

Step Three: Attribute the Creator 

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Ugg & Lee- hyperlinks by Craig R. Kirby CC BY 2.0

All works used under Creative Commons must be properly attributed to the creator. This means including the author and title of the work, providing working hyperlinks to the original work and the license under which it is released, and when necessary stating if the work has been modified and then re-licensing it under the original license. Make sure you do this! Otherwise it is unfair to the creator and you are in breach of the copyright.

 

It might seem daunting at first, or even a little bit boring, but once you get into using Creative Commons it becomes easier and suddenly a whole new world of media is opened up to you. This is just the briefest introduction to using Creative Commons in Australia and there is so so so much more. But for a digital novice, it is enough… for now.

Goodbye not so scary copyright house..

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Saying Goodbye by Kylie_Jaxxon CC BY SA 2.0

 

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The Two Faces of the Digital Coin: exploring the potential and pit-falls of an increasingly digital world

As a recent online explorer and self-confessed digital luddite, the dystopic vision presented in Episode 2 of Black Mirrors ‘Fifteen Million Merits‘ showcases precisely what it is I have always feared about our obsession with screens. It is why, until now, I have refused smart phones, e-readers, and social media accounts.

I remember a bus ride to work a few years ago. It was a cold, dreary winter morning and everyone was shuffling on board in their work suits and trench coats. Just another dead-beat moment of capitalist drudgery. Suddenly the world was brightened. The sun began to rise above the low-lying clouds, bursting through in bright gold and orange beams, turning the sky into a painter’s canvas, a momentary glimpse into some sort of heaven. I was so encapsulated, so heart-warmed at how the world can offer incredible beauty in an otherwise dull moment. And then I realised, looking out over the bus full of workers, that no one was looking. Everyone had a phone out, eyes glued to the screen, oblivious to the beautiful sunrise. It re-affirmed everything I thought I knew about the danger of screens- the nasty, self-absorbing, soul-sucking world of the ”black mirror.”

Fast-forward a few years and I’m finally making a leap into that ”nasty” world, digi-fying my life and creating an online presence. The reason is that I’ve finally come to understand the flip-side of the coin, the unlimited potential that the digital world offers. We are still tapping into this potential, still exploring and discovering new facets of the digital world, new ways in which to connect and share information. And that is the holy grail of what we can get out of a digital world- connecting and sharing globally.

Juggling the benefits of a technology with its potential for misuse is not a new concept. The digital world can be (albeit, controversially) compared to money and guns in the sense that we are forced to consider whether the pit-falls are worth the potential. Whether we decide to hate the tool, or the abuser of it. But whilst guns offer the risk for violence and money offers the risk for greed, what is it exactly that we fear from screens?

Fifteen Million Merits seems to hit the nail on the head, with the main character Bing desperately searching for something that is ‘real.’ And this is what I too feared on the bus that morning years ago. As we increasingly plug in to the digital world and it’s dizzying array of virtual possibilities, we risk tuning out to what is actually happening around us, to what is literally, physically, 3-dimensionally real.

So how do we navigate these murky waters? How do we tap in to the endless possibilities for connection, sharing, learning, and creating offered by the digital world without tuning out of our everyday, here-and-now, real-life existence?

Online Personas: creating YOU

After finishing Adam’s blog posts and various bits of reading for the week I couldn’t help but feel a little overwhelmed and flabbergasted about it all. Not so much because of the readings themselves, but more so because it suddenly dawned on me how much the internet has changed since I started to use it. I’m a self-admitted luddite, and although I interacted with the digital sphere as a teenager, for the past nine years or so I have retreated into a happy little back-water hole where I can bemoan things like FaceSpace and Twittering and other nonsensical things that make me sound like I was born in the 1940’s.

Although I enrolled in this unit out of necessity to complete my diploma, I was genuinely excited to do so. And the reason for that was because I recently realised that as a writer in the 21st century I need to be able to canvas myself across various digital platforms, and create what K. Barbour and D. Marshall refer to as a ‘public self’ (2012.) They discuss how this public self uses new media to ‘[encourage] discourse, and [focus] on sharing ideas and networking’, and although they are referring to this in the role of academia, it is relevant also to my budding professional career as a writer in enabling me to share my work online and obtain more work.  Given the opportunities now available online for writers it is clear why I was enthusiastic to learn the field, and still am. But gosh, golly gosh, holy mother gosh…

When I was a teenager and spending every hour I could on the internet it was all msn, chat-rooms and trolling. The beauty of those platforms was the big A word, anonymity. Sure you created profiles, but most of the time they were all total, utter lies. With names like skater_girl_69 and pink_fairy_donut_blaster, or whatever it was you wanted, there was absolutely no repercussions for what you said or did online because the persona you created basically didn’t exist in the real world. But now with facebook, twitter, instagram, tumblr, about.me, wordpress, and the list goes on… this anonymity no longer exists. Just as Adam (Multiple Me(s), 2016) said ‘there is no clear-cut online/offline separation.’

Adam has been asking us this week to think about our online persona’s and how we present ourselves through our online profiles. We have to think about these things for two reasons; firstly, because (as I’ve discussed)  how we present ourselves online reflects on our real-to-life, flesh-and-bone existences; and, secondly, because these personas aren’t just US transferred into the digital.

What I mean by that second point is that the way you present yourself on digital platforms is similar to how you might present yourself to a stranger. Normally when we meet a stranger there is a bit of ‘bum-sniffing’or sussing-out if you prefer. You present yourself in tidbits of information, like your job, or your interests and hobbies, things you’ve done and experienced. These things aren’t really you, they’re extraneous to you but they give the stranger a bit of an idea about you. Digital platforms are this magnified to an endless arena of strangers. And so it is very important to think about how you present yourself, about what version of ‘you’ you create, if you want to ‘[establish] an effective online presence.’ (A. Brown, Multiple Me(s), 2016.)

I find it interesting that I feel more exposed, more self-conscious, creating these online profiles than I do stepping out my front door and into the general public. I am thinking way more critically about my online presence than I am about my everyday presence. The question beckons, how do I want the world to perceive me?

 

References:

Barbour, K and Marshall, D 2012, ‘The academic online: constructing persona through the World Wide Web’, First Monday: Peer-reviewed Journal of the Internet, vol. 17, no. 9, 3 September, retrieved 18 July 2013,http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3969/3292#p3.

Brown, A. 2016, ‘Multiple Me(s): Thinking Through My Online Self’, Textures of A Textual World, available at: https://adamgbrown.wordpress.com/2016/03/11/multiple-mes-thinking-through-my-online-self/, accessed 14 March 2016.

 

 

 

Banana Trip

So, after a long stint of nothing (didn’t even realise I had created a blog in 2012) I’m going to try and get back on-board with the whole online life thing. Not quite sure what direction this will follow, I guess it’s a bit of a ‘watch this space’at the moment.

Anyway, thought I’d get stuck straight in by asking if anyone else is plagued by sudden and total trip-outs about reality?? I just went to the shops to buy a few groceries and as I was standing there trying to pick out some bananas I had this sudden intense feeling of ‘wow wtf.’ I was looking at this banana, at it’s tough, bright-yellow skin and thinking how extraordinary it really was. And suddenly it just seemed so strange. What are you doing here little banana? In this hard, bright, supermarket full of families doing their weekend shopping? You should be hanging off a tree somewhere tropical. There was no ethical or moral judgement, although plenty can be made, just a sudden and total awareness of the strangeness of the situation. I guess we get so use to the mundane that you forget how weird the way we live really is. And then it hits you, standing in the middle of a supermarket, and all the things you barely register in your mind because you’ve been seeing them all your life become extremely vivid and strange. I guess the feeling I’m trying to explain is surreal. Just wondering if anyone else gets sudden inexplicable bouts of surrealism?

 

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Photo courtesy of Roadtrip 2013 around Australia. Taken in Carnarvon, W.A., the home of WA’s booming banana bonanza…. catch a taste of the great life…