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

 

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… 

here now construct

Friday 31st August 8.56 AM Sitting on my couch after driving home from the city.

I’d like to say that I’m freaking out, to give the story urgency. But I’m not. Looking over my notes there’s lots of things I’d like to say- embellish this, move that observation over here, connect the dots… give the story flow. But sometimes it doesn’t work like that. Sometimes moments are mundane, disconnected, trivial. Our minds crave the construction, to go ‘hey, here’s something interesting to think about, it’s concise, it has meaning, it’s worth your time!’ Right now I’m trying not to do that.

 

7.09 AM Driving out to the city in what I thought would be pre-peak hour traffic.

I tried to start the derive from where Shane suggested, but somehow it didn’t work like that. Driving out to the city I was already constructing it; envisioning what would draw my attention, pithy lines to include, snapshots of interesting moments. In my head, the derive was mapped out in images and half-formed sentences. It’s not that I dislike the ‘here now’ approach of the Situationalists, but as an individual, in a world full of other individuals, I am use to constructing. Constructing meaning, self, image, personality, story, past, present, future… And so I drove and constructed my derive.

 

7.30(ish) Parking near the water fountain.

Putting coins into the parking meter I am shocked out of my fantasy of words and moments and feelings. Someone calls out ‘Not till 8.30!’ He means the parking. I laugh, he laughs, we joke about wasting money. I feel good. A real human interaction with a stranger, with someone who could have just turned their head, pretended their conscience didn’t just urge them to help someone out. I’ve lost my doomy mood- how can I bitch about cities now? I try desperately to get it back as I walk to the carousel.  I can’t help but worry that the scummy–looking dude over there is going to break into my car. Does everyone in the world get this paranoid?

 

5 minutes later The Derive-

The carousel is closed. I read the City Walk sign next to it, it tells me that City Walk use to be a road. The sentences have no full-stops. There are more sentences on the ground- something about a lake and the contents of Ginninderra House. I should have written one down. There are imprints of forks and Bogong moths- random things trying desperately to represent Canberra, to construct its reality. I’ve never noticed these things before. This wasn’t part of my plan- I wasn’t actually expecting to notice things I’d never noticed before. I was going to sit over there and then follow the more familiar symbols that make up my map of the city. I take a seat in the sun, reassess.

This is where my notes begin: ‘The sounds of heels clacking and the distant murmur of buses. The city is so quiet in the morning, I can actually notice the warble of the magpies, competing for space.’ My notes tell me that I’m struggling to place things, but that’s just because I’m looking for the things I thought I’d write about. I’m surprised the streets aren’t just full of suits, that occasionally you see a scruffy dude, a teenager, a person walking their dogs.

I go looking for Cube, which is on the other side of the carousel. On my way I notice some new statues that I haven’t seen before, it’s a pack of running dogs. The way the metal has been worked around them makes them look like they’re covered in bandages. Poor leprosy dogs. From here I can see the goon sack, a more familiar site. I can feel myself being pulled by the derive, but I don’t want to lose focus- I’ve already constructed this, remember? I back-track. I am genuinely curious to see Cube again.

I pass an alleyway, it looks interesting- maybe I’ll check it out after. Cube is right where I left it, squeezed between the crack of two shopfronts. It’s amazing how tucked away Canberra’s nightlife is (except for Mooseheads and Academy- but they don’t really count anyway.) In my notes I say- ‘Like two cities squashed into one. In the day- shops and business and work and money. In the night- clubs and parties and drugs and money.’

There’s another statue here that I’ve never seen before. Earlier in my notes I wrote, ‘it’s been so long since I roamed these streets to make them mine’, and already there are things I don’t recognise. The brass statue is flat-faced and big-lipped and wearing a hat. The plaque says it’s meant to be fun and represent something a child would draw. A child would never draw that. There is so much commissioned artwork in the city. Big stencil-artist names like Elk and HA-HA, meanwhile free locally grown artwork is removed daily. Don’t they realise Elk and HA-HA are those same ‘scummy kids’? That for years Melbourne and Canberra removed their artwork from city walls?

I walk back to the alley, keen to see some rotting garbage and crumbling edifice. But there’s a security guard up there now and for some reason it puts me off. I sit down instead. Here I want to tell you something interesting; like how I stumbled round that corner on acid once, or how I use to pivot on pointed toes in that shop, pursuing some TV sex goddess ideal. Both are true, but not now. And the shop I’m thinking of isn’t even here, it’s over there, beyond site. The corner is here though, right here and I remember the moment vividly (I think… perhaps it was that corner over there?)

Is this all the city has for me then? A bunch of memories and pre-conceived perceptions? Is it possible to view it truly as it is? My notes tell me- ‘Every bit of dirt and pipeline and moss growing through cracks leads me back to my own expectations. This is my city after all.’

Already my mind is wandering my mental map of the city, far ahead of my physical location. Over there is Honky Tonks with its delicious mulled cider and fancy burritos. And there is Hippo Bar, where the music was so dope the other week that I had to scrunch up my face and fight it off.  And then Essen, where girls with shaved bits of head and rolled cigarettes hang out.

A cough is loud enough to attract my attention. Why is it so quiet? No one is talking, just sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes. The birds reach a crescendo of noise and then fade away. Quiet once more. I never noticed before how the trees in Garema are growing out of concrete.  There are other bits and pieces of memory… Landspeed where I use to go to buy expensive second hand clothes (vintage, of course), and Redpath where I went to buy trendy shoes- these are the places I use to go to be cool, and I’m old enough now that I can say that without cringing.

I’m still sitting on the concrete near the alleyway- only my mind casts out to those places and moments in time that I know so well. Later I walk the mental map to visually check its existence. It’s all still there. Maybe I’m doing this wrong- skipping ahead, back-tracking, presuming places of interest. But this is what my head does in the city; tries to glue it all together. Make some grand construction.

Earlier in my notes I noticed a crate tipped over a concrete ashtray and thought ‘this is art.’ I could imagine the drunk stumbling over and putting it there, a moment of conceptual ‘haha fuck you.’ Something out of place. And this, in the scheme of all things, is perhaps what I’m most concerned about when it comes to this whole city-human-evolution thing- that maybe this is all out of place? It’s not that I hate the city. There is much to love in the vibrancy of individual expression and its pursuit. But I can’t help but wonder whether it’s normal.

When I’m in the bush, I don’t feel the need to construct anything- other then some shelter and a meal. But in the city, everything needs construction. Who I am, how I present myself compared to you and you and you… Why can’t we all just eat, shit and sleep? Isn’t that all we need to do? Why do I crave that dress, and those over-sized glasses in an effort to define who I am? Is it normal to separate into individual entities? And then the last line of my notes, as I walk back to my car, and it just comes to me what I’m perhaps trying to say- ‘Is it natural to want things you don’t need?’

 

8.06 AM Driving back home to re-construct.

The traffic is heavier coming in then out and I’m looking forward to a coffee. The derive didn’t go as planned. There were no pithy moments of grand inspiration, no sudden eloquence. Just the same old questions, the same old feeling of being torn between giving in to the obsessive self-focus of the city, the pretence at being something better or more interesting than you are, and the higher call to fuck it all- don’t need it. And all the while, I’m re-structuring my story, working out a newer and better way to present it. Until eventually I pull into my driveway and the story is already constructed, the words only need to be written, here now…