CC: BYE, an update to the last post

In my last post I wrote

…I want my work to be seen, used and adapted, but I want it done in a way that ethically aligns with my values. I do not mind if it is used commercially, but I do want to hold people to an ethical standard. Do I want an ethics rider for my Creative Commons license?

This was done in the wake of  Cambridge Analytica and debates about algorithms and analytics.

Until today my work was licenced CC:BY but over the month since I wrote it I have been reading around the debate, most recently Audrey’s Watters’ brilliant “Invisible Labor and Digital Utopias

I want to come clean at the outset, I am a white middle-aged male, and I recognise that I am privileged in my online interactions in ways that the majority of people are not. But I also have constraints on me because of the culture of organisations I have worked in over 20 years.

Audrey wrote of trolls and bigots and that is a big part of being a woman online, or a person of colour, or a minority, or just being anything other than a “straight white man”. But one passage stood out for me.

“As a woman who writes online about technology, I have grown far too tired of “permission-less-ness.” Because “open” doesn’t just mean using my work for free without asking.”

I like to think that I work in a collaborative and open way, I aspire to open practice. But more and more in this culture (the rise of the neo-liberal education agenda?) I see people’s work being taken and used, people like Audrey. I have seen Audrey’s, Dave Cormier’s and others work used in workshops, and keynotes with a minimal 14pt “thanks to…” I have sat in an auditorium and seen my argument, and slide appear in a keynote from a person that was in my keynote a few weeks earlier.

If you quote me – put the citation on the damn slide, I don’t care if you are arguing with the premise, or agreeing with the premise, if I said it cite it.

“Permission-less-ness” seems to be the norm for the way some people work in education, and perhaps more so EdTech.

So today I said CC: BYE.

At the moment I have decided that I am happy to try attribution, no-derivatives, non-commercial. (CC:BY:NC:ND)

So by definition I am now “categorised” as Least Open

So I guess I am now wondering where this leaves me with my open practice? I am not an artist, nor am I employed as an academic but my ideas and my content are very much my livelihood, my identity. This is why it matters, why the licence matters. Generosity has limits, both in how you use my work, and how you cite my work. Part of my identity is now “least open”.


  1. Very interesting read and I may need to revisit this. Am not sure changing CC license will stop others citing you work and ideas without attribution. It won’t cure plagiarism nor lazy “scholarship”. This isn’t a criticism though but a reflection on others.

  2. As far as I see it, the problem doesn’t lie in the license you choose. It’s in the behaviours of some other people and I don’t think changing the level of openness in the license would affect that. Maybe I’m too pessimistic. Yes, it sends out a message and no doubt it will ignite a good dicsussion but that imapct has a relatively short half-life.
    Would it not be a stronger expression of your values and identity to do things that might influence behaviours more effectively and over the long term? Model the attribution behaviours you want to see, call it out when you see bad behaviour and yes, keep blogging about it?
    I’m also not sure about ND. I get that this is about protecting the integrity of the original work but it don’t think the constraints are well understood so people taking the license seriously are unclear about what is legitimate critique and what counts as a “derivative”. I’ll admit I don’t understand it which is why I’ve chosen to go with CC-BY where I can.
    I always saw you as more of a Share Alike guy. 😉

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