Past June 18th we participated in the Creative Commons Technology Summit at Mountain View’s GooglePlex, San Francisco. It was the first technological event about registry and ccREL semantic web standards issues. The goal was to show the ccREL capabilities and the importance of this standards for registries like SafeCreative.org and others.
Joichi Ito, CEO of Creative Commons after Lawrence Lessig, pointed some very interesting concepts we do agree with. First he talked about the need of standards in technology from an agnostic political point of view. So to say, we have to create the tools in such way that the use of them will only depend from the user, not from our own opinions or political concerns. He remembered the specific case of the TCP/IP protocol standardisation that once reached produced an unseen burst of creativity and the true development of the Internet. The ways people used the TCP/IP protocol were quite different. Some projects succeeded, others didn’t, but there was no imposition about what people had to do with the neutral technology. With the development of the various CC licenses something very similar has happened. Once a new set of free (as freedom) licenses that anybody can use appear, the specific kind of license used depends only from the user. It’s possible that CC licenses users might gradually move to more “copyleft-ed” licenses because they give the ability to spread intellectual works more easily through the Internet as opposite to the more restrictive ones. Saying that, we in SafeCreative made an agnostic neutral web from the beginning; not tied to any specific kind of license, but accepting them all so that we provide the tool to register with any license (full copyright, creative commons, GPL, Anti-DRM…), but not imposing our vision of which licenses people should use. Only time will say how things finally will develop.
After Jon Ito it was the turn of Ben Adida, technical representative of Creative Commons for W3C who spoke mainly about the ccREL (Creative Commons Rights Expression Language) based on RDFa standards and it’s meaning. In short RDFa uses XHTML standards to make web pages give the same information to the human user and to the machine. This way information increases mobility, can easily travel through other applications and gets a better indexation in search engines like Google. So, by using ccREL in those sites where license gets specified, humans and machines can understand at the same time, using the same HTML code if the work can be commercially used, or modified, who is the author, the title, etc. So this information can travel through many other applications knowing always really what is the meaning of “author” or “title” or license. And how can we know it? Just using RDFa standards and the already existing definitions in the Internet like the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. Here you can find a link to the Creative Commons’s wiki with some examples to show how this system does work. We have to add at this point that SafeCreative has the ccREL language standards already implemented in our license codes. So we have our codes ready for the data web of the future. It can be used also in blogs to have a better indexation of them. Search engines now will offer more and better information about the works registered under SafeCreative.
To end with this first part just want to mention something James Boyle , member from the Creative Commons board, said about how future web applications should be: They must be simple, easy, concise and comfortable. This will contribute knowledge to spread around the world with the obvious educational benefit for mankind.
In the next article we’ll talk about the second part of the event that was entirely about registries and the different versions, needs and possibilities of them.