Declaration On Libre Knowledge

Wayne Macintosh, WikiEducator, Dec 11, 2007
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Numerous worthwhile comments have followed from the release of the href="">Cape Town Declaration a couple of weeks ago, and the criticisms - including alternative proposal on what is for now being called 'libre knowledge'. This declaration responds to my concerns - so incomprehensible to people like David Wiley - regarding the Cape Town declaration. But it seems clear enough to the people on the unesco-oer discussion list (As Tuomi (see below) writes, "An important method of creating private goods from public goods is to make them excludable.").

"The term 'libre resources' refers to digital resources - files in a free file format containing (e.g.) text, an image, sound, multimedia, etc. accessible with free software, and released under a licence which grants the users the freedom to access, read, listen to, watch, or otherwise experience the resource; to learn with, copy, perform, adapt and use it for any purpose; and to contribute and share enhancements or derived works." This is exactly what is not provided by the Cape Town Declaration.

Also criticized in the Cape Town Declaration was its producer-centered bent. This reflects criticisms of the OECD paper Giving Knowledge for Free. It is worth reading Ilkka Tuomi on this, as he writes, open educational resources (among other things) "enable development of individual or social capabilities for understanding and acting" and "can be enjoyed without restricting the possibilities of others to enjoy them and which either." This is a very important and worthwhile paper. See also this web site on Libre Communities and this site at worldcampus, which contains Kim Tucker's lengthy and very useful contribution.

Finally, for the hosts of the Cape Town Declaration to host only a private feedback form as their venue of communication is, in my mind, reprehensible. There is no excuse for not providing some sort of public discussion of this document, rather than a private address where contributions disappear from view.
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