Creative Commons and Web 2.0

I knew that somewhere in this race to blog daily in November (NoBloPoMo! Third year in a row!), I would end up linking to a Prof Hacker post. Especially for such a new blog, it has quickly become the go-to spot for those who teach in universities. Today’s post centers on how to use Creative Commons searches to find all that Web 2.0 content while still being respectful of copyright. Clearly, Creative Commons is the definitive choice for webspace; it has the needed flexibility to be specific about the otherwise shifting ground between full-on “don’t use this or I’ll sue” and “mix or mash, just use it.” Most content authors are comfortable somewhere on the continuum in-between, and Creative Commons makes it easy for those people to make their wants known. Like Prof Hacker, I use the Flickr Creative Commons search when I need a photo or graphic that I don’t have the time to produce myself, and I like how easy it is to “give credit where credit is due” via a link to the content producer’s Flickr page.

As far as teaching is concerned, I find that students don’t always connect the web with the idea of copyright, thinking that posting content at all means an open buffet for others to use without citing. That’s why I teach Creative Commons searching in all my writing classes; if they know how to find needed content that allows use when properly cited, they are more likely to do so. It also builds upon the citing conventions taught in academic writing; respect for authorial content logically should extend beyond print, and teaching Creative Commons shows how it can be done.

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Author of the poetry collection The Tethered Ground and Professor of English at Missouri State University. Contact me for readings or for workshops on writing/publishing and on teaching writing online.

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