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Openness Begat Openness

It feels like an old song to me (nothing wrong with classics), but open content or open education IMHO is not solely focused on the things- the courseware, the things shared – its more about the spirit of sharing openly, and how that multiplies, sometimes on its own accord.

This is but a tiny example, but remember, everything in this world is made of very tiny (sub-atomic) stuff. Stephen Ridgeway, from all the way in New South Wales Australia, tweeted a link to a video he made explaining how to use my Flickr CC Attribution helper – a browser script that embeds easy to copy attribution text to creative commons licensed flickr images:

So, without me asking, Stephen has created a nice how to that adds some value to the thing I created. So think about if everyone who used shared online content created something as an add-on like this. It gets one kum-bah-ya giddy like counting stars in the sky.

But there’s another layer on this.

I had never created a GreaseMonkey script before (and not sure I could do one from scratch now), but because all of the items at UserScripts is open, I found this one that did some of what I needed, and I looked a to a few more (I don;t remember) that showed me some tricks for navigating the page DOM to add content, Between having some models to work with, a little knowledge of scripting, I was able to create exactly what I wanted.

It would not have been possible with some shoulders to stand on- and while I have created one script and maybe modded another, it would take a lot of effort for me to learn it all to create more. But I don;t have to.

Open is good, eh? It leads to more. And more.

Color me a hippie optimist.

Another example? A few months ago I got a few thank you’s on flickr for a few Arizona photos that a guy named Pete Tillman was using to add to WikiPedia pages. I don;t know him, he does not know me, but we are connected now. He seems to be avid on supplementing WikiPedia pages with content — and thanks to Pete, I see two of my own photos on WikiPedia’s page about my home town.

Again, this is nothing that is going to save the world, reform education, or turn milk into cheese. But I am floating on this ecosystem of content shared under creative commons in flickr, being discoverable through search (and other tools via open APIs), content being able to be re-used in the biggest wiki in the universe…

But open content is not about the web page, the video, the photo, the script- it’s about people like Stephen and Pete and a gazillion more, who take it on their own, to share back one bit.

Don’t just consume, contribute, share back, in the great, wide open. It does not take much. It’s just an attitude.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. On another note, isn;t it odd that Johnny Depp is starring in that Tom petty video? Well, maybe not because that was 1991, and while he had been in Nightmare on Elm Street and 21 Jump Street, his star wouldn’t rise for a few more years, Edward Scissorhands, Benny and Joon, What’s eating Gilbert Grape?, and my favorite Depp is Dead Man. But once he got to the stardom he has now, his roles have pretty much sucked—this music video may be his best work?

  2. Actually, Edward Scissorhands was 1990, so his star was on the rise with this video. Man I hate Tim Burton, did I ever tell you that?

    1. I agree that Depp was superb as an unknown, always had that edge of manic craziness, kind of like some blogger I know.

      But I have to say, even though they were overly commercialized, he brought zest as a pirate.

      And yes, your love of Tom Burton duly noted.

      Nice job boosting your comment count for next year’s data race 😉

  3. It IS truly amazing what can be learned in here. Step away from the reader for a day or two and look what happens….
    As a long time fan girl of Johnny Depp in all of his incarnations of crazy (that Secret Window shovel thing still creeps me out) I NEVER knew he was in a music vid (probably because music videos were really AFTER my time …and I have never been a fan of Tom Petty).
    Yes, I am amazed.

  4. Somehow a post on open-ness unravels to Johnny Depp?

    I love the extension of the song as story in the video (and the guy playing drums on dixie cups with match sticks), but if you are a Petty fan you surely appreciate the lyric genius of of “met a girl out there with the tattoo too.” Or maybe it’s just me.

  5. @Cogodg,
    That’s the other thing about openness, you never know what someone will get out of what you do, or where it will go. That’s my favorite part about it, and I do agree with you about Depp as a Pirate, he was pretty fun in that role—I’m thinking more of Dillinger, in which he terribly miscast, and more of the same.

    As for comment count, you and I already know I own that competitition by a large, large Marge margin.

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