Monthly Archives: November 2007

Aotearoa creative commons licence

If you look on the right-hand column you’ll see a new logo on my blog. Under the heading of “Share Alike” is a description of the basis I share my work and the conditions I place on others using it.

There are a variety of choices for an author to assert their moral rights over their work: traditional copyright, copyleft, and creative commons (and possibly more). I’ve chosen the latter because of the specificity with which I can define how I want to share. In choosing Creative Commons I am not actually giving up my rights, but letting people know the ways the conditions I’m happy with re-use.

An international creative commons licence has been available for several years and many countries are adapting the licences to suit their particular jurisdiction. The Aotearoa New Zealand licences were made available just a month ago (see Aotearoa Creative Commons). These have been prepared by the Te Wh?inga Aronui The Council for the Humanities.

Anyone is free to use my work provided you:

  • acknowledge me
  • share any resulting work on the same basis as I share
  • use only for non-profit purposes.

The official way of putting this is: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike.

To get a licence for your work visit go to Creative Commons Licence you work Aotearoa New Zealand page.

The licences are typically used to licence creative works (eg music, photography, graphics), and I haven’t quite figured out how they relate to reportage, commentary and writing. And of course, on the Internet it is impossible to monitor how material is re-used, so unless re-use is high profile it would be possible people wouldn’t know if their licence is breached. Creative Commons does not provide a mechanism for policing licences or redress when licences are breached. There is plenty of room for debate about the use and enforcement of licences.

I think the licences are relevant to community groups, who work in an environment where sharing knowledge and creativity a norm to be encouraged, but only where the effort and intellectual property should be rightly acknowledged. I’m not aware of any groups that have adopted a licence, but I’ll keep my eye open for groups that take this step.

Maybe we could create a Aotearoa Creative Commons not-for-profit space, a bit like a virtual bring and buy.

Update (6 December 2007): here’s a link to a post by Beth Kanter on “Best Practices Using Creative Commons Licence”. To quote her, the following “…post titled “To My Readers: Avoiding Plagiarism, Understanding the Creative Commons License” made some great points about giving attribution in blog posts beyond a link.” Using what is essentially an academic referencing approach is bit long-winded and I think a brief citation is sufficient (ie referring to an author and blog name is sufficient without full dates, title, etc).

Fresh, functional, findable documents

Although I work pretty much full time on Internet or related projects, I’ve actually only got a very, very small collection of books. Mostly I rely on articles, blogs and discussion online, and my own trial and error, I mean experiential learning. The world wide web changes so quickly I tend to think of books dating faster than a 10 gigabit broadband connection.

I was pretty excited to hear that one of my favourite authors has written a new book on writing good web content.

Quite a few years ago I got a copy of “Web Word Wizardry” by Rachel McAlpine. It’s a really handy book on everything small business owners need to know about attracting customers. Mostly she covers writing for the web, but there is stuff on planning and strategy as well. Rachel has an infectious sense of fun and love of language. I still refer to the book.

As part of assignment for a the professional writing and editing paper I completed a couple of years ago, I wrote a feature article based an interview with Rachel. As well as sharing advice and enthusiasm for good writing online, I found out she isn’t a stickler for applying rules in a blanket way. She commented:

The blog is where the creative writing is…. it’s where I think people do and should break all the boring writing rules. Just do it!!

The organising principle of Rachel’s latest book released in August 2007 shows a light touch. Although the title “Better Business Writing on the Web” sounds dry, what she has written is very readable. At the core are F-words. While you reign in your imagination, think of F as in fresh, focused, functional and forceful. Rachel is writing for people who end up writing for the web when their day-to-day job mostly involves writing dull business reports, policy papers, etc. She aims to help lots of people learn four essential skills for writing online rather than focusing on the needs of specialist web editors.

As well as writing books Rachel delivers training, including an online course, and sends out regular email tips.

Out of interest, the other web book sitting on my shelf is a copy of “the unusually useful web book” by June Cohen published in 2003. She covers everything from planning to search engine optimisation, with interviews with over 50 designers, writers, website producers and other experts.


What fish to buy?

Best fish guide logoI can’t decide if I liked the crumbed Plichard skewers with their strong oily flavour, or the ever-so tender seared Skipjack Tuna with mild wasabi. These fish, along with a couple of others, were served up by chef Martin Bosley at the launch of the 2007-08 Best Fish Guide today.

The guide ranks 75 fish species based on their sustainability, in terms of both fish stock health and wider environmental impacts. The two listed above are in the amber category, but there are none in the green yet.

Martin Bosley, whose restaurant at the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club is definitely a fine dining experience, is big fan of fish. He joked that the most sustainably harvested fish are not necessarily the most popular with diners, but he’s determined to make sure they are on the menu. He is hoping someone will order the pilchards. You’ll also find cockles, mussels, marlin, snapper, bluenose, tarakihi, and more as well.

I helped to make page updates to the 75 species listed on the website. My favourite has got to be the eel like Frostfish, also called a Cutlassfish.

Copies of the wallet sized best fish guide can be downloaded or copies are available from the Forest and Bird office.

Read the Forest media release “More fish go red but some nearly green” from 13 November 2007.