I’m in Frankfurt this week for the first Wikipedia conference. Jimmy Wales has been warming up for his Wikimania Keynote on Larry Lessig’s blog, talking about 10 things that should be free. The idea for this list comes from Hilbert’s problems. In 1900s Mathematician David Hilbert posed 23 problems, 10 were announced at a conference, the full list published later, very influential. He notes that all of these things were obvious, suggested or proposed by others.
10 Challenges for thee Free Culture Movement
1. Free the Encyclopedia!
Mission is to create a free encyclopedia for every person on the planet in their own language. For English and German, this work is done (of course there could be be quality control, etc.). French and Japanese in a year or so, ton of work to be done globally. Will be done in 10 years time, an amazing thing when you consider minority languages that have never had an encyclopedia.
2. Free the Dictionary!
Not as far along, but picking up speed. A dictionary is only useful when it’s full of words you don’t know, unlike an encyclopedia. Needs software development, such as WikiData. It is structured information, for cross reference and search.
3. Free the Curriculum!
There should be a complete curriculum in every language. A much bigger task than the encyclopedia. Need not just one article about the Moon, but one for every grade level. WikiBooks isn’t the only one working on this project. The price of university textbooks is a real burden for students. The book market doesn’t take advantage of potential supply of expertise. Not hard to imagine 500 economics professors writing instead of one or two to create a better offering than the traditional model.
4. Free the Music!
The most amazing works in history are public domain but not many public domain recordings exist (even in classical music). Proper scores are often proprietary derivative works (such as arrangements for a modern orchestra). Volunteer orchestras, student orchestras could provide the music for free.
5. Free the Art!
Show two 400 year old paintings. Routinely get complaints from museums saying there is copyright infringements. National Portrait Gallery of England threatens to sue, a chilling effect, but they have no grounds. Controlling physical access keeps people from getting high quality images “I wouldn’t encourage you to break the law, but if you accidentally take a photo of these works it would be great to put it on Wikipedia for the public domain.
6. Free the File Formats!
Proprietary file formats are worse than proprietary software because they leave you with no ability to switch at a later time. Your data is controlled. If all of your personal documents are in an open file format, then free software could serve you in the future. Need to educate the public on lock-in. There is considerable progress here and continued European rejection of software patents is critical.
7. Free the Maps!
“What could be more public domain than basic information about location on the planet?” — Stefan Magdalinksi. FreeGIS software, Free GeoData. This will become increasingly important for open competition in mobile data services.
8. Free the Product Identifiers!
Hobby Princess blog Huge subculture of people making crafts, selling them on eBay, but need competition from distributors.
Increasingly, small producers can have a global market. Such producers need a clobal identifiers. Similar to ISBN, not ASIN (proprietary to Amazon). Suggests the “LTIN: Long Tail Identification Numbers” would be cheap or inexpensive to obtain (has to have some cost to fend off spam). Extensive database freely licensed and easly downloadable to empower multiple rating systems, e-commerc, etc. The alternative is proprietary eBay and Amazon. Small craft producers should be able to get a number and immediately gain distribution across them.
9. Free the TV Listings!
A smaller issue, it may seem. But development of free software digital PVRs is going on. Free-as-in-beer listings exist, but this is tenuous. Free listings could be used to power many different innovations in this area. Otherwise we will be in a world where everything you watch will be DRM’ed — so this is important.
10. Free the Communities!
Wikipedia demonstrates the power of a free community. Consumers of web forum and wiki services should demand a free license. Otherwise, the company controls the community. Similar to a feudal serf, company maintained communities have a hold on communities. Are you a serf living on your master’s estate, or free to move? Social compact: need to have Open Data and Openly Licensed software for communities to truly be free. Wikicities – for profit, free communities – founded by Jimmy and Angela. Free licensing attracts contributors.
He will be adding more on Larry Lessig’s blog over the coming weeks.