Challenges to free culture


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It is important to have a sense of scope when developing global content. Who is the primary audience for new learning materials? How will people access materials? How will they communicate across technical, network, and language barriers? Below are some of the outstanding content problems we need to solve along the way to developing a free multilingual commons of creative, collaborative, and educational works.


1. describe the future

Unify projects that disagree on details and methodology. get support for a vision from groups who still need viable business models to transition.

  • Connect: Current prominent visions and visionaries

2. free literacy

Focus on literacy, numeracy, and early education: provide a definitive set of free materials (beautiful, musical, and comprehensive) in every language to bootstrap access to knowledge.

  • Todo: Gap analysis; create/relicense materials; add i18n and beauty.
  • Connect: Tens of thousands of literacy efforts of different flavors.

3. distribute indexing

Make searching and publishing free materials easy. Amplify finding/sharing freely licensed content. Broadcast the need for core metadata, including origin, language, and license. Distribute organizing and tagging materials across a [literate] community.

  • Todo: Find/design good interfaces to an aggregated search, get support from existing search platforms, work with the quirks of existing sites.
  • Connect: Searchers and taggers Searches & collections across archival sites and across languages.

4. free language learning

Develop great free language & cultural learning: text, audio, visual materials, language exchanges online, flash cards and other tools. Match interpreters to multilingual chats and conversations. Bootstrap access to knowledge across language barriers and unmediated cultural exchange.

  • Todo: Free or write material, polish free learning tools. Develop a translator matching system/site/interface to let people contribute 15 minutes of translation a day to helping others communicate.

5. distribute localization

Publish guidelines for internationalization and cultural norms. polish up an open source toolchain for translators. set up a localizers & translators site to match polyglots to chunks of their favored projects.

  • Todo: Define how l10n is identified and split up; code missing tools. Create a global translation memory, get translator networks to use and contribute to it. design a site/interfaces to this distributed system; coordinate with 4.
  • Connect: Amateur and pro translators, localizers, linguists. Overlapping software toolsets for such work.

6. distribute creation

Complete free tools for collaborative creation of text, images, music and scores, animation, and video. Track changes, diffs, histories. Highlight the need for widespread use.

  • Todo: Gap analysis, need assessment. Microgrants for free tool and content development. Patch existing sites to use these new tools.
  • Connect: A world of creators. Overlapping toolsets.

7. promote digitization

Make digitization cheap and available everywhere; and digital publishing natural. Creators unused to digital sharing or collaboration can see no benefit to digital formats. Amplify the above efforts by spreading interest in/awareness of digitization and curation of local and cultural works. Work with long-term international scanning efforts to provide scan centers & scanning/curation training in every country.

  • Todo: Take existing programs, identify future economies of scale. Describe the need (see 1.), create & localize training materials.
  • Connect : National, corporate, and non-profit efforts
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