I just caught up with Suw’s terrific analysis of the spread of Free Culture: Something for Nothing: The Free Culture AudioBook Project. It’s a great illustration of the power of openness: because Free Culture was released under a license that allowed follow-on creativity, its readers became joint creators and disseminators.
In these new models, the new collaborators can also be the distributors and the consumer. Sometimes there is no need for a facilitator and the writer can communicate directly with the collaborators. But most importantly, these models provide flexibility in terms of how the reader accesses the product.
In addition to providing access to the product, these models facilitate the building of a creative community around a publication which helps to promote it via word of mouth. The key to making these communities - be they ‘flash’ communities that come together for a given project and then disband, or more permanent - succeed is to utilise an enabling licence such as those provided by Creative Commons.
Openness, of course can be provided in many ways: open formats like HTML, .txt, RSS, and atom, enable the building of artistic and technological derivatives — audio books, text search tools, aggregators; open licenses such as the GPL and Creative Commons empower users to create these derivatives with minimal lawyering. In combination, open tech and law create value. Works move from isolated objects to parts of the culture, as the creation of derivatives recruits readers and new creators.