Last Friday evening Kai from AIT and I went to a seminar organised by Creative Commons Japan. Our friend and MAD guest lecturer Dominique Chen is active in commons activities in Japan, and he made a report on the recently held isummit in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Although I had been aware of Creative Commons for a long while, I had never really spent much time looking into it and related issues. In fact the catalyst for our participation was our current research into extending our MAD school into the web through some form of e-learning. One of the main issues discussed in Croatia was what is called Open Education - emerging forms of learning which are essentially free and open to all and which enable users to produce or remix received content, like a wiki. This kind of thinking about online education and learning has been referred to by Stephen Downes in a 2005 article as e-learning 2.0. There seems to be lots going on in this area - education in the virtual world Second Life is, I understand, also an area of great interest for this community.
As an educator at both official art universities (I have to grade people) and MAD (independent evening classes run by non profit AIT since 2001), this is all exciting, if a little overwhelming. As we look into the possible routes we could take into this area, we are thinking about how content can be transmitted to learners, what kind of content this should/ can be, if it should only be us who makes this content, the implications for economics and charging in all this and how Creative Commons can help, whether all students can 'get into' using web based tools and things, whether we will retain our motivations to keep transmitting through computers etc etc.
The positive sides are that e-learning can potentially reach out to people who live far outside Tokyo and who are interested in what we do, or people who are super busy.
I learnt at the seminar that the next isummit will be held in Sapporo Japan next autumn. It would be good to make this a target, and try to get something running by then. I am very interested in attending the next summit too. Dominique mentioned that these summits used to be dominated by media activists and the free culture hardcore, but that in recent years they attract a much broader range of people including business leaders, copyright lawyers and sponsors. There seems to be a much more open and friendly mood between all parties - probably due to the 'movements' maturing over time.
Over Belgium beers afterwards (Trappiste Rochefort) I exchanged ideas with various Creative Commoners. It was interesting how few knew much about figures like Marcel Duchamp or even Walter Benjamin - both important figures within the arts in terms of issues of originality, reproduction and sampling. We may be invited back to present some thoughts on these kinds of people from the art historical/ theoretical perspective, at the next CC japan salon.
Many thanks Dominique and all involved.