I love fractals. The symmetry of them appeals to me. So when I set up my potcert blog, I wanted to use fractals for the banner image. I found some really great ones online. Perfect! Gorgeous! So satisfyingly symmetical. I was set.
The only problem was that I couldn’t actually use them. They were copyright protected and not freely available for use. I couldn’t just cite the source and move on. Drat!
I next turned to Flickr. I know that there are some really cool things out there that are free and available for use, some requiring attribution and some not. I tried to search for fractals under a Creative Commons license there, but I didn’t turn anything up. Surely there must be something?
I next turned to a Google search, where I simply put in the terms “Creative Commons” and “fractals” and “public domain” and searched. A little more digging there, and I did in fact turn up some nice images that I could use (from Flickr; why didn’t they turn up in my search?).
It strikes me that much of what I come across related to IP is about what we can’t do. I like to read about things like Creative Commons and OER (as Ko and Rossen discussed in their chapter) about what we can do. It makes me happy to think that people want to share their art and other works, to let others use it.
I think an issue that warrants consideration, however, is related to access, and I mean a different kind of access that what we (potcert people) normally mean when we say access. It strikes me that those things that are free and available for use are not always the easiest things to find. So they are available but perhaps not so accessible.
To provide an example of what I mean, I recently had been working on a book chapter on online community. I had scoured databases, catalogs, bibliographies, Web sites, etc. for works on community in online courses. I thought I had done due diligence. Then Laura P left me a nice comment on one of my blog entires about an open access book on online community. It had not turned up in my searches.
I wonder how we will strike the balance between open access and easy accessibility. How do we let information be free without it overwhelming us? Without us creating or having so much of it that we cannot manage it?