Leading Creative Commons Sweden

In 2005 I met the cool Karl Jonsson (the original hard rock hippie lawyer) and began on a translating and adapting the Creative Commons licenses to fit into the Swedish socio-legal system. Since then I have been the Project Lead for Creative Commons Sweden and have given countless lectures on the way the licenses work.

We were joined in 2009 by the energetic and creative Kristina Alexanderson together we formed a fantastic team, working voluntarily with the licenses and culture of sharing we believe so strongly in.

For some time, I have been spending time in Philadelphia and I am slowly transitioning my life to spend all my time there.

Americano by Wrote (Creative Commons BY NC)

The distance and the time zones makes it more difficult for me to be an active project lead so the project needs to be handed over to another. The person needs to be what in Swedish is called by the beautiful word eldsjäl – which translates as fire soul.

Fortunately this description fits well on our very own Kristina is now taking over as Project Lead for Creative Commons Sweden. There is a sweet sadness in leaving the post, but I am happy that the project is left in great hands.


Democracy in action: Why @Sweden is brilliant when its bad

In an interesting marketing strategy Visit Sweden decided that Sweden cannot be defined by a single voice and began letting “ordinary” Swedes have control over the @Sweden twitter account. It was cute, it was fun – but basically it was boring.

Recently 27 year old Sonja Abrahamsson took over the account and things began to heat up. Her comments are earthy and borderline questionable. None of the ones I have seen are directly racist but they may be seen by some as politically incorrect.

This was too much for several people and the so called scandal was a fact. Just check out the headlines

CNN writes Foul-mouthed Bieber-hating mother takes over @Sweden

Adland writes Sweden – the Worlds most democratic twitter account dissolves into pure anarchy

CIO writes Sweden teaches us how not to do social media

MSNBC writes Swedens democratic twitter experiment goes haywire

But is this really a problem? It feels like the world media is working hard to feel truly insulted over nothing. Sure the author may be non-pc, maybe a person I would prefer not to talk to or read but so what? The whole point of allowing “ordinary” Swedes to take over the account was to demonstrate that Sweden cannot be represented by one voice. Those who would argue that only a specific brand of politically correct Swedes should be allowed to talk miss the whole point. If you come to Sweden you will meet all kinds of people – the same is true if you visit any other country.

The main difference is that instead of a bland mix of picture perfect illustrations that ordinarily bore us with the falsehood this marketing of Sweden shows that ordinary people exist here. The fact that the experiment with @Sweden has achieved little public debate abroad shows that it was not really an exciting thing to do.

Those who argue that Abrahamsson is causing bad publicity for Sweden should think again. How may of those who are insulted (if there are many of those?) are actively cancelling trips to Sweden? Visit Sweden should stand by their choice and behind their idea – in Sweden we believe in freedom of expression. This means that often we hear about stuff we would prefer to avoid.

The critique is more amusing than relevant, a storm in a tea-cup. Unless Abrahamsson has broken any laws then I salute her ability to create a discussion about Sweden that goes beyond the boring stereotypes.

Inspirational IR11

For the last couple of weeks the AOIR Internet Research Conference has been a major part of my life. The climax came when more than 250 internet researchers descended on Göteborg to meet, discuss, argue & present their ideas. In the 48 hours prior to the conference twitter began buzzing with messages of people leaving distant locations and/or arriving in the exotic conference city. At this stage the main goal seem coordination: where & how were the two main questions passed around on twitter and as in most cases the participants used a mixture of online information & communication to self-organize gatherings prior to the conference.

On Wednesday 20/11 the day was mainly about making sure that the venue actually worked in a live situation so I missed the pre-conference workshops which were:

  • Ethics and Internet Research Commons:  Building a sustainable future
  • Evaluating Social Media
  • Academic Career Development Workshop for Research Students and Early Career Academics
  • Learning and Research in Second Life

But, I did get inspirational glimpses both afk & via twitter. Among the quotes I would have liked to follow up was from Michael Zimmer : Some people publish texts online (blog posts, tweets) having a ‘presumption of obscurity’. The good news is that I got to meet plenty of people. It is quite fun – and often totally impossible – trying to recognize people from their twitter photos. The evening held a social event which was a great way to meet old and new friends. As a local I was pleased that many liked the city and intrigued by a delegate who had managed to find both a mountain and a labyrinth in central Göteborg – I never could figure out where she had been.

Day two was the conference proper. Which began with registration and organization. The morning went in a flash of practical matters. The biggest disappointment was the fact that keynote speaker Jon Bing had canceled late and the delegates attempted to self-organize a twitterwall based discussion in plenum it was enjoyable and sociable but maybe not successful as a directed discussion.

In the afternoon I attended the panel on networking and social sites where, amongst other things Zimmer presented his work on privacy and Facebook (also showing the historical changes to privacy settings). When referring to the fact/excuse that the user has the “possibility” to protect her identity he referred to privacy controls on Facebook as similar to the controls of  a Boeing 747 claiming: “anyone can fly a 747 cause the controls are there!” He also added that he was optimistic but ultimately skeptical of the Diaspora project.

After this I attended Sustainable Communities: Cultural Expressions on Facebook where I listened to Paul Baker present on Representing disability on social media & Jan Fernback gave a great presentation on FB sousveillance where she introduced me to the term Equiveillance which is an equilibrium between surveillance & sousveillance. In the same session I think it was Jaurice Hanson talking about Facebook and “Friends who deliberately showed her age – and gained common ground – by using the quotes “Never trust anyone over 30” & “who loves ya, baby?” The long day came to an end and discussions continued at the conference reception where the Mayor of Göteborg proved to be welcoming and very amusing.

Starting at 8:20 on day two proved challenging but attendance remain enthusiastic. My choice was the paper session on Digital Democracy and Participation where papers discussed social work in Austria (Myriam Cecile Antinori), Technological (in)Justice (Kathi R. Kitner) and a critical evaluation of the Techno-Social Policies in Turkey (Ferruh Mutlu Binark).

The session was closed by Ingrid Erickson who presented inspiring and simple projects focused on neighborhoods as context for youth citizen engagement (my favorite was Urban Biodiversity Network). She argued that youths must “be agents of their own learning” which I find both a most positive & depressing quote simultaneously. On the whole it was very interesting even if the nagging question of access to technology being equated with providing justice remained.

My next session was Tweeting it out: Twitter & sociality which attempted to look into twitter as a form discourse in the public sphere.

Axel Maireder spoke of the potentials for microblogging for transnational European public discourses. Andrew Long looked at elementary narrative structures on Twitter and David Houghton presented his research on self-disclosure on twitter with examples like secret tweet. The final presentation was by Theo Plothe who does some very interesting work on twitter use among NFL players who are using the medium to increase their cultural capital. During the presentation he not only quote MC Hammer but made it a point “Thats right, I just quoted MC Hammer”. I also got to learn what #smfh means (shaking my f**ing head).

Missing the keynote by Peter Arnfalk available here I returned to the conference to hear the presentation by Florence Chee @cheeflo about licensing, eulas and consent which took its starting point from the fact that users are unaware that game providers legally collect & share a great deal of information. Her research confirmed that users do not read ANY part of the Eula. (which reminded me of Izzard’s take on this).

Unfortunately this session was extremely depopulated without the chair or other speakers showing up but Florence Chee managed to turn the session into a keynote with discussions. Most memorable among the discussions was when Jean Burgess & Jeremy Hunsinger attempted to argue a point by discussing across the width of the large auditorium.

By the end of the day my mind was getting numb from all the presentations but I still battled on listening to discussions in the panel on The Internet as a Tool for Religious Cultural Formation where I was particularly interested in the discussions of mega-churches and the work of who is now on a post doc at HUMlab.

The final day began with a flurry of admin work, changes to schedules, rooms and making sure everything would still work. After this I walked in to listen to the Approaches to Internet Research panel where Daphne Ruth Raban explored the Information Society as a concept in an attempt to answer: Do we have a paradigm, field, area or what? Katja Prevodnik on measuring the digital divide. And Jeffrey Keefer presented his fascinating studies of developing researchers use of social media to express and understand their identities.

The mood was expectant of Nancy Bayms keynote where she talked about the internet, Swedish music and the changes occurring in the music industry. Among the memorable was “What we have is not market failure, we have imagination failure”

After the keynote there was an interesting session on Sharing and manipulating video and images. Here Stacey Greenaway videotagging game at the session on Sharing & manipulating videos & images and Gordon Fletcher presented on Photobombing (eg photobomb.net) as a social phen0menon – amusing, interesting and disturbing all at once. Meghan Peirce presented on tv shows online with the talk Television and Online Video: Adapting ‘Sex and the City’ for a Digital Environment.

For the final session of the conference I attended “All our Relations”: Playing with Networks. Where among the presentations I really enjoyed a very interesting talk by Nick Taylor on his video-based fieldwork in e-sports. By this time my brain was truly fried and the conference was over.

The best part of this conference was the people. I doubt that I have met a more open, enthusiastic, inquisitive group of researchers. They came early to everything and stayed late. Everyone was eager to talk about the research of others and not only their own. My only regret is not being able to attend more sessions and speak to even more people. So all I can say is next time Seattle!

Great News for the Nordic Commons

Not only has Jonas done the work – he even wrote this blogpost which I happily & unashamedly steal. Great Work Jonas!

This is horribly exciting: I’ve been wanting to write more about this for a while now, but we wanted to time the release together with the Nordic Culture Fund. The short story, part of which I’ve leaked before, is that the Society for Free Culture and Software has been granted €49000 in funding for a project to bring Creative Commons to artists. Over the next year, from September 2010 to June 2011 we’ll be organising a series of workshops in some Nordic countries where we will talk about Creative Commons, how to use it, when to use it, and get as many artists as possible to make that first release with a Creative Commons license.

We’ll be organising workshops in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and on the Faroe Islands. The workshops themselves will be around April-May 2011, but we’re going to start already in September this year, and during FSCONS in November, to think about how to best approach newcomers to Creative Commons, prepare materials for the workshops and practice presenting Creative Commons to newcomers.

The society is working on this together with Smári McCarthy (IS), Birita í Dali (FO), Christian Villum (DK), Mathias Klang (SE) and Gisle Hannemyr (NO). The funding comes from Nordic Culture Fund and the Nordic Culture Point, and supplements funding which we’ve received for other projects. In total, we’ll spend around €60000 over the next year on CC activities.

By train to Australia

I spend a lot of my time on trains between Göteborg & Stockholm. After a quick look through my scanty records I have been to Stockholm (at least) 13 times this year (by train) which makes it a distance of 12 688 km traveled over an estimated time of over 80 hours. If these trips were all put end-to-end this is approximately the distance from Göteborg to Perth, Australia.

but I could not have taken the train…

Google books and Oscar I

King Oscar I of Sweden 1799-1859 was the son of one of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, one Napoleon’s marshals who became king Charles XIV John of Sweden. During Oscar’s time as crown prince and heir to the Swedish throne he was very socially active. Among other things he wrote a series of articles on popular education, and (in 1841) an anonymous work, “Om Straff och straffanstalter”, advocating prison reforms. The latter was translated in many languages and in English was given the title On Punishments and Prisons. More info on Oscar and photo on wikipedia.

This is not really common knowledge even in Sweden but was mentioned briefly in a documentary tonight and it sparked my curiousity. So I looked for the book, searching the online databases of second hand bookstores. No luck. Then, almost as a joke, I googled it. And there it was on google books. Cool but it was not like I was going to read it online. Then I saw the download button. Within minutes of hearing of the book for the first time I had a pdf of it on my computer – Google books is too cool!

The book seems quite interesting and I look forward to comparing it to Panopticon. Here is a quote:

It is undoubtedly, both the right and the duty of society, to punish every action which can disturb the public system of justice; it can even, if the offender has, by a relapse, shown himself incorrigible, or his offence is of a nature to endanger the public safety, render him incapable of again injuring the other members of the community. But does this right extend farther that to the loss of liberty, by which the object is gained? Every punishment, which goes beyond the limit of necessity, enters the jurisdiction of despotism and revenge.

Museums are doing it

Today I came across a notice that the Powerhouse Museum is adopting the attribution, non-commercial, no-derivatives Creative Commons license (for the material it owns)

This licence is used on some parts of our website. Examples are our own photography in the Photo of the Day blog and also for children’s activities on our Play at Powerhouse website. This licence means that you can republish this material for any non-commercial purpose as long as you give attribution back to the Powerhouse Museum as the creator and that you do not modify the work in any way. A more detailed explanation of this licence is available from Creative Commons.

And not long ago I found that the Brooklyn Museum was also using the same license.

This is in addition to the great collection of museums and institutions which have chosen to join the Flickr Commons.

The key goals of The Commons on Flickr are to firstly show you hidden treasures in the world’s public photography archives, and secondly to show how your input and knowledge can help make these collections even richer.

Among the 23 organisations in the Flickr Commons is the Swedish National Heritage Board which has begun putting photographs online. How about this photo from the small fishing town of Lysekil

Photograph: People in old Lysekil by Carl Curman (c:a 1870) uploaded RÄA

Copyright and non-essential parts of screendump

Karl at Cyberlaw reports of a recent interesting copyright case decided at the Swedish Court of Appeal (Svea Hovrätt).

The case (2008-07-01, FT 685-08) concerned the question whether a screendump of one web page (containing pictures) being displayed on another web page constitued a violation of copyright of the pictures.

The court found that, first of all, the pictures displayed on the webpage which was pictured and displayed on another web page were not protected under 1§ of the Swedish Copyright Act (English version Pdf) but under Photolaw 49 a§ Swedish Copyright Act.

This difference is a remnant of the time when photographs were not covered by Copyright law at all. Today photographs are covered by Copyright law but the length of protection differs from other typical works protected under copyright law.

Since the images were small and hardly distinguishable to the naked eye they made up an unessential part of the the exception in 20a§ is applicable. According to this exception there is no need for permission to use works which appear in the background or are an non-essential part of the picture.

Proud to be Swedish (not)

Coming back from a vacation always requires effort and since I was both offline and without newspapers (the latter was by choice) I am now busy catching up. One thing catches my eye – the BBC reports that a schoolteacher in Sweden confiscated a birthday cards on the grounds that those not invited were being discriminated against!

When things like this happen it makes me annoyed to be Swedish!!! What I want to know is: does the teacher who confiscated the cards invite all the people she does not like when she/he has a party?

The Swedish Surveillance State

I am almost ashamed for not blogging and discussing this in more detail. There have been plenty of media, discussions, and a blogging frenzy in the past two weeks…

Short of actually doing the work myself I simplified life – or gave way to my laziness and re-post this post from the EFF

A proposed new law in Sweden (voted on this week, after much delay) will, if passed, allow a secretive government agency ostensibly concerned with signals intelligence to install technology in twenty public hubs across the country. There it will be permitted to conduct a huge mass data-mining project, processing and analysing the telephony, emails, and web traffic of millions of innocent individuals. Allegedly these monitoring stations will be restricted to data passing across Sweden’s borders with other countries for the purposes of monitoring terrorist activity: but there seems few judicial or technical safeguards to prevent domestic communications from being swept up in the dragnet. Sound familiar?

The passing of the FRA law (or “Lex Orwell”, as the Swedish are calling it) next week is by no means guaranteed. Many Swedes are up in arms over its provisions (the protest Facebook group has over 5000 members; the chief protest site links to thousands of angry commenters across the Web). With the governing alliance managing the barest of majorities in the Swedish Parliament, it would only take four MPs in the governing coalition opposing this bill to effectively remove it from the government’s agenda.

As with the debate over the NSA warrantless wiretapping program in the United States, much of this domestic Swedish debate revolves around how much their own nationals will be caught up with this dragnet surveillance. But as anyone who has sat outside the US debate will know, there is a wider international dimension to such pervasive spying systems. No promise that a dragnet surveillance system will do its best to eliminate domestic traffic removes the fact that it *will* pick up terabytes of the innocent communications of, and with, foreigners – especially those of Sweden’s supposed allies and friends.

Sweden is a part of the European Union: a community of states which places a strong emphasis on the values of privacy, proportionality, and the mutual defence of those values by its members. But even as the EU aspires to being a closer, borderless community, it seems Sweden is determined to set its spies on every entry and exit to Sweden. When the citizens of the EU talk to their Swedish colleagues, what happens to their private communications then?

When revelations regarding the United Kingdom’s involvement in a UK-US surveillance agreement emerged in 2000, the European Parliament produced a highly critical report (and recommended that EU adopt strong pervasive encryption to protect its citizens’ privacy).

Back then, UK’s cavalier attitude to European communications, and its willingness to hand that data to the United States and other non-EU countries, greatly concerned Europe’s elected legislators. Already questions are being asked in the European Parliament about Sweden’s new plans and their effect on European citizen’s personal data. Commercial companies like TeliaSonera have moved servers out of Sweden to prevent their customers from being wiretapped by the Swedish Department of Defence. Sweden’s own business community have expressed concern that companies may move out of Sweden to protect their private financial data.

Sweden has often led the charge for government openness and consumer advocacy, and has, understandably, much national pride in seeing its past policies exported and reflected in Europe and beyond. Before Sweden’s MPs vote next week to allow its government surveillance access to whole Net, they should certainly consider its effect on their Swedish citizens’ privacy. But it should also ponder exactly how their vote will be seen by their closest neighbors. If the Lex Orwell passes, Sweden may not need something so sophisticated as a supercomputer to hear what the rest of the world thinks about their new values.