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Everything really is political


Everything is political

With these welcoming words, Creative Common’s CEO Ryan Merkley confirmed I was in the right place. It was my first time at the global Creative Commons summit, and though I knew a bit about Creative Commons, this was my first adventure into meeting and learning from the community.


Image by Sebastian Ter Burg, CC BY

The open data community that I’m part of has a lot of overlap with the Creative Commons space. Not just because we both talk about licenses for data or content, but moreso due to our community’s enthusiasm to use tech and data and information to further our shared values – chief amongst them, a belief that open is better.

In Canada we’ve got great momentum going in terms of applying this belief to how our government works. Code for Canada has recently launched, we’ve got a new chief digital officer in Ontario, and adoption of the Open Data Charter at the federal and provincial governments. Cities across Canada are showing renewed focus on their open data plans. So how to build on this momentum of openness?

By increasing our political action. Many of us have a handle on how tech and systems work, how they can be open, how they can be applied – and yes, we’ve got lots of opinions on it all too. As a community, we need to show up more to support our governments in their work to do tech right.

When I needed a jolt of inspiration in doing this work a few years back, I watched the Internet’s Own Boy, a documentary about Aaron Swartz, in Lawrence Lessig’s words, “one of the early architects of Creative Commons”. To help share this inspiration and keep the discussion moving along, we’ll be hosting a joint movie night, put on by the Toronto Public Library, Creative Commons Canada, and the Open Data Institute of Toronto – details will be shared as we have them.

Aaron had a fierce political belief in the power of opening up information. It’s on us as a bigger and broader open community to think strategically about what we can do politically to make sure this happens. I’m excited for our communities to continue to converge and collaborate and I’m grateful for the summit experience that confirmed another global community of people keen to do this work.

Posted 19 May 2017