Dr. Lawrence (Larry) Lessig was the first professor I ever encountered online who blogs regularly. As a result of his work I read online, I not only learned about Creative Commons, I also ended up learning a great deal about the history of the Internet and our current state of affairs with regard to intellectual property law, copyright, and fair use as a result of reading his book “The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World.” I showed part of Dr. Lessig’s keynote at the Wizards of OS 4 conference this past September at the Learning 2.0 conference in Shanghai, in my session “Inventing The Future: Safely Empowering Learners in the Read/Write Society.” The clip I showed, in which Dr. Lessig defines and “frames” our historic ties to a read/write culture (as well as the read-only culture of the 20th century) has been very influential on me as I continue to think about the ways learners of all ages should be encouraged to move from the role of content CONSUMER to content CREATOR. Although I have never met Dr. Lessig in person, it is not an understatement to say his ideas and thinking have influenced me more than any of the professors I paid money to learn from as a graduate student. Such are the realities as well as possibilities for learning in our interconnected, 21st century infoverse.

Since I have such respect for Dr. Lessig, his ideas and his work, I was understandably delighted last night to learn via Eric Hoefler’s post “Lessig on TED” that Dr. Lessig’s presentation “How Creativity is being strangled by the law” from the TED conference is now available online via YouTube.

In this presentation, Dr. Lessig explains how “the tools have creativity have become the tools of speech” of the younger generation growing up in the early 21st century. He advocates for a middle road of artists and digital business developers supporting the open licensing of content for remixing, via frameworks like Creative Commons, and (as he did at Wizards of OS 4) does an excellent job framing the landscape of media reuse, remixing, and online sharing via the use of compelling stories.

My own presentation style has been heavily influenced by Dr. Lessig, and this 20 minute TED talk presentation features the “Lessig-style” presentation mode at its finest. I personally find his techniques to be both novel and effective ways to use multimedia presentation slides, images, videos, and contrasting colors to communicate in simple yet powerful ways.

Dr. Lessig’s ideas about the importance of supporting more open forms of content licensing, as well as the ideas of Brian Lamb about the importance of educators publishing content on the “open web” (shared in the “More Than Cool Tools” keynote for K12Online07) are strongly influencing my ideas as I consider topics for my keynote address at the Missouri Distance Learning Association’s annual conference this summer. I think knowledge of and advocacy for these two ideas: Creative Commons content licensing and publication of as much content as possible on the “open web” so that content can become reusable, embeddable (preferably) “digital learning objects” available for other learners around the globe to remix, are two of the most important ideas for anyone to understand and support who is interested in distributed learning (a better term than “distance learning”) in the 21st century.

Give Dr. Lessig’s 20 minute TED Talk a listen. Then if you have time, watch and listen to his full keynote from the Wizards of OS4 Conference last fall. (Scroll down for the Friday presentations.)

Rather than watch this YouTube video on my iPhone or on my computer screen, I opted to connect my laptop to our television tonight and watch it full-screen on the TV. This is relatively easy to do now, since I have a 1/8″ stereo audio plug connected to our home receiver for iPod playback, and can quickly attach a DVI to composite/S-video adapter to my Macbook and move the S-video cable from our DVD player to the computer adapter. Watching this on our “regular TV” was great, and it struck me that this sort of experience is exactly what “Delivering the Digital Lifestyle From Three Screens” is all about. The easier it becomes for video content to move from my iPhone, to my computer, to my television screen in the living room, the more readily I (and other content consumer/creators) will be able to seamlessly work with and enjoy media content in the time and location of our own choosing.

I enjoyed an on-demand lecture about some of the most important intellectual property issues facing our nation and our educational institutions this evening, thanks to various forms of technology now available at my fingertips.

I love being a learner in the 21st century! :-)

P.S. For more on the past work of Dr. Lessig on copyright/IP issues, as well as his current work in tacking governmental/institutional corruption, read the excellent December 6th article in the Economist, “Cyberlawyer 2.0.”

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  • http://www.educationaltechnology.ca Alec Couros

    I’ve been watching many of the TED talks lately streaming from my laptop, through my Wii, to my TV. It’s interesting how many options there are now, direct, streamed or otherwise. Certainly, how we will use our televisions in the future is already changing.

    Most of the TED talks are high quality and available in iPod format already, and are much better quality than the Youtube version. I know it’s a big difference when viewing on my iPod Touch.

    I blogged about this particular Lessig talk sometime ago (http://educationaltechnology.ca/couros/692), and while much of the talk is similar to his previous, the last few minutes are the most worthwhile to me. I love this last piece.

    “We can’t kill the instinct that technology produces, you can only criminalize it. We can’t stop kids from using it, we can only drive it underground. We can’t make our kids passive again, we can only make them “pirates”. And is that good? We live in this weird time, an age of prohibitions, where in many areas of our life, we live life constantly against the law. Ordinary people live life against the law. And that’s what we are doing to our kids. They live life knowing they live it against the law. That realization is extraordinarily corrosive, extraordinarily corrupting, and in a democracy, we ought to be able to do better, do better at least for them, if not for opening for business.”

  • http://www.needleworkspictures.com/ocr/blog Mathew

    The TED talk is awesome. Thanks for sharing it.

    I agree with everything except…it’s one thing if kids put remixes on their own web site without any commercial gain. However, when students put videos with copyrighted music on Youtube, it IS for profit even if students don’t see any of that profit. Google certainly is posting record profits. (And students won’t want to put videos on their own sites if they want to reach a wide audience).

    I think Creative Commons is an excellent way of handling copyright. However, I think we also need a streamlined way of paying for mechanical rights (the right to use copyrighted music in a video). As it stands now it’s not always easy to determine who owns rights and get their permission. Wouldn’t you pay .25 cents to a dollar to use a copyrighted song legitimately in a youtube clip if you knew how to pay it? Or shouldn’t google be paying it since what it’s doing is akin to radio playing copyrighted songs and selling advertising? Radio pays ASCAP/BMI for the right to all songs which is proportionately spread out among artists. We need something like this for youtube as well.

  • http://thecleversheep.com Rodd Lucier

    Lessig’s talk is compelling as are most of the TED talks. I find that rather than YouTube, Lessig’s and other TED talks offer superior online viewing in clear panoramic at http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/187

  • http://sicheiiyazhi.com Eric Hoefler

    Thanks for your thoughts here, and for the additional resources!

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