Sharing – a cultural shift

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From its conception, internet culture has been characterised by new means of collaboration and, consequently, a different view of content and intellectual property. Net politics, to a large extent, retraces debates about intellectual property regulations.

There is a vivid debate about copyright and whether patent law fulfils its role of both protecting authors' rights and enabling innovation. Friends of the free Internet have also developed mechanisms to ensure free and open content under conditions of competition and capitalism and to promote its further development. This has defined and strengthened open standards, but also safeguarded these values through licensing models.

Sharing and receiving has cultural meaning. This is perhaps best depicted by the Creative Commons License, one license model which enables people to use, publish and republish content (parts) by others. The CC Licenses are becoming increasingly popular in public, science, civil society, education and also economic circles, because they can come together under their roof publishers despite very different intentions. Some are doing it from idealist or philanthropist considerations, others as a dissemination strategy – for most, it is a mixture of both. On one hand, sharing intellectual products contributes to a free and open knowledge society, but on the other hand, Creative Commons are a self-service-shop with knowledge that would otherwise have a marketable price. When the price is not expressed by monetary value – what then?

Resource: The Internet’s Own Boy (USA, 105’)

The story of Aaron Swartz (1986-2013), activist and pioneer of ‘creative commons’ concept and movement. The biographical documentary film highlights Swartz’s strong civil engagement for access to knowledge and information. He followed his convictions and ideals to the point of paying for them with his life. Disobeying a law he considered unjust, he downloaded 4.8 million scientific articles from the academic database JSTOR, sharing them publicly, and got arrested. After a legal battle, he committed suicide on 11 January 2013.

Released on the Internet with a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license

Open Source and Knowledge

Open Source is software which makes its code base transparent, allowing anyone to check what is programmed and use the software. Their users are encouraged to change and co-create the software within the limitations and opportunities described in the open license models.

An impressive model for organising open source is Github, a platform where developers publish, co-create and maintain software ( Open source development is a process with non-central character. Many different co-creators with very different interests need to be involved. Many of them work in their free time, discuss, negotiate and involve their ideas. One of the most famous projects is the Linux operating system, among many others..

Creative Commons


Commoning is a term coined by the Commons movement, describing a social practice of empowering people to create, share and manage resources collectively, saving them from appropriation through a few and from scarcity through commercialisation. Creative commons is a license applying this attitude to intellectual and cultural work. More: Creative Commons - Why and How


Open Source

Software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance. (Open Source Inititaive)

Open Data

Free and accessible sets of (public) data, often provided through a database or a website.

Open Access


Provides online access to scientific information that is free of charge to the user and that is re-usable. It includes peer-reviewed scientific publications and scientific research data (EC-OA, n. d.; EUC-RTD, 2017)

Open Educational Resources


Learning, teaching and research materials in any format or medium that reside in the public domain or are under copyright that have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, reuse, re-purpose, adaptation and redistribution by others (UNESCO, 2019).


handbook for Facilitators: Learning the Digital


This text was published in: M. Oberosler (ed.), E. Rapetti (ed.), N. Zimmermann (ed.), G. Pirker, I. Carvalho, G. Briz, V. Vivona (2021/22). Learning the Digital. Competendo Handbook for Facilitators.

Created in the frame of the project DIGIT-AL - Digital Transformation Adult Learning for Active Citizenship.





Learning the Digital

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