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Oxcars and Free Culture Forum 2010 highlights (1)

November 1, 2010

These past few days I was able to attend some of the free culture events that have taken place in Barcelona. Some quick highlights:

Friday, 28 Oct 2010: The Oxcars: 21ºº h – Sala Apolo, Nou de la Rambla, 113, Barcelona. Metro: Paral.lel.

A hugely entertaining celebration of free culture held at the Sala Apolo. A cross between cabaret, campaigning, clubbing and award-giving ceremony organised by EXGAE, an activist outfit based in Barcelona whose mission is to help liberate “all individuals and author/artists from the abuses of the cultural industry trade groups“.

More info about the Oxcars ceremony here:

Friday 28 Oct-Sunday 30 Oct 2010: Free Culture Forum.

I could only attend a few sessions, but here go some notes:

Open Public Sector Information (PSI) initiatives. Piedmonte (Italy) case study.

Tim Berners-Lee: we need raw data now – unrefined, non-aggregated data. Raw data is like a natural resource (water, land) cos always renewed/updated.

User-generated content + raw data + other sources = value added.

Piedmonte 2009 portal included re-use trackrecord and future apps contests at regional level.

  • right to data
  • open by default
  • standard licenses, mostly Creative Commons (CC)

Important to work at local/regional level cos most data about our lives held at these levels, esp. in fragmented countries such as Italy.

No economic justification for chasing private sector for re-use of PSI cos cost next to zero to produce.

David Bollier (Commons Strategy Group, USA) on commons and the internet

Internet facing mid-life crisis. As it continues to diversify at great speed, three types of enclosure on the Web:

  1. devices: blackberry, iphone, ipad – new kinds of walled garden
  2. service providers: giant oligopolies, so defeating ACTA very important
  3. the Cloud: ‘free services’ in return for data-mining and spying on us

Choke points become excuses for govs to enclose commons. Net doesn’t trump national sovereignty as hoped for in 1990s.

Two priorities for those of us who care about these things: (i) maintain open infrastructures, (ii) develop effective micro-economic yet market-friendly models.

Must protect commons as ‘fountainheads of abundance’.

[From Bollier’s website:

Many of the resources that people collectively own — forests, minerals, government and the broadcast airwaves, public schools, cultural spaces — are increasingly being taken over by private business interests, often with the full complicity of their government. This trend represents a modern-day “enclosure of the commons” — a vast appropriation of common assets that is siphoning revenues from the public treasury, shifting ownership and control from public to private interests, and eroding democratic processes and shared cultural values.


Value is in flow not ownership.  Must focus on real commons-based models to create biz models/hybrids that will conserve and enhance commons as commons. Not okay to privatise commons, okay to monetise products of commons.

Must secure perimeter of commons; ‘beating the bounds’ (medieval practice); sanctions for vandals. Some successful examples include:

  • fashion – one of oldest open source models: sustainable monetisation
  • academic research and publishing: all sorts of collegial sharing going on

Can crowdsourcing scale up successfully? Keen to hear from other conf participants about this.

Quandary for corporate capitalism: how to capture value of commons without destroying it. Book titled Democratising Innovation intriguing in this regard, as well as Bauwens’ idea of guilds.

To be continued…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Toni Roig permalink
    November 2, 2010 7:52 pm

    John, what a wonderful and useful report on the FCF and the Oxcars (I unfortunately missed it). Hope to disuss it soon with a beer. Cheers!

  2. November 2, 2010 8:11 pm

    The Oxcars were right up your street; there was even a short presentation about the fan film Born of Hope ( and chat on stage with its director, Kate Madison.

    I’ll explain it all over a birra.

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