The Learning Resource Metadata Initiative specification (which Creative Commons is coordinating) has entered its final public commenting period. Please look if you’re at all interested in education metadata and/or how efforts spurred by schema.org (which LRMI is) will shape up.
The W3C published drafts recently that ought be of great interest to the Creative Commons technology community: a family of documents regarding provenance and a guide to using microdata, microformats, and RDFa in HTML. I mentioned these on my personal blog here and here.
Speaking of things mentioned on my personal blog, a couple days ago I posted some analysis of how people are deploying CC related metadata based on a structured data extracted by the Web Data Commons project from a sample of the Common Crawl corpus. Earlier this month I posted a marginally technical explanation of using CSS text overlays to provide attribution and a brief historical overview of ‘open hardware licensing’, something which the CC technology team hasn’t been involved in, but is vaguely labs-ish, and needs deep technical attention.
Other things needing deep technical attention: how CC addresses Digital Restrictions Management in version 4.0 of its licenses is being discussed. We don’t know enough about the technical details of various restricted systems (see last sentence) that CC licensed works are being distributed on/to/with every day, and ought to. Another needs-technical-attention issue is ‘functional content’ for example in games and 3D printing. And we’re still looking for a new CTO.
Addendum: It seems remiss to not mention SOPA, so I’m adding it. Thanks to the technology community for rising up against this bad policy. CC promoted the campaign on its main website through banners and a number of blog posts. Don’t forget that SOPA/PIPA may well rise again, the so-called Research Works Act is very different but is motivated by the same thinking, and ACTA threatens globally. Keep it up! In the long term, is not building a healthy commons (and thus technology needed to facilitate building a healthy commons) a big part of the solution? On that, see yet another post on my personal blog…No Comments »
If you follow the links in the post linked above, you can find out a lot about the technology we’re looking for someone to be chief officer of. Why not submit a patch, bug report, or documentation edit with your resume? ;-)No Comments »
Who I am
I’m Nils Dagsson Moskopp, a 22 year old student of philosophy and computer science, living in Berlin (German speakers may check out my blog). I dislike the act of programming, but love the results, so I seem to have no other choice than to do it from time to time.
Recently, after submitting a proposal, I got accepted into the Google Summer of Code program, being mentored by Nathan Kinkade. In the rest of this entry, I will do my best to explain how it came to that and what kind of software I intend to create.
As far as I know, there currently is no automated, easy way to have human- and machine-readable markup for specific subsections of a blog post in the blogging software WordPress; it is only possible to have an entire page licensed under one specific license. Further complicating the issue is the fact that the WordPress media manager actually does not know about licenses accociated with specific content. This poses a problem for the not-so-uncommon use case of embedding CC-licensed media, mainly photos.
I was first confronted with the idea of having an automated way to markup media with Creative Commons licensing information when reading Matthias Mehldau‘s post More precise Creative Commons HTML-Codes. He envisioned an annotation containing not only the well-known CC license symbols, but also the jurisdiction and a button to show the markup used, for easy re-embedding. Well versed in graphics design, he also created a mockup:
Matthias Mehldau’s Mockup
Shortly after that, Julia Seeliger posted a suggestion how a Creative Commons plugin backend for WordPress could look like. She suggested integrating the official license chooser or a drop down list within the WordPress upload form.
We three chatted about these ideas, me even actually implementing some parts (see next section), but nothing qualifying as currently usable came from that. When approximately one year later, I did come upon the CC wiki site describing the developer challenge titled Support for CC licenses in WordPress Media Manager, I chose to apply for that with Google Summer of Code.
As mentioned in the introduction to the last section, a tool that provides easy licensing management for WordPress media content, automating subsequent insertion, currently does not exist. Several existing projects, however, have features related to this goal; code re-use may be possible.
In 2006, George Notaras created the Creative-Commons-Configurator WordPress Plugin. It allows the user to choose a global license for his or her blog, using
the web-based license selection engine from CreativeCommons.org and adds localized machine- and human-readable license information to pages and feeds. Similar plugins, putting global licensing information into footer and sidebars, exist.
For GSoC 2009, Dinishika Nuwangi made a WordPress plugin called wprdfa (not to confuse with wp-rdfa). Unfortunately, the project has an empty README file. Judging from a quick glance at the source code, part of its intended purpose is to add buttons to the TinyMCE editor integrated into WordPress, although on installation I was unable to see this functionality. The related developer challenge still seems to be open, on the page the plugin is described as
Also in 2009, I created two pieces of software, inspired by a post on the WHATWG mailing list. First, a web application generating HTML5 license markup (enriched with Microdata, see next section), second a WordPress plugin capable of generating similar markup using both Microdata and RDFa. And there was much rejoicing.
It is important to note that since then the HTML5 standard has changed and the generated markup is no longer valid.
On a less technical note, the German blog Spreeblick has a unique way of presenting the license information, only showing a small “cc” in the bottom left corner; on hovering, author name and a link to the source are presented (live example). However, while Spreeblick is using WordPress, the folks behind it have no intention of releasing their plugin: As Max Winde told me in April 2009, it is tightly entangled with their image layout functionality and would require complex cleanup.
I plan to implement the presentation part using the new HTML5 elements figure and figcaption. Together, they can be used to denote content
with a caption […] that is self-contained and is typically referenced as a single unit from the main flow of the document. A code example shows how markup using the figure element may looks like:
<!-- content goes here -->
Naturally, as a rather general markup language HTML5 does not contain any elements to give this construct more specific meaning, such as marking up which license applies to said content. However, two markup extensions provide this capability at the attribute level, the complex and established RDFa and the simpler, newer Microdata proposal, part of HTML5. While both standards are sufficiently open, RDFa is endorsed by Creative Commons; for this reason I will not stray into Microdata territory unless I have time to spare at the end of GSoC.
To this point, I have been only accounting for machine readability. Nevertheless, with CSS it is easily possible to beautify the visual presentation in nearly any way imaginable. The following two screenshots, taken with the now-defunct WordPress plugin I created in 2009, exemplify this — both are based on the same markup.
On the author side, I plan to have the plugin look like the Spreeblick one (screenshot), which will mean adding options to the WordPress media uploader:
- an additional drop down list, for choosing one of the six main CC licenses
- an additional text input for the author or rights holder
- an additional text input for specifying the source URI
Media could then be inserted the usual way, with the RDFa annotation automatically generated.10 Comments »
In a follow-up to Mike’s post about XMP, I (through CC) have been working with Adobe XMP’s product manager, Gunar Penikis, on how CC and Adobe can work together on XMP. Also, in the same line, I’m friends with and working with Cyrille Berger and Hubert Figuiere, who have each noted how positive of a step releasing XMP SDK/Toolkit under a BSD license is for the larger community.
I’m having some other discussions with all the above mentioned folks with regards to how this is going to pan out, but all I can say is that it is going to encouage XMP to flourish, and return help smooth out metadata and embedding across the board.
This really frees up the space for more developments1 Comment »