The Great Book of Knowledge | CBC Ideas

Image via The Atlantic

Adding to our recent discussions of Howard Zinn’s look at Columbus’ meeting with the Arawak People, as well as our emerging inquiries into the nature and meaning of history, culture, and truth, this weekend’s homework listening is the recent CBC Ideas episode The Great Book of Knowledge (Part I).  From the episode page:

We used to need libraries to make the sum of human knowledge available to all. Today we have Wikipedia, where the sum of human knowledge can be shaped by all of us. But can we trust it? Philip Coulter suggests that the collective mind is perhaps the best mind we have.

It features 30 million articles, in 287 languages. And it’s written and edited — for free — by 77,000 contributors around the world.

What did we do before Wikipedia? Well, if you wanted to know something, you looked it up in a book. And if you didn’t have the book yourself, you had to go to the library.

In the old days, books contained pretty much all the information there was. And they were written by “experts” — and that usually didn’t mean you.

But what if you knew something that the guy who wrote the book didn’t know? Or what if they were wrong? Well, too bad.

And then, along came the computer, and after that, the wiki. And everything changed forever.

In addition to finding a playable version of the episode on the page linked above, you may also download The Great Book of Knowledge in the iTunes store, or as an mp3 by clicking this link. Or this one right here. Those with devices will find CBC Ideas in the Podcast Ap.

For Monday, have an outline and/or notes on the episode to discuss with the class. As well, you are invited to engage in discussion of various elements of the episode on the Talons Social Studies Twitter hashtag: #talonsSS. 

Copyright and Creative Commons- Donya

When I was a little girl in the 3rd grade, I learned a lesson about the ownership of your work.

I was very excited about the art project that my teacher was giving the class instructions for. I can hardly remember what it was now, but I think it involved something with paint and stencils.

Anyways, after the instructions were given, my class raced to the front of the room where the supplies where neatly stored, grabbed what they needed and proceeded to set up camp at their own respective desks.

After retrieving my own supplies, I think I spent about 10 minutes going over what I wanted to draw, carefully planning out where each princess and rainbow went, because our teacher had already expressed the need to save paper and only permitted us to use one sheet.

It took the rest of the time in class for my creation to be complete. I remember having my friends and classmates walk past my desk, only to stop and look at  my picture, maybe even give me a compliment on it. And I, being the attention craving 3rd grader that I was, soaked up all of the positive feedback.

Once everyone was finished with their creative endeavor, our teacher made her rounds, looking over each and every one of our pictures, giving us sugary sweet compliments that only an elementary school teacher could get away with.

My teacher was very orderly, so, whenever checking over any of our work, she routinely started from the front left side of the class and completed her tour at the back right side.

It just so happened that I was the one sitting in the last seat that month.

So there I was, awaiting the shower of praise that my teacher would give me and what did I get instead?

A sideways look and some disappointed whispering about “forming your own creative ideas”.

My teacher, in so many words, had called me the adult equivalent of a “Copy Cat”. My own teacher!

I was shocked. Baffled even. My picture was the cultivation of my own imagination! Not something that I happened to see while walking around the room!

As of then, I was officially on a mission, a mission to reclaim my honour and expose the impostor who had tainted my reputation!

Except, back then, I wasn’t strongly spoken, so confronting the person who copied me was out of the question.

I did, however, get her name, and where her desk was (one of the front desks) and even explicitly remembered her comment. Something along the lines of “Oh wow! That picture is super! I wish I could draw like you!”

Ever since then, our relationship consisted of my angry glare and her confused response.

But I know deep down inside, that she knows what evils she committed.

Ever since that fateful day, I had developed a reinforced, 24/7 surveillance security system when it came to presenting my work. I was always incredibly reluctant to share any ideas for group projects, and I absolutely hated it when someone asked me if they could “use my idea”.

Now that I’m in grade 10, I realize that collaborating and expressing your ideas is the only way to truly understand something. Having someone use your idea and add some of their own opinions has become the highest form of a compliment for me.

For example:

Veronica had posted an amazing audio file that combined the classes “This I Believe” statements, accompanied with some awesome music.

A few days later, Jonathan T had turned Veronica’s audio into an artfully created video (with her permission). He provided his personal touch to her work.

The end result was near perfect.

If teenagers can collaborate maturely, then why do big record labels, and other programs (with an already obscene amount of money) feel the need to bar creativity with things like Copyright?

I believe, as long as no one else has taken full credit for building on top of an idea, there is no reason to place a restriction on creation.

So, Copyright:

Is it your friend? Or a thorn in your backside?


PS: I give anyone permission to use this post to further their own and others knowledge and perspective, whether it be a video mash up, a song, or illustrations, I encourage you to make something out of these words.

Just remember that, along with your name, mine should be there too.