Where to go from here

I’ve just recently had my last day at Creative Commons, where I worked as counsel for almost three years. I was hired early in the 4.0 drafting process (it is only half a joke that it was easier for them to simply hire me than to continue to answer my emails), staying to see it published and to support the translation and compatibility efforts. CC is a nonprofit organization, supported primarily by large foundation grants; for something that makes up a significant piece in building the open web, it’s more fragile than it perhaps should be, and in an effort to balance the budget many of the staff were let go. So here I am, using some of my newfound free time being to revive my dormant website. 1

Drafting a standard license is the sort of thing is it fantastic to do once. There simply shouldn’t be that many in the world, and they shouldn’t be revised often. And so despite the task being one I enjoy and am well suited to, I hope that I don’t do it again… at least, not for a long time. 2 But one of the other things I loved about the position is that when you mention what you do, you become a lightning rod for everyone with ideas about copyright licensing, and why it is or isn’t important. I had more good conversations with people who care about this topic than almost anyone else, and had to work through more unusual thought experiments (and actual problems!) than I would have in any other place. And, both because of the job and because I am the sort of person who wanted to do it, I’ve thought about and had conversations about several topics over again where I don’t think my position is the obvious one. I haven’t really written any of it down outside of mailing lists, if at all, and for someone who believes in openness, this is ridiculous.

Some one-line examples:

* The licenses are out, but CC’s work isn’t finished
* …but finishing a project and winding it down should be a sign of success, not failure
* “Pragmatic” vs. “ideological” is usually the wrong way to split up the debate
* You only find out what was wrong with your drafting choices when you ask people to translate them
* The post-copyright society is a myth, and pretending it isn’t doesn’t help
* Your legal terms should mean what they say and say what they mean
* No one knows how license compatibility works
* Nonprofits are the worst, except for most of the other things

I think I’ve spoken about all of these, but I am still terrible about writing in public, even for something as simple as posting to a mailing list. (I have a growing collection of thoughts, from bullet points to multi-paragraph fragments, in a text file where they do no one any good.)

A friend whose own writing I admire advised me to “lower the threshold of what’s postable”–so I will take that as my goal. Because I’d like to have these conversations with more people than just those I’ve met at conferences… and some less serious ones besides.


  1. I am still looking for what to do next; your thoughts and suggestions are welcomed.
  2. (This is better than patent drafting–which I learned in law school and found an enjoyable challenge, especially for trying to draft as broadly as possible within the bounds of what is truthful and lawful to claim. But the only field I’d really be qualified to do this in is software, and I would prefer not to create any software patents at all.)


You know how it is: you go to update your blog with a new post and notice something is slightly broken, and really you should update your WordPress installation more than once every few years. So you update–or try to, which requires some fiddling around with the settings of the server you’re using (from your web host; you’re not crazy enough to DIY). OK, *now* you update, and now everything has gone blank. You search for why this could be and the possible fixes and you try them and they don’t work, and you try things that no one has suggested and they also don’t work, and you feel slightly embarrassed about even describing the mess you have gotten yourself into.

And really you just wanted to quickly adapt an email with an idea that could stand alone into a blog post, and now it has been far more than the 15 minutes you planned, and you have something else to do, and you don’t blog again for 2 years because fixing the problem is still on your to-do list.

You know how it is, right?

So here is a new post, again (on a completely fresh install rather than an upgrade). Maybe I’ll even put up the thing I had intended to publish the first time. And some of the rest of the two years of backlog.

On having a blog again

I am a little ambivalent about having a blog. I had one when it was still cool (I think), and gave it up, about 6 years ago. I’m not very good at being timely, and I really, really like having revision history easily available–Wikipedia has spoiled me. So I have a wiki I’ve been using for the writings and media I’ve managed to collect that I’m not too embarrassed to put on the web. I love the timelessness of wikis, and anything serious will get posted there so history is visible. But it’s nice to see something that indicates when the author was present, too. And with most of the people I communicate with using feedreaders and update monitors–or at least checking updates on social media sites–it makes it possible for me to write sporadically, not to feel pressured to dash off something miserable just to let everyone know I’m still here.

Now I want everything to have a feed… so it seems I should publish my own stuff as I want others to publish. And it seems a little bit ridiculous to be an open content advocate and keep most of my own stuff hidden away on my hard drive. (Yes, as the footer says, everything I post is licensed under CC-BY-SA, unless noted otherwise. If that doesn’t work for you, ask.)

Of course, I intend to cheat a bit and repost some things from my archives that I might have posted elsewhere. But you probably haven’t seen them. And anyway, if you’re expecting up-to-the-minute journalism, you’re probably in the wrong place…

First Post

It’s so easy to keep delaying when you don’t know how to start. I could think of the perfect thing to write about what I want to say, why I’m giving in to the desire to blog even though I’m ambivalent about the format, who I am and why you might be interested in my ramblings. But I won’t. I have a few half-written drafts of such posts, from months ago–and they’re not posted yet. So I give up on the idea of the perfect introduction. I’m just going to make a first post.