Democracy, like culture itself, must be a collaborative project. — Siva Vaidhyanathan
openDemocracy (oD) offers an independent voice on global news and current affairs via a leading online magazine. Promoting ‘free thinking for the world,’ the site exists to ‘publish clarifying debates to help stimulate your mind, challenge your perceptions and then invite and encourage you to take part’ in a range of prominent issues surrounding human rights and democracy (http://www.britishcouncil.org/zerocarboncity-debate.htm). oD bridges geographical boundaries, as well as those of class, gender and sexuality, ensuring that marginalised views and voices have presence. Since its establishment in 2001, oD has hosted contributions by citizens of both the North and South, together with leading thinkers and prominent public figures such as Kofi Annan, Salman Rushdie, Richard Stallman and Siva Vaidhyanathan.
Published by openDemocracy Limited, part of the openDemocracy Foundation for the Advancement of Global Education, oD is headquartered in London, UK, and maintains an office in New York. Debates and articles from across the oD website discuss democracy & power, media & the net, ecology & place, faith & ideas, globalisation, conflicts, arts & cultures, people and women & power, with an initiative to have a 50:50 gender balance on the site. Images used on oD are published on Flickr.
On 14 June, 2005, openDemocracy announced a partnership with Creative Commons to ‘bring works by the world’s leading scholars and writers into the global commons’ (http://creativecommons.org/press-releases/entry/5476). With the commitment to release the work of 150 oD authors under a default Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence, openDemocracy was the first major online publisher to adopt the CC framework on a large scale. In October 2005, Creative Commons’ Senior Counsel Mia Garlick discussed the implications of this decision with oD’s co-managing editor, Solana Larsen, on the Creative Commons blog, who declares that oD’s commitment is ‘to getting ideas out in circulation.’ Meeting with ‘genuine enthusiasm’ by its contributing authors, oD’s agreement with Creative Commons has allowed the public to republish most of the articles on the openDemocracy.net site for non-commercial ends.
- ‘Practically, the use of [Creative Commons] licences grant participating openDemocracy authors… more control over how their works will echo through the world of digital text. They will encourage free republication and dissemination of their articles in non-commercial media across the globe.’ - Siva Vaidhyanathan
Describing oD’s trajectory from closed to open, Solana Larsen celebrates the decision to make the magazine’s archive accessible to all, confident that people will ‘read republished articles and be drawn to the source by curiosity.’
- ‘Editorially, openDemocracy has paid a great deal of attention to the legal struggles that led to the development of the Creative Commons, and interviewed both Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond when Napster was still a big story. Intellectually, it was a piece of cake to see that the Creative Commons offers a constructive and democratic solution to a really huge problem. Practically, it was harder to walk boldly into unknown territory.’ - Solana Larsen in interview with Mia Garlick.
Welcoming the collaboration between Creative Commons and openDemocracy in 2005, Siva Vaidhyanathan sees the move as ‘making a profound statement about the importance of openness and the dangers of a culture of excessive ownership.’
- ‘The fact that openDemocracy’s articles get picked up and re-posted on other sites, or made available out of context through Google News, not only gets them to more people, it directs some of those readers back to the site… The link back to openDemocracy, through attribution and through a literal hyperlink, is a kind of advertising, a kind of invitation, a kind of enticement.’ - Siva Vaidhyanathan
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/dr_john2005/64792036/) 'Eye, Oxford Road, Manchester, 2001' by Dr John2005 under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0