Grants/Common Quill

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Common Quill

Applicants: Remix Austin, EFF-Austin
Affiliation: Remix Austin, EFF-Austin
CC affiliated? No
Contact: Rich Vazquez
Coordinator: Rich Vazquez
Project Start: 2010/09/01
Project End: 2010/10/31,
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Describe the project you are proposing as clearly as possible in just five sentences.

This project would produce a web site hosting CC and public domain fiction allowing derivative works. Individuals will be able to borrow a character, place, creature, thing or theme from a story and create a derivative work. You will also be able to view the creative DNA of a work, much like CC Mixter, by seeing where a character or work originated and who has remixed it.

Detail the tangible project output (e.g., paper, blog post, written materials, video/film, etc.; this would be in addition to the final written report that successful grant recipients will be expected to deliver to CC at the conclusion of the project).

A web site and community were amateur and professional writers will be able to remix historical fiction and modern CC fiction. The site will be built on open source technology, but a determinations hasn't been made as to whether to full project will be open source or not. The first focus will be on long term viability of the project, which may require more commercial focus to pay for growing hardware and software needs, opening to open source to increase developer base or registering as a nonprofit or corporation to commit to long term success.

One overarching goal is to start a set of semantics used for sharing and remixing stories, while tracking their DNA. I began the vocabulary for the ontology last year at VoCamp Austin.

Describe the community you are targeting. How would the project benefit the community?

Most Creative Commons efforts appear focus on image, video and music. There are prominent authors releasing works in Creative Commons, but the dominating presence of the written word with CC license has been via blogs.

All writers of every stripe, librarians, ontologists and commoners. Remixing music is a lot easier to understand and jump on – with observable instruments, vocals and musical traditions. Literature has similar rhythms and instruments that are less observable to the untrained eye. Projects like Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) have attempted to categorize such themes. Characters have archetypes and even objects have symbology.

The benefit will be rethinking and seeing tangible results of remixing the elements of story. This will hopefully encourage a growth in appreciating CC fiction. Writers will have a tool to read CC literature and combat writer's block while also engaging writing exercises and increasing the mind share of public />

What is your relationship with the community you are targeting? Why are you the best individual/organization to lead this project? Do you have prior experience in related projects?

I have been researching and prototyping the appropriate architecture for such a project for three years. That research has included outlining characters, themes and objects in “baseline” public domain and CC stories and well as beginning implementation of the site. It has not been fully implemented because I lacked the resources to ensure I could sustain the server traffic if it took off.

I started holding the first Creative Commons Salons in Austin in 2008 and have since hosted several workshops and sessions with local organizations and conference events. I have local partnerships to promote it and they may be able to reach to outside areas.

I have written short stories, plays and screenplays and attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts for Dramatic Writing. I read for the screenplay competition for the Austin Film Festival, teach Copyright, CC and Telling Your Story for Lights Camera Help to nonprofits. I also work in the news industry.

In short, I work with storytelling in a variety of formats and have been promoting and teaching CC and storytelling for several years.

How will you measure and evaluate your project’s impact - on your main participants? Other contributors? On the larger community?

There will be a measurable number of registrants as writers. I will seed the community with public domain fiction and CC fiction. Success will be measured by the number of completed remixes and new initial works posted by authors, as well as the success of spun off characters.

Each work created will be a success, but there should be a larger dialogue created in the writing world as well.

How many participants do you expect to be involved in your project? How will you seek and sustain their involvement?

I will be the initial developer and will open it up if I need assistance. I will be using open source frameworks to speed up development and prepare for potential open source. My preference is to open the source after the product is mature, but may change that to be sooner.

The more important participation is fro the audience and professional writers (for credibility). Long term, I'd like to be able to allow readers to create books from the remixed works and push them through Lulu or other mediums for revenue sharing. That's much more time and work intensive, so hopefully the creative social network will suffice initially. The inspiration factor for writers may also provide sustainable energy.

Describe how your project will benefit Creative Commons' mission to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons".

This will highlight existing literary works already available, which I believe are very under-utilized and many may be ignorant of.

It will bring other literary works to the commons by every derivation and will have new authors posting their stories and derivations.

Literary remixes have received little focus and this will provide structure for remixing and a starting point.

Describe what technologies and tools your project will use. What kinds of technical skills and expertise do you bring to the project? What are your technical needs?

I am a full time web developer. I have been creating web sites using Joomla and its predecessors for 10 years. The project will likely utilize Joomla and the new Nooku framework as the Anahita social framework. I am currently working with these on other projects and should be able to cross-over lessons learned.

According to the grant statements, Creative Commons can handle web hosting, so this proposal does not include that. Those requirements would be for a LAMP server. Linux, Apache, PHP, MySQL. I will host the project on Github.

What challenges do you expect to face, and how do you plan to overcome them?

Initial participation and understanding is the primary risk. I'm hoping CC can alert their community and have contacts with at least one prominent CC writer. My hope is to launch by having a single story remixed and a prize awarded. It would help if that writer had some existing fan base, for legitimacy and publicity.

If nothing else, there are CC stories by prominent writers that can be used as the base for the contest.

Initial development will be intense, but the planning and structure is already done.

How do you plan to sustain your project after the Creative Commons funding has ended? Detail specific plans. How do you plan to raise revenue to continue your efforts in the future?

There are two different options. A commercial venture which so far has two parts: 1) allows “invisible writing”, that is a subscription that allows writers to work in quiet inspiration instead of being fully public all the time. By default as soon as you start writing or spin off a story, your story will be public. This would also allow you to write stories based on other works or characters long term. 2) Creating books as gifts based on short stories. A nonprofit venture would be more oriented towards opening the source code and creating a foundation to support that structure. It could follow the same model as the commercial option. A nonprofit option is preferred.

How can this project be scalable, or have a scalable impact?

The very nature of the project will encourage a proliferation of written fiction for the commons. It will renew interest in the public domain works that are part of our national treasures and will encourage more thought on when works should be available to the public culture.

I don't believe the written word has received an appropriate amount of attention in the remix culture.

What resources and support do you expect Creative Commons to provide to your project to ensure its success (if any)?

Reaching out to CC authors profiled in the past for inclusion and the possible first launch.

Describe how your organization currently communicates with its community members and network partners. (100 words)

I am currently on the board of EFF-Austin, Lights Camera Help and other organizations. These groups use social networking and mailing lists, but the purpose would be to create a new community based on literature remix. That will include Social Media integration and a new online community on one site.