Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dreaming Small

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales recently sent the following message to his fellow Wikipedians, which encouraged them to Dream a Little

I would like to gather from the community some examples of works you would like to see made free, works that we are not doing a good job of generating free replacements for, works that could in theory be purchased and freed.

Dream big. Imagine there existed a budget of $100 million to purchase copyrights to be made available under a free license. What would you like to see purchased and released under a free license?

Photos libraries? textbooks? newspaper archives? Be bold, be specific, be general, brainstorm, have fun with it.

I was recently asked this question by someone who is potentially in a position to make this happen, and he wanted to know what we need, what we dream of, that we can't accomplish on our own, or that we would expect to take a long time to accomplish on our own.

In looking at the responses, it is interesting to see how relatively modest their ideas are: scientific data and scholarly journals are frequently mentioned, which are already moving toward electronic distribution, because of the prohibitive costs associated with producing and distributing print materials. Also frequently mentioned, and more likely to stir corporate wrath, textbooks.

It's a sensible way to approach it, I suppose, to avoid big ticket items, like the Beatles catalogue or the works of T.S. Eliot. I'd, of course, probably end up spending all the time and money trying to buy the Mickey Mouse trademark -- for humor value if for nothing else -- and wind up with nothing to show for my efforts.



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