Have you heard of the concept of “open culture”?
The Centre International d’Art Contemporain de Montréal defines open culture as “a concept according to which knowledge should be spread freely and its growth should come from developing, altering or enriching already existing works on the basis of sharing and collaboration, without being restricted by rules linked to the legal protection of intellectual property. In a context of globalization, the consequence is that all citizens should have equal access to information”.
While ‘open culture’ is a concept that researchers from varied domains are currently studying, it is a philosophy, a mindset. Long have humans confined knowledge to themselves. Why, didn’t the Greek God Zeus himself punish Prometheus for giving man (the knowledge of) fire? For what was Zeus’s prerogative wasn’t mean’t to be shared with others!
Open culture defies that mindset. It frees knowledge from the shackles of egotism and elitism allowing a desirous candidate to know and learn.
Five online environments where open culture is practised:
1. Wikipedia: As previously mentioned, this is THE place for information. When it was first launched, it was highly recommended that readers double-checked facts from the website before using them. Today, with the measures that Wikipedia has itself put into practice, the risk is minimal.
2. Open Culture: A site by the very name. . . you can find hundreds of e-books, audio books, films, K-12 resources, language learning resources and also a few online and certificate courses.
3. Coursera: A site that houses massive open online courses (MOOC) with hundreds of university courses to choose from. Some even offer a paid degree at the end of the course.
4. OpenClassrooms: Hundreds of open classrooms to choose from. Openclassrooms provides classes in three fields: computer science, natural sciences and management. All the classes are in French.
5. iTunesU: The ‘U’ at the end of iTunes stands for ‘university’. Any guesses why? Well, why not change your iTunes store country preference to USA/ UK/ France, etc. to see? Simply click on the appropriate icons to have access to free university courses of your choice. This is now also available as an app downloadable on an iPad.
Other terms that are often used synonymously with “open culture”, yet having different implications: free culture, open content, free content, open source, open educational resources, etc.
“Free” is however not exactly synonymous with “open”. While both suggest there is to be no monetary transaction between the provider and the user, “open” implies that the source code is not disclosed by the provider. What this means, is that if you download an “open” program, software, application, or material, you are not allowed to reproduce or modify it without the original maker’s authorisation. That doesn’t stop us from using the material for non-commercial purposes 😉
– “Open culture”: a definition, Centre International d’Art Contemporain de Montreal.
– Open culture data: Opening GLAM data bottom up
– Baltussen et al, Open culture data position paper, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.