The energy from MozFest is beginning to wear off, but that does not mean that the excitement is gone. We at Commons Machinery were super thrilled to be part of the festival in London and so happy to get people talking about attribution online. We met and talked with so many people and it was very encouraging to hear how excited people are about making attribution happen automatically.
A big thanks to everybody who stopped by our table in the resource lab for all your amazing feedback and ideas. We are very grateful for all your contributions. Also a big thanks to the Mozilla Foundation for organising such a wonderful event – especially thanks to Kaitlin Thaney who was the space wrangler for our track Science and the Web.
On Saturday we hosted a session with the title Giving credit where credit is due. The session was an open discussion on attribution online and lots of good questions and points emerged. Here are some of them:
- Why is attribution so important?
Some of the points about this were that when somebody attributes you, you feel appreciated for your work. The question of credibility in relation to attribution also came up. This question was especially related to science and how the author (and thereby attribution) provides credibility for a paper, but the credibility can also associated with the journal that publishes the paper.
- Sustainable sharing culture
Sharing things online in a way that is sustainable to a sharing or remixing culture is, among other things, about attributing the source of a work. In some sense remixing and sharing is where recycling was 20 years ago (or 10 or 30 years, depending on country). Making sure your empty plastic bottle got in the right bin was not a concern back then. Now it is more or less something we make sure without thinking too much about it. This is to say that social norms about sharing and remixing are slowing evolving, but not yet fully in place.
- Focusing on a positive sharing culture
Some of the aspects that people brought up in the session related to how to make a bullet proof system for automatic attribution. Some of the concerns were ‘malicious attribution’, where one could attribute someone else for a work with malicious intend. Suggestions on how to solve this issue were hashing and other encryption solutions. However, everything can be hacked and like with any other project or technology that works for the greater good of the internet, the tools that Commons Machinery is working on is based on a best effort approach.
- Focusing on solving specific sharing or remixing problems for specific media format and user groups
A one size fits all solution might not be the best way forward, because different groups of work creators have different needs. From there on more general concepts and technologies should emerge.
You can find the session notes in this etherpad.
One of the things that MozFest showed us is the need for more discussion on these things. We are working on a solution that could facilitate more discussion on this – so you have to stay tuned for that.
The next time Commons Machinery will be out and about IRL is for the Internet Discovery Day [website in Swedish] in Stockholm the 26th of November. We hope to see you there.