In association with heise online

25 March 2008, 19:46

Three penguins, two wiki facts, and a free partridge recipe

Susanne Schmidt

Part 3: Games, fun, hobbies and culture

Open Source and Linux are on everyone's lips. Newspapers are always filled with the next internet hype: Web 2.0, social networking, user generated content - and all of it free for everyone. Or is it?

Our three-part series goes hunting for the free content available on the internet - from entertainment and education through science and research to knitting patterns and photo collections. Part three investigates games, fun, hobbies and culture: craft tutorials, knitting patterns, photo collections, free journalism and more.

Part 1: Free music, movies and books
Part 2: Free science, research and education
Part 3: Hobbies and culture

The extent to which the free software idea has started to affect other areas is impressive. Of course, the concept of free music, movies and books is likely to have received a nice boost when sharing portals became popular (although they frequently contain pirate copies of copyrighted material). Free access to research results and scientific publications is highlighted by predictions of a knowledge society and the much recited competition from countries like China or India, but also by the demands of developing countries who want to stop patents and trademarks from restricting their basic medical supplies.

Anyone else? What's left is a large proportion of the population with its leisure activities. Take one look at the abundance of blogs and you will see that more and more bloggers publish their content under Creative Commons (CC) licenses. Although scribblings about everyday events may not seem the most important thing on earth, they do reveal an interesting attitude: using free licenses is becoming part of Joe Blogg's normal everyday life on the internet.

By now, the generous offerings range from recipes to media art and electronics design, from origami to freely usable stock photography, from icons and buttons to t-shirt prints to free clip art. The concept of freely shared knowledge and experience - something the software world has long known in form of how-tos - finds its equal outside the IT world in the form of language course podcasts, screencast tutorials for graphics programs, video tutorials for knitting and tinkering with micro controllers, skill sharing events.

The main problem of this type of free access is that it is usually not managed centrally but distributed far and wide on the internet - especially in blogs, which contain one handful of CC-licensed content here and another one there.

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