Friday, June 25, 2010

Post-event: Inaugural CC Salon SG, 25th Jun 2010 at HackerspaceSG

Just came back from the first ever CC Salon SG (here's the programme line up).

Pretty good turnout. About 30 people, slightly more? I was expecting only 15 to 20 people.

At the last minute, I decided not to be the MC, as I wanted to keep this informal and instill a sense that its really community-driven rather than a curated event. Told the presenters to just step up, introduce themselves, and speak.

Preetam Rai on "Sharing my Images with a CC license"
First up was Preetam.
About Preetam - Preetam Rai Preetam Rai on "Sharing my Images with a CC license" CC Salon SG, 25th Jun 2010
Preetam shared about his experiences in sharing his photos under a CC license. Like how his photo of a cathedral in Budapest was used in a Wikipedia entry. And how GlobalVoicesOnline eventually invited him to work for them, after he had been contributing his CC licensed work there. And finally he talked about ideas for "tipping" contributors (I remember reading this in one of his blog post, but can't find the post at the moment).

Kevin Lim on "Marginalia: Giving books their social life"
Next was Kevin, who gave a slightly more academic slant to the evening's line-up. He shared about the concept of Social Marginalia and how online social platforms was extending the phenomenon. Some links he shared during his talk:, Commentpress, Kevin has also published his PhD dissertation at, which he intends to experiment with the idea of social marginalia too.
theory.isthereason Kevin Lim on "Marginalia: Giving books their social life" CC Salon SG, 25th Jun 2010
I thought Marginalia was a form of vandalism, if the book didn't belong to you. But with online social platforms, it wouldn't be considered vandalism if additional comments are made without destroying or defacing the original content.

Stefano Virgilli on “Adobe After Effects demo: Creating animated words”
Stefano was next, where he shared a video of how he created animated words with an Adobe product, and where others could find his CC-licensed source files. Stefano opted to show a video rather than do a "live" demo.
Lab Trainers | trainers | staff Stefano Virgilli on "Adobe After Effects demo: Creating animated words": CC Salon SG, 25th Jun 2010
One lady in the audience seemed to take issue with the fact that Stefano wasn't using an Open Source app.

My gut reaction was that one didn't need to use Open Source apps per se. For instance, I use a proprietary software, GarageBand, to create music and remixes, which I subsequently release and license under CC. That doesn't make it less legitimate.

But later I thought about her question, and wondered if she was referring to the release of the source files in their native file formats. Would we have the right to license the source files under a CC license?

I think the conservative answer is that one cannot. Because while I may be providing my creative outputs within the native files, I may not have the rights to attach a CC license for the entire source file. But I also wonder from the legal standpoint if I could argue that I'm not providing the source file per se, but using it as a container for the creative work. Or does the Doctrine of First Sale apply here, in the context of software (incidentally I happened to read this Law Gazette article yesterday).

Tricky. But interesting questions.

Inch Chua on “Creative Commons & The Opposing Innovation”
The topping on the cake for this CC Salon SG session was, without any doubt, a young talented lady named Inch Chua (yup, it's her real name; I asked)
Peace, Love & Mistletoe | Inch Chua Inch Chua on “Creative Commons & The Opposing Innovation" CC Salon SG, 25th Jun 2010
She started sharing about issues of piracy and CC (which upon hindsight, would have made her talk into a potentially dull one, since she wasn't sharing anything new to this crowd). But luckily, her talk was more about her personal reasons and experiences in adopting CC.

I thought she hit a sweet spot by revealing how she had tried to sell her music via iTunes before abandoning that model. After all the administrative work involved, she was earning less than 10cents for every song sold (iTunes sells them at 99cents). She wondered if it was worth all the effort in paperwork when she earned barely a tenth of what her work was sold via the online store.

"What was the difference in giving away the songs free?", she asked.

That experience pushed her to adopt CC licenses for her songs, leaving her to focus on "live" performances.

She asked something really though-provoking: "Is sharing = devaluing one's work?"

In reality, I think many people may think so. Sharing for free, when one could earn something (never mind how little), was akin to decreasing the value of one's work. Or was it?

It's a philosophical position, I think. My stand is that if "value" is equated with "use" rather than "revenue", then not sharing and not being discovered is the real killer.

Did CC make a positive difference for Inch? I think the answer to that question is again something personal, and therefore speculative.

What I do know is that we had one talented young lady tonight, who will be launching her new album soon. And will be performing at Esplanade (tickets at $25).

She gamely sang us two of her compositions:
Inch Chua performing two of her own songs - CC Salon SG, 25th Jun 2010

Prior to meeting Inch Chua in person, I have listened to her songs and was quite impressed (even more impressed after learning that she was the first Singapore solo artist selected to perform at the South By Southwest, SXSW, music festival).

Having met her in person tonight, I was impressed by her overall confidence and down-to-earthiness sort of way (and I'm sure many in the audience feel that way too).

Just before completing this post, I've just gone back to her website and made a donation. Or you can consider it a purchase of this album in particular. It's not a large sum but still, she's definitely getting more than 10cents per song from me :)

Next CC Salon SG?
Maybe in three months' time. I don't dare to promise there will be one CC Salon SG every month.

Or maybe the next session doesn't need to have speakers. In which case, it's a matter of fixing a regular date/ time and have an open showcase of CC licensed works, i.e. whoever turns up is free to share their work.

Let me think about it. Suggestions are most welcome (leave a comment!)

Oh, Kevin suggested every CC Salon SG should have at least one musician/ performer. And I agree, so I'll try to find them :)

BTW, thanks to Ruiwen from HackerspaceSG, for sponsoring the space. He said tonight's event was the most "happening" at HackerspaceSG this year, and would welcome us back there. Thanks!

I thought HackerspaceSG offered a very informal and cozy setting for this sort of sharing and networking session. In fact, several attendees were already members of HackerspaceSG.

p.s. I'll also find time to blog about how this inaugural CC Salon SG session came to be, how the speakers were selected (or maybe, why it took so long to organise one, heh).


  1. Dear Ivan, this is exactly what my colleagues and I are looking for.

    We should use CC license for all the modified teaching materials that we have and are creating so it can be shared across ministries (MOE, MCYS) as well as the public (ie, parents can use them at home)

    It just doesn't make sense for all of us in the industry to re-invent the wheel everyday for every lesson.

    What that lady asked about adobe derived products and releases is what I need to clarify too. We often use software like boardmaker which costs about half a thousand. Are we allowed to only share files in boardmaker format or are we allowed to also share them on pdf format?
    It would be worse for the boardmaker company if we share them on pdf format as people can reproduce the pictures without buying the software. However, if we share in boardmaker format, they will have to first buy the software before they can then access the content of the file.

    Not sure if i am describing it clear enough, but from a user point of view, of course I prefer pdf but boardmaker and the creators of boardmaker software will think otherwise. It is not like they are making a lot of money.

    Will you please kindly keep me in the loop for the next CC Salon? I think my husband is interested too, he's in the hackerspace google group.

    Thank you so much.

    Yi Lin

  2. Hi Yi Lin! I'll forward your question to the lawyer in our group, and see what's his take on it (his personal take, that is... we're all strictly volunteers). BTW, you are welcome to join the Creative Commons googlegroup. That's where I'll post the question. And that's where we announce the CC Salons. Cheers.


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