Libre learning

Libre knowledge

Libre Knowledge is knowledge which may be acquired, interpreted and applied freely, it can be re-formulated according to one's needs, and shared with others for community benefit.

The term refers to the cultural movement of Free/Libre knowledge inspired by the principles of free software, the success of peer production in the development of free software (and Wikipedia) and a conviction that knowledge should be accessible and sharable without restrictions.

Libre (or Free) Knowledge

Advocates of libre knowledge (aka free knowledge) believe that the freedom of knowledge is under threat on account of attempts to restrict or control sharing of information (or explicit knowledge) on the Internet. For this reason, a definition of libre knowledge was formulated based on the definition of free software by the Free Software Foundation which shares this concern:

Libre Knowledge is explicit knowledge released in such a way that users are free to read, listen to, watch, or otherwise experience it; to learn from or with it; to copy, adapt and use it for any purpose; and to share derived works similarly (as free knowledge) for the common good.

Users of libre knowledge are free to

(0) use the work for any purpose

(1) study its mechanisms, to be able to modify and adapt it to their own needs

(2) make and distribute copies, in whole or in part

(3) enhance and/or extend the work and share the result.

Freedoms 1 and 3 require Free file formats and free software as defined by the Free Software Foundation

Libre Resources

The term "libre resources" refers to resources represented on a device or medium such as files in an open/free format containing text, an image, sound, multimedia, etc. or combinations of these, accessible with free software, and released under a license which grants users the freedom to access, read, listen to, watch, or otherwise experience the resource; to learn with, copy, perform, adapt and use it for any purpose; and to contribute and share enhancements or derived works.

Such resources are central to movements associated with Free software, free culture, and free knowledge, etc., and are used by libre communities - for example, for learning (see libre learning below).

The libre manifesto indicates some of the values behind such movements.

Use of the term "Libre Resources" emerged from discussions of Free/Libre Knowledge as a generalisation.

Libre Learning

Knowledge and learning go hand-in hand. Libre Learning is (potentially collaborative, social constructionist learning) unfettered by overly restrictive licenses using Libre resources. The term is associated with visions such as "freedom to learn" - liberating education and learning - deemed appropriate in countries where the public educational systems are not able to meet all the needs, encouraging and enabling civil society to take the initiative and augment the puiblic education systems.

See also: Wikiversity.

Historical Notes and References

It may be argued that the concepts of free/libre knowledge and non-free knowledge have been around ever since humans have been capable of communicating. Academic discourse on these concepts is not new, though in recent years the debate has become particularly heated with the advent of the Internet and the ease with which knowledge may be shared.

Below we list some relevant references and additional historical notes:

  • 1954: Mark Van Doren:
  • Freedom Charter - adopted at the Congress of the People, Kliptown, South Africa, on 26 June 1955.
  • 2001 Fle3 announcement - Libre Software for Libre knowledge building
  • 2002: a collection of essays by Richard Stallman was published which captures much of the philosophy of Libre Knowledge albeit in the software sense.
  • Early this century academic publishers started thinking about open access and many have released scientific content under Creative Commons licenses. The Directory of Open Access Journals lists several, though the degrees of freedom vary (many are disseminating Open Knowledge).
  • The free/libre knowledge definition above was inspired by the Free Software definition and by a posting on Jimmy Wales's blog " Free Knowledge requires Free Software and Free File Formats".
  • Lawrence Lessig has published several books which discuss the tension between a desired free, read/write Internet culture and control via technical means. These include Free Culture, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Code: Version 2.0 and The Future of Ideas.
  • 2004 Yochai Benkler published Coase's Penguin introducing a new mode of production for the 21st Century.
  • 2006 Yochai Benkler published The Wealth of Networks which expands on the concept of commons-based peer production.
  • 2007 Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom edited a book called "Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: from theory to practice" which reflects current interest in this phenomenon and some of the history.
  • 2007 Kim Tucker released the Say "Libre" essay clarifying use of this term in preference to "open".

Some of the discussions leading to the emergence of the ideas of "libre resources" (above) and libre communities occurred during workshops in a project originally called "Free Knowledge Communities", and later Libre Communities

The primary concern was the need to provide access to learning resources for the developed world - resources which would inevitably need to be recontextualised and adapted for local use. It would also be beneficial if the recipients of such resources are free to adapt and distribute derived works without restriction.

The intent is to encourage people concerned with open content (etc.) to distinguish "open" from "free/libre", to understand Copyleft, and to license resources accordingly, to enable a "copy-modify, mix and share" (free or "read-write") culture and society. Discussions along these lines may be found in (for example) the forums and at conferences of the Open educational resources communities, discussions about Free software and free culture. These are likely to continue as the GNU General Public License and Creative Commons licenses evolve in response to contemporary issues associated with the freedom of users.

See also

External resources

Organisations Promoting Free/ Libre Knowledge

(implicitly or explicitly)


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