Creative Commons – Keeping it Open

Here in Great Britain in the 18th century there was a need to protect authors and artists, and publishers, from blatant copying of material by the new technology of the printing press. Our solution was to create a set of measures that form the basis of what we know today as copyright. Other nations followed and eventually we had a near global system of control.

Most of us see the copyright symbol - © – hundreds of times every day, it’s ubiquitous. Understanding of and regard for it is a different matter, people pay varying degrees of attention to it.

I’m comfortable with the concept of protecting people’s income for original work, but I don’t regard my writing on this blog as needing that level of protection. It doesn’t cost me very much to publish so I’m not seeking to protect a high level of investment either. Fortunately, there is an alternative to copyright.

Creative Commons Licensing

If you look to the bottom of this page you will find a section that currently looks like this:

Creative Commons License

This is the license I have chosen for these meagre ramblings. If you click on the link it will take you to a page that explains the license in a human-readable summary format. This explanation shows in broad terms what I am happy for you to do with the information you find contained within and in what context.

Copyright© is basically either all rights reserved or public domain. Creative Commons, however, comes with a set of options. In my case the options roughly translate to:

  • You are free to:
    • Share the material
    • Adapt the material
  • On the condition that:
    • You give me credit
    • It’s for non-commercial purposes
    • You share under the same license as the original if you remix, transform or build upon the material

To put it another way. I’m happy for you to use the material, to share it and even adapt it, but I don’t see why you should make money out of my efforts and hence ask you to share your work under the same licence. Also, it would be good if you gave me some form of credit for the work you have used.

Each of these options can be made either more, or less, restrictive.

I tend to think that it’s better to be open than closed and that is what Create Commons allows me to be, without giving everything away. If I was really being open I would allow Commercial work also, which is something I am thinking about, at Creative Commons they call this Free Cultural Works.

The concept of open is a powerful one and gaining traction all the time, but that’s probably best covered wider on another day.

Creative Commons is integrated into a number of other services.  If you want to search in Google, for instance, for material released under creative commons then you can do so in Advance Search. The same is true on Flickr so I also post my pictures under Creative Commons.

Gaddings Dam

Is my job going to be computerised?

One of the questions I’ve been pondering during my work on the Productive Workplace has been the question of how many job types will still exist in the future with many being wholly or partially automated through computerisation. There’s no point in creating a workplace for an activity that’s been automated after all.

It’s clear that different jobs will be affected in different ways. Some things that humans do today can already be done more effectively by a machine; other things are more of a challenge to the machines.

Carl Frey and Michael Osborne from Oxford University have undertaken a study to try to predict what they impact might be:


(We refer to computerisation as job automation be means of computer-controlled equipment)

In this study they assessed 702 different occupations (in the US) and assigned to them a probability of being computerised. From this they estimated the number of jobs that would be affected by that probability. The headline result was that:

“about 47 percent of total US employment is at risk”.

The probability of computerisation is based on a number of current bottlenecks: perception and manipulation, creative intelligence, social intelligence.

Computerisation Bottlenecks

The higher the need for these skills the less likely it is to be automated. We need to be clear here that a bottleneck is simply that, it constrains entry, it doesn’t eliminate it. The other aspect of bottlenecks is that it’s not permanent and will be eroded over time. Technology is moving forward at a rapid pace and areas currently high in bottlenecks will be affected by other areas where bottlenecks are less impacting.

The results of this assessment for the US population are as follows:

Probability of Computerisation

This is a massive simplification of the work that they have done, but it’s enough to give clear indications of where the impact is heading.

Jerry Bowles has recently published on a utilisation of this study which assessed its impact in European countries (the original was US). This suggests a different impact for different European countries based on the mix of jobs and their susceptibility to computerisation.

As you can see countries in Northern Europe are less susceptible to those in the South because of the mix of jobs.

From a personal perspective, while my actual role isn’t defined in the appendix of the report similar jobs are, and they appear in the low probability section which would align with what I understand. Although, there is much of my current role that will be heavily affected by computerisation.

If you’d like more information you can, of course, read the study, alternatively you might like to watch this:

Sally's Cottages

Productive Workplace: Getting Out of the Office

Recently a holiday cottage company in the English Lake District decided to take their work out of the office, and up a mountain:

We decided to take our business to new heights this week by moving to the top of Blencathra to encourage Brits to get outside this summer.

Our team were fed up with looking at the lovely weather from inside our Keswick building, so we packed up and re-located our office equipment up the 2,850ft-high mountain. Desks, phones, lamps and computers were set up and staff settled in for business as usual.

This got me thinking about the times when we should really get out of the office to do work. When I say office here, I’m meaning the place where you do most of your work, that place that sees most of your time, particularity if most of your time is spent sedentary looking at a screen.

There are huge benefits to being in a different place; there is even more benefit if that different place requires some physical exercise.

A colleague and I occasionally go on walking meetings. These aren’t just wandering around meetings, we go on a walk around a reservoir or up a hill. The flow of blood that the walking creates really helps the mental stimulation and being outside changes the nature of the conversation.

We all recognise the saying:

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

Henry Ford

If you want something different then do something different. If you’re not being productive where you are, you should go somewhere different. Perhaps you should take you’re office up a mountain?


Crummock Water

Productive Workplace: Some Observation

Having finished a set of posts on the Proactive Workplace, based on the future skills that we are likely to need, I thought I would list some of my observations that may not be directly reflected in the other posts:

  • The traditional office is already dying – fewer and fewer people feel the need to go into the office to do their work. They can work where they choose to work. This causes much anxiety in many organisations as they try to work out whether people are really working.
  • Collaborative spaces are increasing in importance – if people are going to meet face-to-face it will be to collaborate. The cost of that collaboration is very high, because it now includes travel, so they want it to be highly productive. The space needs to enable the best possible collaboration.
  • Virtual still isn’t the most productive – people still want to get together to interact; they recognise high performing spaces when they see them. The virtual alternatives are still not intuitive enough to be a full replacement.
  • Flexibility is hugely important – it’s my personal view that most offices are built for the convenient of the people managing them, not for the flexibility of the people using them, but it’s the flexibility that facilitates the productivity. Flexible may be more costly but it’s also massively more valuable.
  • The screen isn’t as important as I think it is – I work on screens, they’re what I look at all day. Many of the workplaces that I have looked at use a diverse set of media – the whiteboard and the post-it note is becoming more important, not less.
  • It’s all changing – what I do today, and how I do it, is going to change. The change may well make me redundant in that activity. Even if it doesn’t make me redundant I’m likely to do it in a different way using different tools which require different spaces.
  • We’re not ready for the change – most of us struggle to cope with amount of information that work creates today, the work of the future is going to require us to behave differently, and we haven’t worked out how yet.
  • Place of flow are going to be a key differentiator - many of the future activities, much like many of today’s,  are going to require deep focus and concentration – flow. Those places are likely to have different characteristics dependent upon the individual. They will be treasured by the individual and fiercely defended. If organisations want people to collaborate they are going to have to provide both collaboration spaces and flow spaces.
  • Meetings are being reshaped – people are using many different techniques to gain value from a meeting. Techniques initially conceived in software development are being adopted across all sorts of fields, the same with techniques created in car design.
  • Networks of people will create the value – the people interacting in a workplace are unlikely to all be employed by the same organisation. Many more people will be sole-traders or acting as part of a network of people. This becomes another driver for workspace flexibility.

Another video on the Future of Work: