One of the things I said just recently, in the Unlocking IP Conference at UNSW, was that one issue for Creative Commons, in seeking acceptability for use in the public sector, is the rhetoric. I argued that sometimes, in their eagerness to convince ‘the masses’, Creative commons mateiral has a tendency towards rhetorical excess and a ‘boosterism’ that isn’t a comfortable fit with either the public sector, or, indeed, with Australian culture more generally.

I wonder if other people agree with this point? I can’t help but think the more rhetorical and ideological Creative Commons is, the more that putting a Creative Commons button on your material becomes a political act, and an act that indicates some ‘allegiance’ with a particular cultural or political view. The implication is that the political or rhetorical statements of Creative commons have the potential, at least, to alienate at least some potential allies.

Now, it may be that I’m wrong on this: according to Neale Hooper from the Queensland government, for example, acceptance levels within the public sector are high. The Common Information Environment report, too, seems to indicate a high level of acceptance in the public sector bodies in the UK.

So maybe it’s a non-issue. On the other hand:

  • according to Andres Guadamuz’ presentation at Unlocking IP, the issue of a distinction between the ‘cultural’ versus the ‘license geek’ wings of Creative Commons was in evidence at the recent iCommons summit;
  • The Common Information Environment report is, again according to Andres, sitting on a shelf in the UK, going nowhere fast.

And then there’s this post from Lillian Edwards, which makes a similar point to the one I’ve been trying to make, albeit a little more eloquently. Lillian Edwards is making here a point about why ‘digital rights activism’, as embodied in people like Cory Doctorow or Lawrence Lessig isn’t much in evidence in the UK, despite a strong open source community and a long history of association with freedom of speech:

‘I think the problem is that we Brits just can’t make grand statements with a straight face the way the Americans can. We haven’t got the evangelical upbringing, the oral rhetoric of US culture. We’re far less likely to be found saying things like “Digital rights are essential if we are to avoid being the DRM-ed slaves of the next Microserf generation” and more “That last episode of Dr Who last night was good wasn’t it? Now, how about a cuppa, and er, about this ID cards business..”‘

Food for thought.