Daily Thoughts 187: Create, Share, Repeat

I’ve spent time this morning working on Drive-By Stories. While I’ve been working on it, I’ve also had Return of the Jedi playing. My son came in to watch the final part of the movie. I’d be more productive, perhaps, without the movie playing but since I was mostly tweaking small elements it was fine. Earlier, I watched videos about JavaScript and then set up some of the random elements in the site. Now it shows more adjectives and also sets the month and year based on the time.

Create, Share, Repeat

Drive-By Stories is a good example of the Create, Share, Repeat approach that I’ve written about before. It’s part of the attitude that attracted me to the Creative Commons. And to libraries. I want to share my work. I also want to make it possible for people to support my work if they want. It’s all a work in progress.

Screen capture of Drive-By Stories
Drive-By Stories today with new random features

Next up for the site? A randomly selected story on the main page and random story titles in the title list based on the site structure rather than hard-coded links. I also need to work on the stories index so that it’s dynamically generated. And I want to be able to sort and filter the list. More things to learn!

July Planning

Picture of July calendar featuring Electric Angel by Matt DixonI’ve always liked July. I turn another year older this month. Most likely that means more gray hairs. I’m having fun doing things that I haven’t had time to do lately. I’ve been so busy that I forgot to change my calendar over to July until today! I have two calendars, both created by the talented Matt Dixon. This month the calendar at home features “Electric Angel.” I haven’t turned the page on the robot calendar at work. I’ll do that when I go back to work on the 5th!

My plans for July?

I want to get more stories up on Drive-By Stories. I need to get my ePortfolio site up for my MLIS and spend more time working on that before the semester officially starts next month. It won’t be publically available, at least not during the semester. Later on, perhaps. I’m also toying with the idea of writing a companion book about the process.

I’m focusing on drawing and illustration this month. I may share some examples as the month goes along. That, and I want to spend more time working on my Massive Reboot. The Trello board is accessible for anyone that wants to follow along.

Other than that, I plan to study, learn, code, play, and otherwise enjoy the month!


Creative Commons License
This blog post by Ryan M. Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Daily Thoughts 158: Where did I park my rocketship?

I’m sure I left my rocketship around here somewhere. I need to find it. Have you seen it? Tall, slender, and shiny orange with black accents. It’s called the Bradbury. After I made my first replicator I was able to design better parts to make a new replicator and that one produced the rocketship. Sort of like a 3D printer, only better? Anyway, you might not see my rocketship right away. It’s the quantum invisibility field, you see? Well, you don’t, I know. Neither do I. If I could find it, I could deactivate the field with a touch.

You know what’s worse? I put my replicator on board rather than making a new one. Now I don’t know what I’m going to do.

Developing Next Steps

If only I did have a rocketship. That would be amazing! I’m always envious of the shuttles, roundabouts, and personal space yachts that make it easy for characters to jaunt off to another planet or moon. Well, not jaunt, but they can make those trips so easily. Jump in and fly up into the sky, get where you’re going a short time later. I’d love to head off and visit the planetary bodies in our solar system. Do some fossil hunting on Mars and Venus to see if complex life developed before the planets became inhospitable. Take a trip to Europa and see what might be swimming around beneath the ice. Sounds like fun! As long as it turned out I wasn’t in the Alien universe. I don’t fancy face hugs.

The only rocketship I do have is my imagination. I’m working on putting that to work. I have the challenges that I already defined to think about. The massive reboot, but that’s not the next thing. I want to write stories and post those regularly, I know that much. Obviously, I need to work on my drawing. That’s key. I can’t do the reboot I imagine unless I level up my illustration skills.

I also have several library-related projects to tackle. Some involve coding, which means more learning. Likewise, I want to do different things with my websites. I’m still working all that out as well but it’s a big project that involves everything that I do online. I’ll start small.

Creative Commons Thoughts

Cover artHere’s where I’m at right now.

I finished reading Made With Creative Commons. I just started listening to Free: the Future of a Radical Price. I’ve read a number of other articles about CC licenses and I’ve looked at what other writers are doing in this area.

Each writer tends to have their own reasons for using CC licenses—or for not using CC licenses. Many fiction writers and artists may be put off by the ‘no take-backs’ aspect of the license. Once under a CC license, you can’t turn around and remove it and tell people they can’t share under the original license. People also seem concerned about the commercial use licenses, releasing titles with a CC-BY-NC or CC BY-NC-SA license. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with those licenses. That’s certainly a choice to consider.

Commercial vs. Non-Commercial?

The “BY” part of the license means that attribution is required if someone redistributes, remixes, creates derivatives or otherwise uses your work. They need to give you credit. A Non-Commercial (NC) license means they can only do so if they aren’t making money off of your work, and a Commercial license (no NC) allows those using your work to make money off of whatever use they make of it.

Let’s use the example of an author who releases a fantasy trilogy under a CC license. If the author used an NC license someone else could redistribute copies, remix or write new stories based off of your work—but they couldn’t make money off whatever they created and they would have to give you credit. CC license or not, this is what you see in fan fiction. Fans create other work based off an author’s work and share it with each other. The difference is that the CC license requires that attribution, while allowing fans to feel okay with engaging in normal fan behavior.

What does this do for the author? Many things. If people enjoy the author’s work, the sharing, remixing, and engagement builds a steady fan base. Some writers, musicians, and arts have seen success using this model. Folks like Amanda Palmer or Cory Doctorow have seen it work well. Doctorow has shared copies in other formats on his own site. So someone takes the ePub of a book and creates a copy in a LIT format, for instance. Treating fans as friends rather than thieves tends to work better.

Okay, so why allow commercial use?

For many people, this is trickier. Someone could take work that allowed commercial use to repackage it, alter it, create derivative works, and make money off it without paying the author. Say a filmmaker wanted to make a movie based on the writer’s fantasy series. Under a CC BY license, they could do so and it could become a hit blockbuster and the author would never see a dime (although that can also happen with contracts and creative accounting). Someone could take the work and do something the writer objected to, editing or changing the work, and sell copies of the modified book. With a CC BY-NC license, they wouldn’t have the economic incentive to create such works.

So the issue is that the writer feels they’ve been taken advantage of by not sharing in the revenue from these other projects.

On top of that, the creator of the new work would own the rights to that new work and that introduces new complexity. Say someone wrote a prequel to the writer’s fantasy series. Later the writer writes their own prequel and the publisher of the derivative prequel sues the writer for copyright infringement, claiming that the writer borrowed elements from the derivative work. Far-fetched? Maybe, but a lawsuit could make a mess for the writer in any case.

There’s another license to consider.


The BY-SA or BY-NC-SA licenses require that any copies distributed, or any derivative works distributed, must do so under the same license as the source material.

This changes the game somewhat.

Now if someone made a movie based on the book, the movie must be distributed under the same license as the book. Which means that the freedoms protected spread to any other versions or derivative works created. And anything created based on those also inherits the license, and so on.

Dawn of an Ecosystem

With the addition of a sharealike license, commercial use allowed, an ecosystem is created. The writer might have created the universe, but now others can create new works within the universe and benefit economically from their work.

Nothing prevents the original writer from benefiting either. They could still sell print copies, for instance. Or create a crowd-funding environment in which the fan base pays for each new book the original writer contributes to the growing community.

That’s what I’m looking at by using the CC BY-SA license. I’m starting with some of my stories, and I plan to branch out. I’ll explore different ways of making money. After all, making money helps support creating new material!

This is going to be fun.

Creative Commons License
This blog post by Ryan M. Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Daily Thoughts 140: Creative Commons

Lately, I’ve been thinking about Creative Commons Licenses.

Creative Commons helps you legally share your knowledge and creativity to build a more equitable, accessible, and innovative world.

Cover art for bookA new book comes out May 5thMade With Creative Commons by Sarah Hinchliff Pearson and Paul Stacey. I didn’t know about the Kickstarter project but the book release (a printed book) comes at an opportune time. I’ve been aware of CC licenses for a long time. I’m familiar with Cory Doctorow’s work in this area. As a librarian, I see tremendous value in the power of sharing. It’s interesting and I can’t wait to read the book. I’m figuring out exactly how using CC licenses for my works in my massive reboot will work.

Along with ideas from Kevin Kelly’s book The Inevitable, I’m going back to some of the ideas that I had at the beginning of my writing effort. Doctorow was one of those writers that inspired me in the beginning of my work as an indie writer. My focus and interests have shifted over time.

Why Use Creative Commons?

It’s an interesting question, justifying sharing. “It’s simply not what one does.”

Sharing often ends up equated with piracy. “Argh, ya mateys, you’ve drawn yer last breath fer sure!”

I don’t know how “piracy” ended up associated with unauthorized copying of intellectual property. It seems an odd word to use. In any case, Creative Commons licenses help creators to provide sane licensing terms to their work. Sane, because copyright laws as they currently exist serve as a weapon against both creators and the public alike. Laws mandate severe penalties and have become so complex that the average person easily runs afoul of the law without realizing it. Creators sign contracts with enormous media corporations with armies of lawyers crafting contracts that strip creators of rights. Copyright laws have extended the duration beyond all reasonable expectations.

When it comes down to it, though, it’s less about all of the issues around copyright and is really just about sharing. That’s something librarians do. People do. I tell you about a book I read and offer to loan you my copy. Or you hear about an author and go to the library to borrow a copy. Ideally, the library would have any book you want. Often they do or are able to obtain it by borrowing a copy for you from another library.

Why wouldn’t you want to share? Typically, because you want to make money. Imagine this conversation.

A friend of yours claps you on the back. "I finished the book! I'm really excited about it! I can't wait for you to read it!"

"You finished! Congratulations! I'd love to read it."

"Thank you, that'd be great. Ten bucks."

Your drink goes down wrong. You clear your throat. "Excuse me?"

Unlikely? Maybe, but that’s essentially the way it goes sometimes. I’d rather a different conversation.

You sit down next to your friend and lift a finger to get the bartender's attention.

"You read it?"

You struggle to keep the grin off your face and give up. "It was great. Congratulations, it was fantastic. Really, well done."

"Thanks! I wasn't sure, you know?"

"Drinks are on me tonight, to say thank you for letting me read it. I'm going to tell everyone about it. How did you come up with it? You have to tell me all about it."

I’m happy to pay authors for their work. I’ll buy favorite books in multiple formats. I recommend books I enjoy to others. People want to support creators. The easier you make it, the more likely they are to support your work. That’s what I want to do. I want you to be able to enjoy my work, to share, and to support my efforts if you’re able. I’m still figuring out how that will look, but it’ll be part of my massive reboot.

Creative Commons License
This post by Ryan M. Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.