What’s on your calendar for Saturday, October 23? Nothing or something boring? Great, then be sure to come to ictQATAR’s and Creative Commons’ Digitally Open: Innovation and Open Access Forum. And don’t just come because I am telling you to, come because it is going to be a really cool event, with speakers from Google, Mozilla, Creative Commons, the Museum Authority, QSTP, Red Hat and more.
This event came about because of two things. 1. my boss’s passion for open source and 2. a Digital Qatar blog post. If you recall, I posted in the past about how great I thought it would be to adopt Creative Commons licenses in Qatar. Well that led to a meeting with Creative Commons which has now grown into this great partnership on the event. And the forum on the 23rd is only part of it. On Sunday, October 24 there will be meeting with Creative Commons and key digital content players in Qatar to begin work on porting Creative Commons licenses to this country. A huge step!
So why is “open” so important? Open is important because it means you can share ideas, mix, build and innovate. It means no longer being shut out by unnecessary patents that can slow progress. And it applies to everything –music, science, technology, art, government, medicine – pretty much anything. There are people that say there would be a cure for cancer now if the health research field would just share data openly. And in government, how many “small” problems could be fixed if you could empower a network of developers to address them? And of course we have seen the creativity that can happen when a DJ is allowed to remix a classic song.
I also think openness in the digital realm could have profound impact in the Arab world – especially among youth. What better way to share your voice than through the Internet and let other people spread your voice (with attribution). Your voice may be expressed through a graphic design, a song, a poem, research on a topic of interest or a blog post. Translation of a text into Arabic would also be easier if there was more content available under Creative Commons’ licenses – translation is considered alteration.
So join me in embracing – and encouraging others to embrace – a digitally open world. The Digitally Open event is an important start to creating a culture of digital openness in Qatar and the region, but its success depends on the actions of those in attendance after the event is over. It’s all on us!