Back when I was experimenting with the Gift Economy last year, I’d planned licensing all my work under Creative Commons. Then, as I gave up on the gift business model, that plan just kinda fell by the wayside.
The other day, however, when I stumbled across George Kao’s website, and saw his declaration of uncopyright, I knew it was time for me to break free from the traditional intellectual property ecosystem as well.
So here we are. All the writing on this website now lives under a CC BY 4.0 license. You can re-distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon my work in any way you want, even for commercial purposes. All I ask is that you give credit and link back.
I was considering going all the way, and not even requiring attribution. But it led to a giant knot in my stomach, and all sorts of feelings of insecurity. Maybe it’s just my ego, or some deep-seated desire to be recognized for my work. And maybe I shouldn’t feel that way. But today, I wasn’t comfortable crossing that line.
Still though, this is a good first step in breaking down barriers and defaulting to generosity.
A few thoughts on why this is the right move for Ungated
My aim with Ungated isn’t just to build a nice little business for myself. It’s to create a new philosophy that slowly seeps into the culture of online business and marketing. That’s why I want these ideas to spread as far and wide as possible, and to be expressed from different perspectives and across different mediums. That’s how we plant seeds for wider cultural change.
I’m also intrigued to see what’ll happen when other creators have explicit permission to remix and build upon my work. Because I don’t assume anything I publish here is necessarily true or correct or universally applicable. I’m just some opinionated guy on the internet (who’s not an expert). What works for me, might not work for others. And that’s ok!
That’s why I want people to build on, converse with, or even outright refute the things I write. That’s how we collectively move towards deeper understanding of complex topics. Not by putting up walls and being hyper-protective of our ideas, but by being in conversation with each other, and seeing what emerges from the synthesis between us.
Lastly, I think a lot about how we can bridge the trust gaps on the internet, and in the wider world. Lack of trust is at the root of many of our worst instincts and behaviors. As far as I know, the only way to restore trust is to take leaps of faith, and put your trust in others first.
Waiving my copyright feels like just such a leap of faith. It’s entirely possible people will use my work in ways I find distasteful or that I disagree with. It’s possible someone will build a lookalike site to Ungated, full of ads for boner pills.
But unless I’m willing to open myself up to those potential downsides, the upsides can’t occur either. So it's time to jump in, and trust that good things will happen.