Last week (yes, I realize that a week to blog about an event is unforgivably bad in our modern networked world), I went to the Creative Commons Salon in San Francisco with Santi. I had been in the city most of the day at the Web 2.0 Expo but stayed for the CC event. It was only my second CC Salon and I was interested to hear more about what was happening in the distributive licensing crowd.
I have been reading Yochai Benkler’s Wealth of Networks. In it, Benkler brings forth many distinctions, and two that showed up for me at the Salon were accreditation and filtration. For me, filtration is the practice of assessing what is useful for your concerns in the information available. Accreditation is the practice of assessing the “quality” or “credibility” of the information. Benkler claimed that when the Internet began, some people proposed that the massive amounts of information would overwhelm the users and they would not be able to assess the information they receive and take action from it. But, as Benkler tells, the practices of filtration and accreditation emerged in a decentralized fashion alongside the Internet.
The distinctions that I got from Benkler were able to orient me to what the presentors spoke about, not just as single events, but as moments of the pattern that Benkler distinguished. Technorati’s WTF was not just a tool for users to rate the blogs but was an instance of filtration for relevance in a decentralized manner. Swivel wasn’t just a site that would store data and facilitate its mash-up, it was a site that could become a power accreditation tool for journalists or social organizations interested in telling a story. SpinXpress was the power of decentralized and collaborative culture-building at work.
As the CC Salon unfolded, I was repeatedly triggered and shaped by Benkler’s distinctions in such a way that I saw beauty and power for the whole Commons in each small new “tool” or “feature” that each group was bringing. It was an experience in which I found wonder in the small events. Very nice.