Friday, January 15, 2016

Open Fiction

I have been writing and self-publishing fictions with open license for the last few years without least care to what have been happening in the realm of fiction writing, purely based on philanthropic concerns. I used to add the genre as 'open fiction'.  Then, a few months back, quite accidentally, I happened to read a blog by Joschua Fink, a student of screen-writing at the German Film- and Television Academy Berlin, titled "Why we all write Science Fiction- A short overview about all open source novels ever written." In the blog he wrote that there are novels published under creative commons license, but almost all of them  disallow either modification or commercial use, which are both integral freedoms in the Definition of Free Cultural Works. He continued “If we sort them out, what remains left to be called open source? Just very few. Few enough to count them with the digits of a single hand”. He lists four writers and one among them is myself (with Imanofutu). Others are Juan Julián Merelo Guervós (with Hoborg), Cheryl Ives (with Timeless) and Ryan Somma (with

The above interesting observation triggered my curiosity to learn more about open source novels and the more wider spectrum, which I would like to name as 'Open Fiction'. I searched wikipedia. Wikipedia's Creative Commons-licensed novels category shows the details of 23 books. Yes, Joschua Fink is right, most of them carry non-commercial licenses. He seemed to have painstakingly gone through those catalogues.

However, I would say, the sharing of fictions with  restrictive clauses also contribute towards ensuring inclusiveness with respect to the access to literature. Therefore such services are also remarkable. Like in the case of Open Educational Resources, let us say, CC-BY-SA would remain the most appreciated license, whereas other variants will also contribute towards building an open fiction ecosystem.

There are also great projects that obtain open licenses for fictions from the copy-right holders and release it in public domain. Project Gutenberg is an ideal example. Project Gutenberg is the oldest e-book project started by Michael Hart, a student at the University of Illinois, in 1971 with the digitization of the United States Declaration of Independence. It has over 50000 books in its collection now. Of course, the situation is different from the authors themselves release their works with open license.

Now yet another area of debate could be about the purpose of Open Fiction. Do the society has a grave requirement for open fictions as in the case of Open Educational Resources? I would say a very loud 'YES'. The topmost reason is the inclusiveness in the case of access to literature. Secondly, there are a lot of themes in fictions that handle social and scientific matters. If all freedoms are provided for re-purposing and redistributing such works, further creativity will be added on it to make it progressively contributive to the evolving social and scientific scenarios for the benefit of all. For instance, in the case of Imanofutu, I decided to release it open chiefly because it imagines and examines  the possibilities of adaptation for living in the coming centuries.

Of course, this matter needs to be debated further.


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