You may have noticed the small icon at the bottom right side of the window stating that some rights are reserved under a creative commons license. Creative commons is a little hard to explain. It essentially is a set of free licenses that can be used by the authors of a work to permit reuse of their work under certain conditions.
The following is taken from the Main Creative Commons site.
Creative Commons is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright.
We provide free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof.
The licenses appear to be country-specific. Here is a link to the Canadian Creative Commons site. The real appeal of these licenses appears to be their simplicity. The license that would perhaps be the most applicable to academics is the version which allows reuse providing that the original author is attributed.
In a previous blog entry I lamented about the lack of peer review capacity in the blog world. Because blogging is not presently peer reviewed, it has little value from a tenure and promotion standpoint. I refer the reader to this article by Amardeep Singh in 2007.
All university faculty are familiar with the pressure to publish their scholarly work. As the saying goes, "publish or perish." The gold standard of publications is the peer reviewed article. My question is this: who are the peers? Traditionally, the peers have been other scientists. Can the public act as our peers when it comes to evaluating our scholarly work? They are the ones paying our salaries. Would this increase our accountability to the public.
The mechanism for this public assessment would be a simple yeah or nay. Just as Cesar would give a thumbs up or down to determine the fate of a fallen gladiator. The public would express their opinion through a simple positive or negative assessment (plus or minus comments). The best real world example of this is the digg.com website.