The word “commons” engenders co-operation, communication, working with other’s priorities in mind, and, most importantly an underlying understanding. The creative commons project started by Microsoft slayer Professor Lawrence Lessig is an ideal whereby everyone shares in a copyright. Anyone can build upon creative commons and use it, but you cannot try to remove it from the public domain. In the world of software, sharing and building software in “common” requires at least a basic level of technical know-how. It is obviously easier to buy a computer program or DVD off the shelf than learn how to use these technologies in a more altruistic manner.
To make software palpable to the masses, companies like Microsoft make the programs very easy to use and bundle them with hundreds of features. Although it might be more efficient for the user to tailor the software to only use the features the user needs, individually tailoring hundreds of features for millions of users is not more efficient for Microsoft. What would be efficient would be for the user to tailor the software. If the user were willing to take this initiative, the user would be able to use hundreds of free programs in the creative commons, and tailor these programs for their most efficient use.
Most importantly, the user could improve the program and add the improvements to the creative commons. If millions of users all joined forces, the software options would be virtually unlimited. Unfortunately, this would require the user to understand at least the most rudimentary basis of software. Most consumers would rather pay hundreds of dollars for software than spend a few hours learning how to adapt free software in the creative commons to do the same thing. Not only are these people hurting themselves, but they drain valuable traction from the creative commons by eliminating their input from the process.
In an effort to make it easier for people to add to the creative commons, unlikely bedmates, Microsoft and Lawrence Lessig have teamed up. The two are supporting a Microsoft software program you can use to add a creative commons license to your Microsoft Office documents. Do your part. Learn enough to contribute the creative commons. The world will be a better place.