Seeing Pieces of Myself in Surprising Places

I use Creative Commons on faith. It has been a part of my creative professional toolbox since I was 15 and spent the summer interning at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I have argued for everyone from anti-trafficking organizations to major research universities to use it is as their standard rather than All Rights Reserved, and made those arguments standing on my unshakable faith that a shared culture is a richer culture.

I have nearly never seen anything tangible come back from it. I release me papers, my code, my photos, my designs, my entire blog freely into the world, and more often than not, it gets me digital shoulder pats from fellow copyleft nerds, but not much else.

And I love it. I love the feeling I am giving freely of myself. I love living out my commitment to act as if my creative well will never run dry and that I do not need to hoard to keep myself alive. I love that part of open source culture and I love that part of being a digital citizen.

When I get tagged in tweets like this, I nearly do not know how to react:

Here’s that photo, Creative Commons licensed by Jeremy Ey:
Notable Women in Computing

This photo means something incredible. Someone I have never met, who has poster-posting privileges in Bruner Hall at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, TN went to a website I built, downloaded a file I designed full of cards I designed, printed it, and posted it. He or she or xe never had to ping me about it, didn’t have to pay me or anyone else, just downloaded, printed, and left this declaration of technical women’s contributions where hundreds of technical students might see it.

Thinking through what that would have taken before the internet boggles the mind a bit. They would have had to know someone who knew about our poster project; called me or sent me a letter. I would have had to send them a physical copy of the poster, with no real way to send them my design file. Did people send files like this on microfiche before thumb drives? I have no idea, but the logistics of communication are wildly different without the internet.

I both want to know who posted the poster and do not want to know. I want to know because they are a person who experiences fellow feeling with women in computing, and that is my kind of person. I do not want to know, because I get such sheer joy out of the idea that a person I have never and will never meet found value in something I made.

Inspirational Quote:

“In true love the smallest distance is too great, and the greatest distance can be bridged.”–Hans Nouwens

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