A Developing Story: Creative Commons and international development

I’ve spent a significant part of the last month-and-a-half designing and building adevelopingstory.org, a not-for-profit site which aggregates multimedia about international development and the developing world.

The site aggregates a wide range of material from professionally produced campaign work, to user-generated Flickr photosets, podcasts and written testimony, hopefully bringing these stories to new audiences as well as creating, over time, a categorised archive for those working in international development to use as a point of reference.

The site was developed with my two cofounders Phil and Benjamin, both ex-BBC producers who have worked in international development. Phil is currently CEO of the Sony-award winning Prison Radio Association, Benjamin is a lecturer and one half of the Duck Rabbit production team.

We also have a campaigning aim. So, while we believe that there’s clear value in bringing together this public-facing, awareness-raising communication material, we also want to do something similar for international development communications that are used ‘in the field’ – e.g. radio scripts, posters, mobile text messaging campaigns, etc.

Unfortunately, almost none of this material is available in the public domain. And that’s what we want to change.

We believe that all Government funded international development communications should be available in a central, easily accessible database under Creative Commons licenses. A database where photographs, posters, scripts, public information leaflets, etc, can be downloaded, copied, translated and adapted for local audiences, saving practitioners time and money and therefore ultimately saving lives.

In an age where we recycle many of our physical objects, it seems strange that most of the international development communications work funded by Governments, IGOs and even NGOs is completely lost after the short campaigns they promote.

We believe that a few simple changes will have real and immediate impact on the way the international development community communicates. All it really requires is a change of attitude from Government, a simple addition to all relevant contracts which obliges the supplier to make any communications work they produce as part of a funded project, e.g. photos, text, video, available under an appropriate Creative Commons license on a central database.

But that’s a little in the future. For the moment, we’re focused on improving A Developing Story. So, if you’ve got some interesting content about international development you think we should feature, you can send it to us here. If you want to contribute on a more regular basis, then you can join us here.

Finally, the site’s a ‘bit Beta’ at the moment, so any feedback on bugs or suggested improvements is very welcome.

Now, I’m off to find a new contract, so I can keep paying the mortgage.

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