A few years ago, the Cape Town Open Education Declaration came out. It seems almost ho-hum to read it now in late 2011, but back in September 2007, having a group of educators - not just hackers who were already immersed in FOSS culture, teachers and administrators and government officials - come together, not in the US or Europe where FOSS is most prevalent, but in South Africa - and declare that open education content, hardware, and software were vital to the future... that was pretty big stuff.

Of course, there were spoofs (this one by David Berry) criticizing the declaration for encouraging Large Evil Capitalist Machines to Exploit The Light Of Free Knowledge. However, I agree with David Wiley's response (also read SJ's reply). To make something "free," it's got to be free to all - including corporations and those seeking profit. As long as the knowledge itself is out there, it's up to anyone who wants to do something with them - because while ideas do change the world, they do so through the actions they inspire, empower, and inform.

I bring this up again today for two reasons:

  1. On the "Exploit The Light Of Free Knowledge!" front, I've spent more time than I'd like recently explaining things like NonCommercial Clause Considered Harmful to people. I know it's scary, but when you commit to going open, you won't get all the benefits unless you go all the way.
  2. Sometimes, when we're staring seemingly impossible problems in the face, it's nice to be reminded that we have changed the world, and much faster than anyone ever expected. We've changed it so quickly and so much, in fact, that oftentimes we forget we've changed it at all.