- 1 Nominations to Run for the Board of Directors
- 2 List of Nominees
- 2.1 Donovan, Kevin, Georgetown Free Culture
- 2.2 Ducruet, Christina, Current SFC Board member
- 2.3 Driscoll, Kevin, Current SFC Board member / MIT Free Culture
- 2.4 Higgins, Parker, Free Culture @ NYU
- 2.5 Moskowitz, Ben, SFC@Berkeley
- 2.6 Owens III, Clifford Conley, Free Culture at Virginia Tech
- 2.7 Pavlosky, Nelson, Free Culture George Mason
- 2.8 Phinney, Parker, Dartmouth Free Culture
- 3 Questions, Thoughts, Concerns
- 4 Past Nominations
Nominations to Run for the Board of Directors
According to the Bylaws, nominees for the Board of Directors must either be a current member of an FC chapter or currently serving on the Board.
Reminder, nominations close at Midnight PDT on March 20, 2009.
How to nominate someone
- Contact that person.
- Edit this page and copy-paste the template below.
- Complete the information to reflect your nominee.
What to do if you are nominated
- Wait for your sponsor to add you to this page.
- Update the Bio and Statement sections below your name.
List of Nominees
(in alphabetical order, by last name)
Donovan, Kevin, Georgetown Free Culture
- Nominated by Elizabeth Stark
My name is Kevin Donovan and I'm a sophomore at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. I'm majoring in the long-winded 'Science, Technology and International Affairs' with a focus on technology and development. I am currently working for infoDev, a program of the World Bank that promotes information & communication technology in the developing world.
As a freshman, I founded the Georgetown chapter of Students for Free Culture and have worked on campus and in D.C. to promote our interests. Notable work in the field includes:
- As a result of my advocacy, Georgetown has begun an Open CourseWare initiative that will make a substantial portion of our educational resources freely available online. The goal, that I will be pursuing this summer when I work full-time on the project, will be to go beyond existing demonstrations of OCW and provide substantially richer, specialized content under open licenses.
- I have worked with the D.C.-based Public Knowledge to promote OCW and have formed important ties to the OCW Consortium.
- My location in D.C. has allowed me to take a more active role in policy formulation. I publicly represented SFC at the Department of Commerce's public hearing on the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Further, I led a campaign to encourage Obama to make a sensible pick for the IP Czar.
- I am in the final stages of designing a campaign against the RIAA's goal of circumventing due process by working with ISPs to disconnect accused file sharers.
- With Tim Hwang, I organized the Access to Knowledge panel at Free Culture 2008 and have forged ties with Universities Allied for Essential Medicines.
- I've written extensively about free culture topics in my course work, on my personal blog, and on the popular Techdirt blog.
I think there are three pressing (and interrelated) goals for SFC in the next year:
- Building a successful Open University Campaign
- Structuring SFC to be more action oriented
- Raising SFC's profile
On day 2 of FC08, when the Wheeler Declaration organically came to be, there was an incredible feeling of excitement. Sitting in the unconference, we had developed a platform for Students for Free Culture that would provide a great basis for the immediate future of the organization. Unfortunately, as we dispersed around the globe, progress slowed considerably.
I think it is essential that the Open University Campaign become a success and much of my work as a Board member would be dedicated to assisting chapters with the work needed to promote the campaign on their campus. This would require clear lines of communication so that progress can be known and hints shared widely. This would also require closer collaboration with organizations including ATA, Free Press, Public Knowledge, EFF & New America.
I think this campaign, and quite possible SFC generally, would benefit from increased specialization and accountability. I propose that each of the 5 principles in the Wheeler Declaration have a committee of 3-4 SFC members who would be responsible for developing guidelines and promotional materials for that part of the Open University Campaign. By focusing members who are passionate about specific topics, we can avoid inefficiencies and duplication of efforts. We're nearly 6 months past FC08 and have precious little to show for progress, so by designing a committee structure to develop actual outputs, it will allow chapters to advocate for change on their campus over the coming months.
In time, this structure of volunteer committees could be expanded, allowing member passionate about copyright reform or privacy from, say, Harvard and Berkeley, to connect and work together. We have to remember that SFC is a broad coalition of diversely interested people, so allowing people to work on what they are passionate about will give opportunities for real progress.
Finally, SFC needs to become more "user-friendly" for both members and the public at large. For members, this will mean lowering the barrier to entry - would-be members shouldn't have to learn IRC or WikiMarkup to become productive members. The free culture movement has expanded well beyond free software aficionados who are comfortable with such solutions, but to make SFC an organization welcoming of a new generation of activists, we will need to be accommodating of the less technically-inclined. As for the public, SFC should draft statements on topics about which we care - SFC should be a go-to voice when relevant. For example, for Conyers' bill attacking open access last month, SFC should have done more than have an ephemeral mailing list thread. In time, journalists and policy-makers should come to see SFC as an important voice in issues of digital freedom.
Ducruet, Christina, Current SFC Board member
- Nominated by Kevin Driscoll
I graduated from Brown University in May 2008 with a degree in Modern Culture and Media. While at Brown I founded Brown Free Culture in reaction to the RIAA lawsuits that hit 20+ campuses in Spring 2007. I have been involved with SFC ever since, and have been honored to serve on the SFC Board for the last year. Currently, I live and work in Connecticut.
I am going to keep this brief and will stick to the following points:
1. Students for Free Culture - Now & in the Future 2. Getting down to business 3. I love this organization
1. The most exciting element of my time as a chapter member and board member of SFC has been experiencing our evolution and progress as an organization. Right now, I think we have reached an important moment - we are currently doing our first globally coordinated campaign - and are already witnessing chapters successful in making things happen for the Open University Campaign. With the first successes and this unified vision for what an open university would mean we have a solid foundation for further growth in the future. The areas we still need to work on are new chapter on boarding and chapter support in general - this can be improved with increased communication and better delegation of responsibilities so that we are functioning like the well oiled machine we must be to perpetuate our growth and success.
2. The thing that astounded me about FC2008 was the raw energy and focus of our community. This goes deeper than any campaign - it is what makes a campaign a movement and a force of change. Preserving and promoting the passion and dedication of our community is fundamental to our success now and in the future. This is what gives life to new chapters; it's what changes policies in a school; it's what creates a memorable event or encounter with Free Culture; it's what attracts new members. It doesn't take a chapter of 20 people (although this is fantastic) to make change - it literally takes one person. Keeping this energy alive in every single member should be the number one goal of the board - and everything we do is stuff on the route to that goal. A clear example is ensuring that our annual conference takes place and that we get as many members of SFC there as possible as the opportunity to connect IRL is invaluable to an organization as widely distributed as ours. This year, it took the energy and time of the amazing conf08 team, and it took money, planning, and foresight. Ultimately, the board should manage this business because this means that the focus and energy of our chapters can stay on the issues and causes that define SFC. I am choosing to focus on the unglamorous here because I think it is no small part of the commitment to serve as a board member and it is pivotal to the goal that defines that responsibility - sustaining the energy, commitment, drive that is defining characteristic of SFC and its members.
3. I love SFC and I believe in us. Meeting so many people from this awesome organization at FC2008 filled me with hope and excitement for our future and I want more than ever to contribute to that promise. I feel my experience in the course of the last year as well as my commitment to supporting our endeavors as an organization would add something to the board in 2009. It would be an honor and incredible experience to work with any and all of the other candidates who I think have brought so much to SFC and I would relish the opportunity to do so in the rest of 09!
Driscoll, Kevin, Current SFC Board member / MIT Free Culture
- Nominated by Christina Ducruet
My name is Kevin Driscoll. I'm a graduate student in MIT Free Culture and currently a sitting board member. At the moment, I am finishing a Master's degree in Comparative Media Studies where I focus on issues of freedom and equity in education, hip-hop, and internet cultures. In September, I will be starting a PhD in Communications at USC.
For the three years prior to my return to academia, I taught Mathematics, Computer Science, and Media Literacy at a public charter school in Cambridge. Inspired by the depressing thought of first-year teachers all over the country re-inventing the wheel each night, I co-founded a non-profit organization to encourage the sharing and development of free learning materials.
In addition, I am a hip-hop DJ and exhibiting artist in video, performance, and installation.
I want to encourage greater participation among students from traditionally less-technical fields like the arts, humanities, and social sciences. To this end, I believe we can further refine the process by which new chapters are registered and supported.
Drafting the Wheeler Declaration was a thrilling moment but I wonder how well we maintained the energy I felt in that Berkeley classroom after we all flew home. What could we do in advance of our next meeting to make better use of our time together? In concrete terms, I intend to have a comprehensive report on the status of our various institutions in draft form by the close of our next conference in October.
Finally, I am personally invested in digging deeper into the future of web video. Beyond the technical details of format and license, where is our voice in determining the future of this medium? In what ways do organizations like Google and YouTube fail to meet our expectations for fair use, free speech, stewardship, and access to knowledge?
The YouTomb research project at MIT suggests a model for future activism. By collecting, analyzing, and presenting data in a meaningful way, we can bring transparency to otherwise opaque systems and services that quietly degrade both the commons and public discourse.
I believe that board members can broker relationships among chapters. I am hopeful that my impending move to USC will enable me to better form such connections.
Higgins, Parker, Free Culture @ NYU
- Nominated by Fred Benenson
I am Parker Higgins, a junior at New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Students in that school are required to name and formulate their own "concentrations"; mine, easily as long-winded as Kevin Donovan's, is "Creativity, Freedom of Speech and Intellectual Property." I also work as a research assisstant for Biella Coleman, an NYU anthropologist whose work addresses hackers and free and open source software.
I joined NYU's SFC chapter (Free Culture @ NYU) as a freshman and quickly became involved in the club's activites, which at NYU have included things like anti-DRM rallies, Creative Commons art shows, film screenings and lectures. As Treasurer my sophomore year, I secured for the club an official budget from the university, and braved many layers of bureaucracy to ensure totally official status with the school. Last semester, I studied abroad in Berlin where I got to meet and work with many free culture activists there, including the staff of Creative Commons International, the Berlin Wikipedians, members of the hackerspace c-base and many more. I was also lucky enough to attend the Nordic Cultural Commons Conference and FSCONS in Sweden.
Upon returning to New York this semester I have taken the office of President of FC@NYU, and have begun planning and participating in several major events. Among them, we have been working with other clubs on campus to host a Jaunty Jackalope release party and the first New York screening of "RiP: A Remix Manifesto." I will be spending this summer volunteering for Creative Commons in New York City, working with current SFC board member Fred Benenson.
I also maintain the semi-regularly updated internet TV channels Free Culture TV and Yes, We're Open!, which redistribute openly licensed content that has to do with the free culture movement and not, respectively. Also, follow me @thisisparker.
- Since writing this and before posting it, I've noticed that some of the other candidates have very similar statements, some of which are better presented than I've been able to. I view that as an excellent thing.
I view my goals for SFC as being more or less common to most of our membership. I think, generally, the board should focus on (a) advancing the stature of Students for Free Culture as a national organization and (b) increasing accessibility of current and future chapters. Of course, these two goals are very complementary, far from mutually exclusive, and comprise a great many sub-goals.
Advancing the Stature of Students for Free Culture
Individually, the members of SFC have an incredible amount of social capital. It is ideal for SFC going forward to be able to leverage that capital as an organization, but in order for that to happen we need to improve our collective reputation. This will happen by completing initiated and planned structural changes, and by creating a unified and cohesive set of messages. The most obvious structural change is attaining 501(c)3 status. By the end of this upcoming board term, I view it as absolutely essential that we've either made significant demonstrable progress towards that goal, or have collectively decided not to pursue it. Additionally, I support the creation of board committees tasked with specific goals with deadlines. Such committees--which should be determined shortly after the election but which would likely include a budget group, a long-term planning group, and an administrative group--would increase accountability and productivity of the board. (Witness the effectiveness of the web team, whose work is consistently awesome.)
Increasing Accessibility of Current and Future Chapters
One of the most powerful elements an organization can have to improve its reputation is a large and enthusiastic membership. We can make that happen. We need to make our own propaganda that current and future chapters can grab and print out. Individual chapters are the ones who have to fight for membership, we should make it as easy as possible for them to attract the attention of students who are interested in this. (FC@NYU has a collection of EFF, PK, CC, etc, etc, materials out at every clubfest. It's good to show that we have ties with those groups, but it doesn't say much about our identity.) Is there a place where, for example, the Wheeler Declaration is laid out and formatted nicely with the SFC logo at the top, for display and distribution? If there is, it needs to be more clearly presented. If there isn't, it's an opportunity we're missing to spread our message. These materials should be sent out in care packages and easily found online.
We should have more regular Chapters meetings. Increased inter-chapter communication will make it easier for new chapters to find a network of supportive individuals and for current chapters to coordinate events. Ideally, SFC with our distributed chapters system becomes a candidate for authors on book tours, speakers on a circuit, and documentarians with a new movie to find dozens of locations and interested communities across the country. Perhaps more importantly, such communication would allow for collective action and statements, which can raise our profile. FC@NYU's Regal Theaters boycott and DRM protests generated national press attention and found themselves on BoingBoing and Digg. Should the Wheeler Declaration or its successor have major events or movements associated with it, the actions and SFC itself will both benefit from the attention.
Moskowitz, Ben, SFC@Berkeley
- Nominated by Alex Kozak
While studying Political Science and Critical Theory at UC Berkeley, I co-founded the SFC@Berkeley chapter of Students for Free Culture and helped build important connections between Bay Area public interest groups. I also co-organized the Free Culture 2008 Conference, a two-day event to bring together leading voices in technology policy and campus activism to articulate a national agenda for SFC (videos available here).
In response to a spike in P2P lawsuits on the Berkeley campus, I also created and taught a seminar at Berkeley's iSchool on the cultural dimensions of piracy and convened a lecture series with guests from EFF and Internet Archive. In addition to my work on FC issues, I served as a volunteer teacher at California's San Quentin State Prison, helping prisoners attain high school equivalency certificates.
1. Develop the Open University campaign, culminating in a media unveiling at Free Culture 2009/2010 Conference in Washington, D.C.
2. Improve communications and coordination between chapters
3. Make the organization less intimidating for newcomers
SFC grew from a dedicated corps of hacker-libertarians to a broad movement because of gift from the RIAA: the copyfight. The p2p lawsuits initiated by Big Music have probably attracted more people to our movement than any other single factor.
Today—thanks to our efforts, and also to the basic nature of the internet—the copyfight is winning itself. While there are still huge advances to be made in some areas (fair use exemptions, stopping DMCA abuse), we've hit critical mass. Remix culture is here to stay, and sharing and participating in the formation of culture is now something most of us do without even thinking. That's because some of the basic ideas behind Free Culture—remix, sharing, participation—have percolated into the public consciousness.
This doesn't mean we should abandon the copyfight—we're just now running our victory laps! But to put things in perspective, consider that last year marked the 10th anniversary of the DMCA. To remain fresh and relevant, we'll need to refocus our energies. We'll need to return the organization to something closer to its original mission: ensuring that technology empowers individuals and protecting software freedom. Our mission is to ensure that technology continues to serve the public interest.
The Open University campaign conceived at the FC2008 Conference gives us a great new roadmap. If you haven't familiarized yourself with OU, you should have a look. We now have five pillars for change, and we're focused on where we can be most powerful: the university. Individual chapters can keep on doing what they do best, and the national movement will be energized with a guiding purpose.
One of the ideas behind Open University is that we'll create a set of criteria for judging universities on how open they are, then issue public report cards. These report cards would comprise a comprehensive evaluation of how friendly schools are to F/OSS, how thoroughly they embrace open access publishing, how resistant they are to filtering, etc. I think we should make the OU report cards the central part of our next conference, and that this conference should take place in Washington, D.C. Convening the conference in D.C. will give us a national platform for our message and close proximity to lawmakers.
As a board member I'd build partnerships with FC-friendly organizations operating on the Hill—organizations like New America, Public Knowledge, EFF, UAEM, and the ACLU. We'd see to it that the conference is televised and covered by traditional media, because we can still make believers out of social-justice oriented people who aren't geeks. We'll approach this campaign in the most mainstream and inviting way possible: Open University will be the new public face of SFC. It's important going forward that we see ourselves as a social-justice oriented organization, and not merely advocates for open source software.
If we're successful, the idea of an Open University will percolate into popular consciousness—just like remix culture and participatory media did. Someday, people will come to expect that their universities are open. Harvard already makes its open access policy a point of pride; MIT is sure to follow suit.
With enough lead time and foresight, I'm confident we can pull this off.
The first step is already underway: several chapters have begun the necessary research to create grading guidelines. But we have a long way to go. This project will require a lot of active coordination from the board, and perhaps the energy of a dedicated coordinator. What's less important than how we choose to organize ourselves is that we take initiative. One thing that has become apparent is that talking about how to organize ourselves hasn't gotten us anywhere.
With SFC, less is more. We don't need an elaborate organizational structure. What we need is wide-open channels of communication and medium-term goals. I've laid out a vision to get us going, but I'm interested in hearing your suggestions. What does SFC need to be effective? Let me know what you think! benrito at geemail
Owens III, Clifford Conley, Free Culture at Virginia Tech
- Nominated by Joel Alejandre
When I was born, my mother told the doctors to take me away because she thought I was an alien. Perhaps she was right?
I am a better candidate than my competition. You will be happier if you vote for me.
Pavlosky, Nelson, Free Culture George Mason
- Nominated by himself
Nomination accepted, naturally.
Nelson Pavlosky is an 2nd-year law student at George Mason Law in Arlington, VA. As co-founder of both Students for Free Culture and its first campus chapter, Free Culture Swarthmore, Nelson has been involved in the "free culture" movement since shortly after the term was coined. He made international headlines in 2003 as a plaintiff in OPG v. Diebold, a case which set an important precedent protecting freedom of speech from abuse of copyright law. When he is not engaged in activism, he likes to play guitar, ride his bike, and eat fruit, but not simultaneously. He is currently working on starting an SFC chapter on both the Fairfax and Arlington campuses of George Mason University.
- It should be easy to start and maintain a chapter
- It should be easy to volunteer on the global level
- It should be easy to contact and communicate with all of our chapters and their members
- It should be easy to coordinate campaigns and actions between our chapters
- There should be an employee to ensure reliability and handle grunt work
Goals for activism:
- Affect government policy through the executive, legislative and judicial branches
- Represent our students' perspectives to the off-campus world and the "man on the street"
- Ensure that our campuses are leading the way and setting an example for free culture
Honestly, as the person with the longest experience running Students for Free Culture, I am much more concerned with our internal organization than anything else. My goal is to make Students for Free Culture a sustainable institution which will keep running after I graduate.
Make it easy to start and maintain a chapter
- Care packages should be sent - One SFC tradition has been mailing a package full of propaganda material from friendly organizations to new chapters when they start up, as well as existing chapters at the beginning of each school year. Care packages can help educate the members of the club and provide them with material to use when tabling at an activities fair at the beginning of the year, which is when most chapters get most of their members. It makes our chapters look more organized and gives prospective members stuff to take home with them from the activities fair. I will ensure that care packages happen reliably while I am on the board, and I will make sure a system for sending them out continues after my term ends, hopefully through an employee.
- We should have our own propaganda - Using other organizations' propaganda is nice since we don't have to do any work to create it. However, there is no reason why we shouldn't have our own pamphlets, stickers, buttons etc. I will continue the current board's success with T-shirts and expand it to other SFC goodies. I will personally take responsibility for delivering an up-to-date pamphlet.
- Pre-planned events/actions should be available to kick-start chapters - When you first start a chapter, it can be extremely difficult to figure out what your first few events should be, especially when you are just starting to learn about the movement. In fact, whenever I asked a potential FC activist "why don't you start a chapter" the most common response I heard was "I wouldn't know what to do with it". We can remove some of that doubt and uncertainty by pre-packaging some activities for new chapters so that they can easily execute events without having to brainstorm, design and plan an event themselves. We should do case studies of popular events that have gone well in the past, such as Creative Commons art shows, and provide flyers and other materials to use for the event. Ideally it should be possible to start a chapter as a single person, by leveraging the experience and past labor of existing chapters. I will take responsibility for pre-packaging at least two or three events/actions and include those materials in care packages.
- Chapter webspace should be pre-packaged and well-maintained - Chapters that do not know how to set up a website should be able to simply ask us for one and have one set up for them on a reliable system that gets reliably updated. Local chapter websites tend to suffer from bitrot when the most tech-savvy member graduates, and a global web infrastructure should be easier to collectively maintain. We should be able to provide a blog, wiki, and mailing list to any chapter that wants them, and we should offer other services such as a Yammer replacement / Laconica server once we have the basics down. Our solution should be superior to simply hosting on e.g. Wordpress.com because we can have nice default artwork and plugins pre-installed for them. I will work closely with the Web Team leader to ensure that our webspace is 100% FOSS, 100% up-to-date and 99% reliable (let's be realistic).
Make it easy to volunteer for the global organization
If you are a member of a local chapter and you want to help out other chapters, there is currently no clear way to do so. I would:
- Have regular volunteer meetings / co-working sessions - Whether online or in person our volunteers should get together regularly to work on stuff, and people should be able to get involved by simply showing up. Regional conferences should include volunteer co-working sessions as a major part of the schedule.
- Overhaul the Get Involved page - It should be clear from visiting our website exactly how a person can start a chapter, and how they can get involved with Students for Free Culture in other ways. The current page is a generic "how to get involved with the free culture movement" rather than a primer on getting involved with SFC.
- Ask people about their skills and interests when they join the organization - When people start a chapter or register on our website, they should tell us if they are good at graphic design, computer programming etc. and we should be able to contact them for help when we need them. Creating a social network by e.g. installing BuddyPress might be a good way to do this.
I will write further about my platform in the future (I have to go to bed now).
Phinney, Parker, Dartmouth Free Culture
- Nominated by Elizabeth Stark
I'm really quite nice, once you get to know me.
I'm hereby removing myself from the list of nominees for the upcoming board election. It was an honor to be nominated, but I've decided that it would be most beneficial to the org as a whole for me to focus my efforts for the next year on organizing and leading the web team, as well as building a strong chapter at Dartmouth. I am the youngest of the nominees and still have plenty of time to serve on the Board. In fact, it's very likely that I'll run next year. And I know that the org will remain in good hands--I can confidently endorse each of the current nominees. Leadership and volunteer hours are dearly needed on the web team (which is not to belittle the contributions of any members--the few of us can only do so much), and Dartmouth Free Culture needs a great deal of work before it can become a strong, self-sustaining chapter. As the current web team leader, I hope to spend the next year working closely with the next Board to provide web services that will help the org to coordinate action at both the global and local levels.
Questions, Thoughts, Concerns
This is a space for any FC member to post thoughts to provoke and guide the statements of board nominees.
- How will can we improve communication among the various chapters?
- What is something specific we can do to better support and encourage new chapters?
- How can we improve our current tools?
- What progress will you make on the Open University campaign?