Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology released under a Creative Commons license


Yale University Press has graciously agreed to release an online version of my 1998 book, Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology, under a Noncommercial Sharealike Creative Commons license.

The book was the first to show how to use the theory of memes in social and political theory. It argues that we can explain ideology as an effect of cultural evolution; instead of viewing ideologies as overarching worldviews, it argues that we can break them down into component parts and mechanisms.

Yale University Press has released the book as an experiment to see if their backlist of scholarly titles will sell more if more people could sample them for free. If the experiment works, they may consider releasing more of their backlist under a similar arrangement.

Since my book is about the spread of memes, it seemed symbolically the right way to kick off the experiment.

I've put up pdf files of the chapters here. I'm working on ways to upload a wordprocessing version with smaller file sizes and an HTML version in the future. In the meantime, the pdf's are free to download.

If you like it, let other people know. Let the memes spread!


Why NC-SA? If the purpose is to encourage sampling, why not, say, the Sampling or the Sampling Plus license? Similarly, ShareAlike, NonCommercial, or even just a plain Attribution license are plausible alternatives, too. I'm not saying that NC-SA is an inappropriate choice; I'm just curious about the reasoning behind it. It's an important and not well-understood issue how people perceive the license options and select among them.

James makes a good point. The answer is that Yale University Press and I agreed that we would use the same license they used with my colleague Yochai Benkler's new book, The Wealth of Networks. (Note that the wikinotes to Yochai's book are licensed as SA.). Since this was an experimental venture, they had a greater comfort level using a license they were already familiar with.

This is creative commons at its best: too many works are locked down even though they're on a publisher's "backlist" or out of print.

I was actually planning on buying this already, since I'm interested in free culture, memes, and ideology but really an expert on any of those subjects (and because I really like your writing). Books and PDFs both have advantages, so I'm not sure

I submitted the front page to Reddit (a social bookmarking variant like Digg), and hopefully lots of people will check it out.

A few suggestions:
1: I think you have scanned jpegs of the book and put them together in a pdf file. The size of the entire manuscript would be smaller than a present chapter if you can put up the final word version of what you wrote. There must be some reason why you havent done that, sos ee if you can put it up as one file, a lot of people including me would prefer to download the whole ebook rather than each chapter.

2: The blurbs on the right cannot be read cause of the blue, if it's possible change the template.

Just thought would leave some comments which makes it easier for readers should you get dugg.

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