November 2009

In the United States, we celebrated Thanksgiving Day yesterday. Many of us ate the traditional turkey and stuffing with some cranberry sauce while sharing our heritage and food with relatives and friends.

Another great day is coming in just about a month. Yes, there is Christmas; that will be nice, too, but this year I plan to celebrate Public Domain Day on January 1, 2010. The celebration has been going on for a few years, but this will be the first time for me.

January first is the day, each year, when the works of some authors enter the public domain. Their works become officially a part of our cultural heritage in a way that makes them open for use, and not hampered by restrictions. The terms of copyright expire and give us the opportunity to remix and build upon the works of those who have gone before us. Building on the heritage of our shared culture is the key element, I think. Public domain status certainly also means that individuals get the first legal opportunity to simply copy a work. That’s great, but not the equal of making something new that wasn’t legal before.

Hey, if you are in the mood, not too overcome by the other associated activities of New Year’s Eve, join in the fun. Get a group together. Put up some signs in the town square. Wave to the drivers as they go by. Have a party. Celebrate Public Domain Day this year.

All is not completely rosy, though, for the time being, in the U.S. there is a freeze on release of works under copyright that goes all the way back to 1922. This is the result of the U.S. Congress extending copyright to “life of author + 70 years” instead of the more common (and former U.S. term) of  “life of author + 50 years”.  So U.S. citizens can only celebrate in a generic way. Our country isn’t going to actually have any works enter the public domain this year, or indeed until January 1, 2019, apparently, because of the law’s change of term.

As a citizen of the world, though, I’ll still celebrate our common, shared cultural heritage.

Links that might give you ideas and support for planning y0ur celebration.

Wikipedia article on the public domain:

A Logo from the celebration planned in Poland:

List of works entering the public domain from the Open Knowledge Foundation:

The first copyright law (The Copyright Act gave protection for a period of 14 years, with the right of renewal for another 14 years.):

The story of copyright:

The Internet Archive has provided us another service: NASA’s accumulation of images, videos, etc., well organized in one place for quick access and for use by you as a science educator and for you as a student in need of a great photo for your report on the solar system. The images are the product of work paid for by the taxpayers of the United States. The following statement clarifies how you may use them. Nicely open for access and use.

The NASA imagery offered on NASAIMAGES.ORG is generally not copyrighted. You may use this NASA imagery for educational or informational purposes, including photo collections, textbooks, public exhibits and Internet Web pages (personal or otherwise). This general permission does not extend to any use of the NASA insignia logo (the blue “meatball” insignia), the retired NASA logotype (the red “worm” logo) and the NASA seal (the “NASA Properties”) whether or not used in conjunction with images obtained from NASAIMAGES.ORG. Notwithstanding the foregoing restriction, you may use the NASA name and the NASA initials only as indicators of the original source of the NASA imagery.

A credit line should be used in connection with the images and should read “NASA/courtesy of”

The internet is opening our eyes to the world around us, and with this new site, it is also opening our eyes to the universe beyond our planet, too.


This blog represents a special interest group of MassCUE, and the organization likes to keep Special Interest Groups involved in a face-to-face way.

Therefore, with the offer from Jon Green in hand, MOSS SIG is organizing a meeting to be held at Jon’s district in Maynard, MA.

Please use a comment here to give a preference for which of three days. Or, even better, jump over to the SIGs forum on Google Groups and give your comment there. The Google Group actually enhances the interactivity of the SIG. There are more details about the voting process below. READ ON>

Jon and I hope we can come to a comfortable consensus with you on the
list to schedule a SIG meeting soon. The goal of the meeting is to get
familiar with each other. Giving a “face” to the members of the group
and to establish a roadmap of the goals the group should seek to
accomplish. If you have suggestions for things to consider, include them
in your reply even if you cannot attend the meeting.

We can even figure out remote access options for those who can spare the
time, but cannot make the trip.

Working from Jon’s schedule (hosting gets perks) we’d like you to react
to the following three dates for a meeting at 9:00AM.

Friday December 11
Monday December 14
Friday December 18

Please list them in order of preference in a reply post. If you cannot
make any of the days, list only the ones you can.

For example: 14, 11, 18 Which would say “I can make any of the dates,
but for me, the order of preference is the 14th followed by the 11th and
18th.” Another person might reply, 11, 18 showing only two dates saying,
“I can make either of the two Fridays, but not Monday the 11th.”

Directions are available on the Maynard schools Web page: and, you can create maps
and directions through sites like Google Maps and Mapquest.

Please pass the invitation along to your tech coordinator and others in
your district that might be interested whether or not you can attend.
MassCUE SIG meetings are open to all who have an interest. Membership in
MassCUE is not a requirement to attend.

Jon and I look forward to hearing from all of you.

Greg Kulowiec, [] a technology promoting history/social studies teacher is planning to try using QR Codes in his classes. This effort is the latest in his efforts to make the most of modern technologies to enhance the learning experiences for his students.

QR Codes are a two-dimensional “bar code” that many cell phones (with built-in cameras) will automatically decode. 2-D coding systems like QR Codes were originally built for industrial applications because they have a much greater capacity for information than the standard UPC codes we are used to seeing on boxes in grocery stores.

QR Code

This QR Code says:

MOSSSIG – Open Source Software in Schools

(There is actually only one line of text and no line breaks in the code. The line breaks are shown here for ease of reading.)

You can try out QR Coding yourself. I made the above graphic at:

You can decode the graphic yourself on line, too. First download the QR Code graphic from this page or another you find after some Web searching, and then submit it for decoding.

Are you experimenting with QR Codes?
Do you think they might be useful?
How about labeling for your technology assets?