A couple of months ago, Jeff Zonder was stroking my ego telling me how much he loved PBFluids and how it inspired him to begin blogging (check out his blog, Amyloid Planet). One of the aspects of PBFluids that he liked was how I freely shared my teaching materials.
A bit later I was invited to write a post for Wing of Zock, a blog about academic medicine in transformation and decided to write about the the value of sharing. The essence of the post is that it is not enough to just post a PDF of your presentation or paper, what you should post, to be truly useful to your audience, is the native, editable files. From the post:
The NYU Division of Nephrology has weekly renal grand rounds done by the fellows. In the spirit of Internet sharing, they post every presentation on the division’s website. Every presentation is available only as a PDF. This form of sharing is strictly Read Only; providing the information only as a PDF limits users from remixing your content. Posting a presentation as a PDF says to users, “You can use my material, but only if you use all my information. The way I teach this subject is the only way to teach this subject and my information is eternal and infallible.”
However, the Internet is inherently a Read/Write culture. The optimal way to post those presentations is as native PowerPoint files (or Google Docs Presentations or Apple Keynote presentations) so future fellows can leverage previous work, adding new data, correcting mistakes, and reworking the old into the new. Make the materials you provide online flexible to make them more useful, because the source of your satisfaction is usefulness to others. Provide the Power Point file so the user can grab what they like, skip what they don’t and fix the mistakes you made. We should readjust our sensibilities regarding ownership and intellectual property to recognize the Read/Write culture of the internet.