The story behind my @creativecommons ink

My tattoo

So, a few days ago I got a tattoo.

I have no other tattoos – I have been thinking of this one for over 7 years.  One night while hanging out with friends we were discussing what we would get if we ever got a tattoo – my friend Brad said “think of something that you would never ever want changed for your entire life.” Right then, the idea for a creative commons tattoo was born.  I have been thinking about it ever since our conversation many years ago and I told myself if and when I finished my Phd (which I did, yeah!) I would get the tattoo.

The only person I would trust with giving me a tattoo is Jeff Bates. I met Jeff over 12 years ago when Scott and I first moved into our house. Jeff (and his awesome wife Tra) were friends with our roommate Ken. Facebook has allowed us to peer into each others lives for the past several years and I have followed Jeff’s work on the page for his shop – 51 Tattoo – he did an amazing job and I highly recommend his work!

There are 3 symbols inked into my foot  – the creative commons logo, by attribution, and share alike. Many people have asked me what they mean…

What is creative commons?

Creative Commons Mission
Creative Commons develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation.

Creative Commons Vision
Our vision is nothing less than realizing the full potential of the Internet — universal access to research and education, full participation in culture — to drive a new era of development, growth, and productivity.

By attribution means that you let others copy, distribute, display and perform your copyrighted work – and derivative works based upon it – but only if they give credit the way you require.

Share Alike – means you allow other to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.

The creative commons is something that is very, very meaningful to me (thus the indelible ink.)  I have made amazing connections to others via technologies born from Creative Commons.  By sharing my work, my photographs have made it to the Freakonomics blog, the Guardian blog in the UK, and the Pure Michigan blog. Since I am aware of my wider audience and I have learned so much about photography by sharing my photos with others. I create assignments using the Creative Commons – and on and on – it’s what I do and what I will continue to do.  The open network and the platforms upon which the network is built (like WordPress) inspire me and I hope I can contribute and give back a portion of what has been given to me.

While I was getting my tattoo, Jeff said the best kind of tattoos are the ones that start a conversation and he thought mine was one of those tattoos – I’m looking forward to many more conversations about the Creative Commons :)

To learn more, you can read (and remix, reuse) Larry Lessig’s books on free culture and the Creative Commons:

The Future of Ideas –
Free Culture –
Remix –

I also credit Yochai Benkler’s the Weath of Networks for deepening my understanding of creative culture and open content.


6 thoughts on “The story behind my @creativecommons ink

  1. Creative Commons tattoos “for the the win”!

    Congrats on the PhD. And double congrats on the great ink. Not only is it a great conversation starter, but now you can rest easy knowing that when the great cloning revolution comes in 2016, people will have to share your clones with the rest of the world!

  2. I’m a huge fan… of CC and of your tattoo. If I ever get inked myself, you can bet that CC will have a role to play in the artwork.

  3. Not to be a copy cat, but I agree with your sentiments and I share your love of the CC concept. I think I maybe getting this one soon too. Thanks for the share.

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