This Week in Sharing: Education, Consumption, and Creative Commons

Even though everyone has tightened their belts to survive the past few years of collective economic strife, the holiday season generally demands a further notch-in. Luckily for all of us, sharing is blazing a wide and long trail across multiple sectors of life, from education to transportation.

In a bid to make higher education more accessible to the masses, the new Professor Direct venture offers courses without the middle man. That's right: the professors are able to work directly with the students. The accredited, self-paced, online curriculum launched by StraighterLine covers subjects "ranging from humanities and general ed requirements to business, science, and remedial math and English" with more being rolled out as the company grows. Though it's not quite open education, Professor Direct could well provide affordable college degrees for many who thought the milestone previously unachievable.

Creative Commons and open source have had quite a shareable decade... and both are really just getting started. As more and more people embrace the sharing of previously proprietary content in the digital age, OpenSource.com gathered up some of the best coverage of the Creative Commons movement from the past 10 years.

OpenSource.com also dug into the underbelly of the open source world to root out what the common thread was that tied all the disparate open source projects and offerings together. What they found makes perfect sense: passion. When people are doing something they believe in and contributing to a greater good, the rewards come in myriad forms and the enthusiasm is unbridled.

As the teams at yerdle and the Story of Stuff both endeavored to keep people out of malls on Black Friday, one of the world's leading socially responsible, environmentally sustainable companies joined the anti-consumption fray, as well. Patagonia, once again, threw down the gauntlet with its customers: “We design and sell things made to last and be useful. But we ask our customers not to buy from us what you don’t need or can’t really use. Everything we make -- everything anyone makes -- costs the planet more than it gives back.” Despite -- or, perhaps, because of -- telling people not to buy their goods, Patagonia raked in a nice piece of the $1 billion Black Friday pie this year.

Also on the swap, don't shop bandwagon this year is Vermont's first female governor, Madeleine Kunin. In an article for Huffington Post, Kunin addressed how cleaning out her closets at this time of year and donating gently used clothing just feels good. Not only does she feel the satisfaction of a tidier home, but she also knows that the goods she shares will benefit someone else.

The Sierra Club recently issued a report called Smart Choices, Less Traffic The 50 Best and Worst Transportation Projects In the United States in a bid to understand where and how the $200 billion infrastructure fund is spent each year because "too often transportation projects undermine the higher national goals of reducing oil consumption, increasing safety, improving public health, and saving local, state, or federal government— and citizens — money." Among the better projects are Caltrain in Northern California, Bike Missoula in Montana, New Orleans streetcars, and an Everglades skyway. The lesser notions include the Grand Parkway in Houston, nationwide transit system cuts, the Coalfields Expressway in Virginia, and the Illiana Expressway in Chicago.

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