Sherlock Holmes and Creative Commons

I’d like to think if he were alive, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be amenable to the idea of Creative Commons. After all, Sherlock Holmes has a canon that branches out from Doyle and has been one of the more frequently reimagined characters in recent literature. The idea of copyleft seems like something Holmes himself would be open to; learning from one’s surroundings and building upon them was obviously a foundational trait of his character.

When talking about Copyleft or the idea of Creative Commons, I think Sherlock Holmes and the Internet of Things is one of the better, more concrete examples. How can we take a thing and make it more challenging, more thought provoking, and more connected to our lives? Yes there are communities that bond around other stories or subjects, but this isn’t fan fiction. This is using the investigative and inquisitive nature of Holmes to create, experiment, and stage.

I’m not sure what this looks like in a school environment. The literal application of IoT might be hard to do logistically, but could maybe be done on a small classroom level, or cross-curricularly with an English class and a Science or Applied Tech class. But it could also be a jumping off point for teachers. Instead of using this with Holmes, maybe we try to apply it to readings that we know are in our existing curricula but have a hard time connecting with students. Obviously the investigative nature of Holmes stories is more conducive to this application- I don’t see this approach working with “Their Eyes were Watching God” unfortunately- but maybe this could be done in a classroom first with Holmes simply as a way of rethinking stories and how we can expand our thinking.

I tried looking into school applications of IoT to see what it looks like in practice. Checking out the Meetups page ( there aren’t/weren’t any in my area. I did some more digging and found the “Share LA” in collaboration with “Learn DO Share” ( which is a Forked project spun off from IoT in an attempt to bring innovative and user driven experiences to LA students in 8th-12th grade. Unfortunately, for all the innovation these projects espouse, very little of it is actually documented on the internet (the irony). Share LA for example is completely out of date, still saying “launching Spring 2016”.

Doing a bit more digging back on the main IoT page, I wonder if a particularly enterprising teacher could basically have their class follow along with the IoT schedule starting with week zero ( and basically have their class do it along with the MOOC at large. You would need to do some editing but I think the Instagram format could be really engaging:

This is the kind of thing where, yes, scaffolding is necessary. You’d need to have done some previous learning and units on hacking, repurposing, arduino, raspberry pi, etc. Maybe something like the instaSherlock experience could be a culminating making experience for a class. This is one of those things where I think it could be a really amazing, shaping experience for kids but it is a large amount of work. It’s no surprise teachers would choose a large culminating exam instead. I wish there were more actual resources in the IoT community instead of kind of bigger picture vague ‘resources’. In order for these opportunities to really take hold, they need to be digestible not to the students, but to the teachers. Nevermind if scaffolding is needed for the kids, it’s needed for the adults! So I think this could be great, but I think it takes a very knowledgable teacher to make it happen. The IoT community could do a better job of engaging with local education communities to keep both sides of it more sustainable.