FSF Transparency of Sources of Funding

A friend said of FSF accounts, “It’s disingenuous to say that online accounts is the same as transparency. It is easy enough to disguise the source of money, after all.”

I looked around a bit. The FSF About Page says,

Financial information about the Free Software Foundation is available from the independent charity rating organization, Charity Navigator. In 2003, 2004 and 2005 Charity Navigator rated the Foundation as 3 out of 4 stars: “Good. Exceeds or meets industry standards and performs as well as or better than most charities in its Cause”. In 2006 Charity Navigator rated the Foundation as 4 out of 4 stars: “Exceptional. Exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its Cause.”

Review our financial information now at Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator says that the FSF “has a written donor privacy policy” “which states in no uncertain terms that it will not sell, trade or share [donors] personal information with anyone else.”

The FSF has a nascar page listing the corporate patrons, and also lists the individual large donors.

This seems pretty transparent to me.

Can anyone give an example of the kind of transparency you’d like to see?

Richard Stallman on BSD vs GPL

Richard Stallman was recently in the software freedom community news for the discussion he kicked off on the OpenBSD-misc mailing list with the subject “Real men don’t attack straw men” - and this discussion is still ongoing - but he has an excellent summary of his views on revised BSD style licenses versus the GPL:

Releasing free software under a non-copyleft free software license is basically good (i.e., not evil), but that using copyleft is better.

Later in the thread, Richard explains the freedom-or-power issue:

Your definition of free is replete with chains; you would deny the freedom of choice in the name of freedom.
Freedom means having control of your own life; “Freedom of choice” is a partly accurate and partly misleading way to describe that, and taking that expression too literally leads to mistaken conclusions. Thus, I say I advocate “freedom” — not “freedom of choice”. This always leads to the question of “which freedom?” In the area of software, I want a society in which users are free to run software, free study and change its source code and make their changed versions run, and free to redistribute changed and unchanged versions. In other words, a society in which non-free software more or less doesn’t exist. Establishing a free society that endures generally requires not allowing people to give up freedom. In other words, it requires inalienable rights. I do not want a society in which people had those freedoms only until they gave them up. I do not say this with the expectation that you will agree with me. It sounds like you are as firmly convinced of your views as I am of mine. I hope, though, that at least you will understand better what my position is.

Richard makes an interesting case for it being made illegal in the same way that it is illegal to agree to give up other inalienable human rights - say to work in dangerous conditions (at least, in the UK, which has better human rights laws than other countries with very poor factory conditions and human rights records - I’m thinking of really dangerous stuff as well, since many think that UK “Health and Safety” laws go too far) - that is to say that software freedom ought to be an inalienable right.

Update: I had same that its “in the same way as it is illegal to sell yourself into slavery.” But having proprietary control of software which other people use is not akin to slave holding; developers have a lot of power of users, but its not total power. I am often exaggerating this stuff and need to cut that out because it actually weakens my argument. I do it because I think the argument is hard to grasp, I suppose. Being more accurate, it akin to being a medieval lord, and inviting people to become serfs on your land. “Serfdom was the enforced labour of serfs on the fields of landowners, in return for … the right to work on their leased fields.” But this is a kind of weird/subtle historic concept, so probably something contemporary like factory working conditions would be better.

How Gnash Will Support BBC iPlayer

Today I posted on the Gnash list, “On the BBC Backstage list last night, it was announced that the BBC iPlayer released its Flash version last night, and I hope Gnash will support it shortly.”

Hubert Figuiere replied,

It involves having someone based in UK to do the work. Because BBC block clients not in the UK (probably IP net-block based as usual).

Good luck.

This is obvious, but does not bode well…

Free Software for Digital Cameras

Some of my friends on the MATD course recently asked me about free software for cameras, and it turns out there is some :-) My friend Mako wrote:

I was excited to find CHDK - http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page - recently. In a nutshell, it is a free software firmware add-on for certain Canon digital cameras. I couldn’t help but notice that the top item on the CHDK feature list is the ability to shoot RAW.

RAW is a sensor specific set of formats for digital cameras that, in many situations (but not all) boils down to a set of minimally processed readings off the sensor in the camera. RAW data is usually uncompressed. While RAW files are not usable without processing — they’re like negatives in that regard — I am told that professionals and most serious amateurs swear by them. RAW is one feature that camera companies use to differentiate their high-end and low-end cameras. Sensors, processors, and even lenses might be similar or identical in two cameras priced USD $100 apart. The difference frequently lies largely in the software, or firmware, that runs on the cameras. Expensive cameras have software that will produce RAW files. Low-end cameras will only give you the preprocessed, compressed, JPEGs.

Now, what’s so interesting about RAW as a high-end feature is that the data often exists (almost unprocessed) in the camera’s memory for every single picture taken. In so far as RAW is raw sensor data, it exists every time the sensor is used. In high-end cameras, users are given the option to process that data and send it through a JPEG compressor. In low-end cameras, there’s no option; the data is processed and compressed and the raw data is thrown away.

RAW is an example of an anti-feature. Anti-features are sold to customers as features but are fundamental or unavoidable aspects of systems that can only be removed or withheld through technological effort. Unlike real features, producers of anti-features charge customers for not inhibiting access to their products’ full functionality. Technological and legal barriers that keep anti-features away from the users of intentionally less featureful end up costing all users their freedom. It is more difficult for Canon to make cameras that output JPEGs than cameras that output RAW, and it’s not significantly more difficult to offer users a choice.

DRM and trusted/treacherous computing systems are, in many ways, an extreme example of anti-features. Users don’t want either and they are hugely expensive and extremely difficult for developers to implement. Region-coded DVDs, copy-protection measures, and Apple’s new optional DRM music store are also great examples. Many architectures of control qualify as well. It takes a large amount of work to build these systems and users rarely benefit. Like blackmail, users can sometimes pay technology providers to not include the anti-feature in their technology.

But that is only if users are allowed to pay to turn their anti-features off at all! As I described three years ago Mozilla and Firefox were blocking pop-ups for years before Microsoft got around to adding the feature to IE. Despite the fact that Firefox has become fancy about pop-up blocking recently, simply not showing pop-ups (i.e., the way the feature was originally implemented in Mozilla and celebrated by users) is easier than showing them. Microsoft held back not because it was difficult, but because of other parts of Microsoft and their partners used and made money from pop-ups. Ultimately, Microsoft lost droves of users to the free alternative that was willing to put users first.

Unfortunately for the companies and individuals trying to push anti-features, users increasingly often have alternatives in free software. Similar to Mozilla’s pop-up blocking feature, RAW was low-hanging fruit for the free software developers working on CHDK. The absence of similar anti-features form some of the the easiest victories for free software. It does not cost free software developers anything to avoid anti-features. In many cases, doing nothing is exactly what users want.

Great Summary of the Affero GPL

The FSF Fall Newsletter has a great summary of the Affero GPL!

BBC iPlayer is now DRM Free!

On the BBC Backstage list last night, it was announced that the BBC iPlayer released its Flash version last night, and I am very happy to see that it is DRM free!

Sadly, this may not last.

The Flash Media Server 3 was released last month, and Tom Loosemore linked to a PC Pro article that mention the BBC will be moving to FMS3 shortly. Sean Daly noted that “DRM is central to Adobe’s pitch to broadcasters.”

I am afraid that when the BBC uses FMSv3, it will force the DRM back on to people.

Also, it doesn’t yet work with Gnash at all, although I hope that will change shortly. The most excellent James Cridland has a screenshot of it running with the proprietary Adobe Flash player, making it all the more tantalizing! :-)

Once it does work with Gnash, the next problem will be that it uses patent encumbered media formats. I guess this means that Fedora’s version of Gnash will be unable to play it, for example. (Sadly no one I’ve spoken to in the BBC is convinced about using the Xiph formats. I ought to make a decent post about this some time.)

The other thing, which I mentioned in my recent longer post on the iPlayer, is that this is a streaming service, not a download service. There is a subtle bias in the concept of streaming that I don’t like: The idea of viewing instead of storing data.

There are minor legal problems with streaming. To play videos available through the streaming iPlayer on any offline computer - like a handheld computer meant for playing video like an Archos or iPod - you’ll probably need to break the Terms of Service (I don’t know for sure, I haven’t read them).

Today, the DRM-laden download iPlayer does store video on people’s own computers, making the restrictions more tantalizing and obvious to non-experts: They can realise and imagine, totally by themselves, that things could be different - that they could transfer the video file to their other computers, or watch it offline.

When the option to do this isn’t there, people don’t only think that its not possible - they forget you would even want to! When Christopher Woods raised this point on the Backstage list, Sebnem Oeztunali replied “Don’t you just need to hit the “play again” button for subsequent viewing in a flash player?” which is a perfect example of this.

Trying to get people to figure out for themselves why DRM is awful is key, I think. I have asked people, “Why can’t you copy music from your iPod to your computer? You know it is a portable harddisk, like the one on your desk for your backups, right? So why not?”

Now I’ll ask them, “Why can’t you watch the iPlayer on your laptop when you are not online?”

Is the BSD license more or less restrictive than the GPL?

My friend Chris Buckley, now in the employ of Red Hat, asked me today:

Is the BSD license more or less restrictive than the GPL?

First we have to resolve which BSD and GPL licenses you refer to.

The original BSD license is an all permissive (non-copyleft protected) license that is incompatible with all versions of the GPL.

The revised (1999 onwards) BSD license is an all permissive license that is compatible with all versions of the GPL.

Therefore the FSF recommends calling simple all-permissive licenses compatible with the GPL “X11” licenses instead of “BSD” ones. (OSI says “MIT” licenses, but MIT has released under lots of licenses so its not ideal.)

Which is more free, X11 or GPL?

They are equally free. X11 style licenses are free software licenses. The GPL licenses are free software licenses. Being a free software license is a binary value. At the important level, it is nonsense to say one is more or less restrictive than any other.

In the details, there are differences though.

Revised BSD is “more free” than original BSD because it is GPL compatible; you are free to distribute combined versions of such with all the GPL software out there, and that is very useful. Its a very secondary kind of freedom though, compared to the kind of freedom that defines free software.

The GPL has clauses to ensure the software remains free for all users of the software. Copyleft is the main example of this as it was in GPLv1; GPLv3 has other clauses like those about Tivoisation.

To me these are protections, but proprietary software developers call these clauses “restrictions” because they restrict them from restricting everyone.

There is tonnes of bullshit around the web that says stuff like “From the perspective of the user, the BSD license is actually more “free” than the GPL: you can do whatever you want with the code, including wrap it up and make it proprietary.”

But by “more” they mean “less,” by “users” they mean “developers” and by “including” they mean “especially.”

It is less freedom from the perspective of users because X11 licenses allow middlemen developers to make proprietary versions, so not all users will have freedom. With GPL, all users will have freedom.

What you can do is freedom; when what you do effects others, it is not really freedom by power. The GPL restricts the amount of power you have over other people, it does not restrict your freedom. [0] So if you are making your software free, the GPL does not restrict you at all.

Since GPL software cannot become proprietary, the GPL makes for more freedom, overall.

However, there are exceptions to that. For example:

So it could be said that all-permissive non-copyleft free software licenses are more restrictive than the GPL, from the perspective of users, because some versions of the software will be proprietary.

However, I think its better to reformulate the question: Which license will result in the most freedom for all users?

Usually this is the GPL, but it depends on the situation.

[0] Bradley Kuhn - CTO of softwarefreedom.org and previously Executive Director of FSF and a very cool guy who I met last time I was in New York - wrote about this in “Freedom or Power?”

[1] Programming languages are typically non-copyleft, although I think thats a shame - Perl was originally GPL, and if it remained GPL, all perl software would be GPL. I don’t know the exact circumstances why it switched, although I’d like to.

Voices from Open Translation Tools 2007 Video

The video of the Open Translation Tools conference is now online at Blip:

There is also a version being translated on dotSUB, and Ed Zad the founder was part of the unconference :-)

Arguments Against DRM, specifically BBC iPlayer

Dave Crossland at the FSF iPlayer protest

(To be sure: This is all my personal opinion and doesn’t reflect the views of any past or present employers or organizations I am a member of!)

Sometime, DRM is confused with platform neutrality.

As I see it, there are two groups of anti-iPlayer dissenters, anti-DRMers and anti-single platformers. I don’t think they overlap, although they might superficially appear to.

Many people are complaining about iPlayer not being available on Mac OS X, and a few are complaining that iPlayer isn’t available for GNU+Linux. They are, literally, asking for a DRM system. If someone has a Mac or Ubuntu with many proprietary and DRM programs installed - eg, Google Earth - and they pay lip service to anti-DRM but talks of “cross platform problems,” their actions speak louder than words: They are not opposed to DRM, they accept it, and do not overlap with the second group.

A player that is cross platform is a secondary issue; the primary issue is software freedom. When the BBC releases a cross platform DRM iPlayer, this problem will remain.

What worries me is that when BBC does this, the cross platform dissenters will shut up so the issue will appear resolved, and the software freedom issue will be marginalised as nonsense that only effects some weird “religious fanatics.”

Here’s the overlap: If iPlayer was not a DRM system, then the software freedom community would not be legally obstructed from writing their own software - and that software would be cross-platform. This is different to asking the BBC to write a cross platform system, and substantially different from asking the BBC to write a cross platform DRM system. The simplest thing the BBC could do, after removing the DRM, would be to release the specifications of the software (ie, just describe how it works). Of course, if they release their software as free software that would be ideal.

So I think is essential to downplay the “platform neutrality” issue totally, because it implies support for DRM and obscures the issue of DRM and software freedom.

Sometimes, DRM is couched in terms of “eventually” being a problem, but I think this is questionable; if DRM will eventually stop the BBC from fulfilling its public service remit, it is stopping it right now. Don’t underestimate the power of now ;-)

If we’re unable to convince them DRM is illegitimate now, its acceptance and continued use will lead to it becoming entrenched. That diminishes the chance of future participatory culture at the BBC - since remix culture depends on the absence of DRM technology.

Sometimes, DRM and participatory “remix” culture, two substantially different issues, are sometimes combined.

But making some issue a ‘secondary’ issue that oh-so-happens to depend on another ‘primary’ issue, that is easier to convince people of, isn’t as good a strategy as it might seem. Perhaps it would be a good idea if the primary one was convincing or always true, but this is is rarely the case, and I don’t think it is here.

The BBC started to address participatory culture a few years ago, with the Creative Archive, but stopped working on it because they deemed the job of convincing rights holders to permit the public to remix the works they control as too expensive.

I think this is because, currently, the BBC sees its public service broadcasting remit as getting rights holders video seen by people - not stored by them, and certainly not remixed by them.

This assumption is seen when the BBC tries to characterize the issue as “cross platform” - because when it releases a DRM iPlayer for OS X and GNU+Linux and mobile devices, it will be getting rights holders video seen by more people. Ashley Highfield has been quite clear that, if it was easy, he would have rolled out a DRM iPlayer for all platforms already. This is also why the BBC is moving towards streaming - we are just meant to see things, not store them.

So challenging this entrenched idea is going to be very hard, harder than convincing them that DRM is illegitimate, I think.

Consider the following user scenarios:

  1. I view a DRM streaming service, capture the streamed video data, break the DRM, make a small documentary with it, and upload it to a website. I will have acted illegally in three ways - first through contract law, since I broke the Terms of Service contract in which I agreed not to capture the stream, second though ‘plain old copyright’ law, since I have made and distributed a derived work without permission, and third though ‘copyright protection mechanism circumvention’ law, which started with the DMCA and was introduced to the UK via the EUCD, by breaking the DRM. If I get caught I can go to jail.

  2. I download a DRM video with a proprietary program, break the DRM, make a documentary, and upload it. I will have acted illegally in two ways - distributing a derived work without permission, and circumventing a copyright protection mechanism. If I get caught I can go to jail.

  3. I download a DRM video with free software, break the DRM, and view it as I wish - on my portable player, say. I will have acted illegally in one way - circumventing a copyright protection mechanism. If I get caught I can go to jail.

  4. I view a non-DRM streaming service with free software, capture the streamed video data, and view it as I wish. I will have acted illegally in one way - I broke a contract. If I get caught, I can be sued might be fined, but its possible I might win and as this is a civil case, not a criminal one, I don’t fear jail time.

  5. I download some video data with free software and view it as I wish. I have not acted illegally. I am free.

  6. I download and view some video data with free software, and easily make a documentary and upload it. I will have acted illegally in one way - distributing a derived work without permission. If I get caught I can go to jail.

  7. I download and view some video data with a free software iPlayer program, and easily make a small documentary and upload it to archive.org. Because the BBC used a Creative Commons license that permits remixing, and I comply with it, I have not acted illegally. I am free, in a free culture.

Now, #4 is something I’ve seen ORG push for in the past. UPDATE: #4 is nearly available, with Flash video streaming reportedly working on Mac OS X with the Adobe Flash Player, but not on GNU+Linux with GNU Gnash. Both #4 and #5 easily lead to #6, which is the appropriate place from which to work on #7, I think. And that is tough work. Some in the BBC and elsewhere do not want to encourage participatory culture at all, even.

How to convince the rights holders of the video the BBC broadcasts that using a CC-mixing license is in their interests?

I don’t know.

But I would like to see everyone campaign for #5 in the mean time. Why?

Why do I think software freedom is the primary issue?

Because all the practical problems we typically raise about software - about missing features, usability, speed, reliability, cross platform, etc - are easy to fix, unlike the problems with physical tools.

With proprietary software, only the owner has the power to fix things, so problems typically go unfixed for long periods or even forever. I’m not a programmer, but I think its wrong to give up our freedom and submit to that form of power; its very frustrating when you want some broken software fixed, can find someone to do the work, and there’s no way to get it done - without starting from scratch.

Since people writing free software typically have to start from scratch, it takes time to make something of quality. This is why free software has a varying reputation for quality and usability. Free software out competes proprietary versions in all practical aspects once it is mature, though. And fixing peoples problems is a sturdy business model, so today after 30 years of it, we have lots of great and mature free software.

But DRM means its not even possible to start from scratch - its illegal to do so. This is the exact same problem as with software idea patents.

There are a couple of reasons I don’t think #4 is ideal. The minor ToS problems are obvious, but there is a subtle bias in the concept of streaming that I don’t like: The idea of viewing instead of storing data.

Today, the iPlayer does store video on people’s own computers, making the restrictions more tantalizing and obvious to non-experts: They can realise and imagine, totally by themselves, that things could be different.

This is basis of the most effective strategy I’ve found for criticising DRM; getting them to figure out why its bogus, by guiding their own logic. I ask people, “Why can’t you copy music from your iPod to your computer? You know it is a portable harddisk, like the one on your desk for your backups, right? So why not?”

In the age of the self, people have to figure things out for themselves.

Adam Curtis On The Self

Adam Curtis lectured at Whitechapel Art Gallery this weekend, and sadly I missed last night, but made it to the lecture tonight, and liveblogged the event. His documentaries are all over the web and thought-provoking and insightful. Thanks to Gareth for linking me up with this event :-)

(Note for You: There appears to be some public interest in my lecture notes, that I take at all the various kinds of lectures that I attend, for my own learning. If there is anything incorrect, please email me and I will update the text, or add your comments or trackbacks as you’d like. Be aware that the reason I type these notes is for my own personal use, pretty much stream-of-conscious style, so I can easily confuse comments from the speakers and myself, and my typing is not accurate so it is probably full of typos. I publish these notes since they might, possibly, be of use to others; no guarantees on that, though! :-) Probably a lot of things are misquoted and not even true at all. Please, apply common sense and don’t take this for anything other than rough-cuts from a notebook; nothing here is reliable or a real quote of anyone, any errors or confusions are almost certainly mine. Yet I hope you’ll find uses for it nonetheless… “A snowball rolls down the webhill!” as Fravia might say…)



Topic of talk: Rise of the self and how that ideology has eroded reality

Adam: The rise of the radical individual in society. Explaining this is an ideology; a way of looking at the word; other ideas of freedom and individualism.

This individualism has effect institutions, including those that report the world to us. That’s what I mean by reality. In the process, it has simplified the way reporters report - sometimes so much so, that what is reported is not real, its mythified, a pantomime reality.

The new realism emerging? Its not reality, its realism. How you report whats real to others is an agreed frame of reference between media people and audiences. All societies have them; medieval paintings had a sense of realism because it had a code and

Our realism that is dying is a political realism. Certainly from the late 80s is now dying. Politics could not only understand the world, descriptive the problems, and solve them. A progressive image that dominated the 20th century. I’m a documentary maker, I say I’m really a journalist, but I’m really really a documentary maker ;-)

You can become part of the progressive tradition when doing reporting, and I think we’re at the end of it.

Here are two short B&W clips, one from 1948, very dull but sums things up - about housing problems. The other is from Cathy Come Home; central to the myths of individualism.

First is a exhortation again power elites and the power of the British working classes. The other is a child being snatched by men in white coats from a homeless woman.

Ken Loatch would hate the voice in the first clip, but both clips are suffused with the idea you can change the world and you have the power to make things that make change happen.

It feels long ago; we don’t think films have that effect any more. That’s the image of political realism. In the 1980s that idea really begun to collapse, and it was crucial. But there were still people who thought you could still change the world.

Personal development is the idea that you could give up on mass change but change individuals, and by everyone doing it themselves, society would be transformed. personal transformation - this is the root of the idea that you get an identity through the objects that express you best.

The last episode in the Century of Self, in 1992/1993 with Clinton - interesting it was on the liberal left. Clinton came in to power, in the traditional left way. He was sandwiched by a crisis and the swing voter. In 1996 he was going to lose, and then Dick Morris, an amoral consultant, and he took Clinton to Mark Pen. One of the most powerful men in the world. Running Hillary campaign at the moment. used a neuropsychiatric poll to find out what people wanted, and gave it to them.

Here’s a clip from Century of the Self. “To get inside the swing voters…” end withs Robert Riech talking about how the idea was to get back in to power with ad style propaganda and no real mandate.

So the roots of political realism was falling apart, and I started looking at this with Power of Nightmares. Islamism starts in 1949 and leads up to 9/11. If you go through the story of the people and their ideas and what led to 9/11. What was reported as a terrorist threat was - dangerously! - distorted and overly simplified. There is a serious terrorist threat, there are people who want to kill us, but there is no organised network of sleeper cells with a man in an Afghan cave running it. There are fragmented terrorist groups with no connection, inspired by a movement that they feel is failing and they are lashing out. We were not reported reality, we were reported a strange apocalyptic pantomime.

Here is a clip from Power of Nightmares, about USA troops searching for Bin laden. “In December, the Americans were told…” - Osama hiding in a cave, and THIS IS IT, cut deep into the rock, ventilation, computer systems and telephones, and tunnels to drive trucks and even tanks. Rumsfeld: “You bet! there are many of these!” So they bombed the caves and went up there. All they found is a few natural caves. The fortress never existed. Northern Alliance were just kidnapping anyone who looked like an Arab, and SOLD them to the Americans. Al Queda appeared to have disappeared. Then the British arrived to find them, because of their special experience with Northern Ireland. There was nothing there because the 9/11 attacks were done by a small group formed in the late 90s. With the American invasion, the group was scattered, but the idea was left. The idea could inspire new groups and individuals. The UK-USA forces were chasing a phantom. A trooper says, “people are looking for something that isn’t there; just an idea of young angry Muslim males, and that idea is the threat.”

So, you were being misreported to, that is one thing I wanted to point out. Journalistic-ally, to report something that isn’t accurate. The other thing was, WHY? And that’s what I tried to explain.

I think its because politicians were losing touch with individuals, and they figured FEAR was an emotion they could create and connect with. Politicians feeling their power slipping away because of the rise of self interested individuals who could only be given small autonomous tasks, which doesn’t make them very important.

So when 9/11 happened, they saw fear in people, and seized on it as something that could reestablish their authority. Reality was being corroded so they could hold on to their power that they had grown up with.

Here’s a final clip: “That’s the way we live today, its a nightmare.” Both the neocons and the islamist extremists created a

All the grand ideas have lost credibility, and fear of a phantom menace is all politicians have left to maintain their authority. In a society that believes in nothing, politicians can stand for nothing. A society that believes in nothing is scared of people who believe in something, and they create fear out of proportion. They create a reaction that reflect how atomised we

Its not just politicians, its journalists too. TV journalists, also suffer form this too. They hate that no one respects them. They grew up thinking that they could tell us about the world, and it turns out we don’t care what they say. Planetary catastrophe, junk food being bad for you - real problems, but people turn it into more than that.

There’s a Metro: “Beams of Fright” - telling you that lights will be projected from battersea power station to tell you there is a flood in London at night. They turn serious issues like climate change or junk food into apocalyptic pantomimes. These journalists know nothing, they tell me this, off the record! - there are grains of truth, but they knew there was no Al Queda press relations officers who could come back on that.

The Ricin plot in London was going to be reported at one, single, horrible man, who wanted to smear Ricin on car doors.

And the audience sense our uncertainty, that we cant hide, and so journalists take the final step in the logic of the self, and

And here’s a Charlie Brooker film on the rise of the television journalist as a hero I did. Berlin wall was a total surprise; T journalists didn’t see it. They could tell their simple moral stories no more.

Done Lackater went to film what it was like to get mugged in Brixton. They cut out the middlemen and got us to send in our own news. In doing that, we are doing something different. Journalists don’t know what is happening in our world, and they are reverting to an audience to tell them - Us. But we don’t have a clue, because journalists have given up on their job to explain the world to us.

A mantra in reporters offices… Journalists becoming weeping individuals, no one knows if we are heading for a financial crisis or not, and all the previously great and grand institution seem foolish.

Inequalities are getting worse, social stratifications are solidifying. And we ignore reports, because WE know that They DO NOT know how to solve them. They forgot their ideas of political progression and changing the world. Cathy Come Home had a promise of changing the world.

I’m as complicit as the next journalist in doing this.

So what is real?

What does grab people these days?

Here are some more clips; these are, 20 million AOL searches were leaked, and they are FASCINATING. You have to download it through bittorrent. People endlessly searching for things. Its fascinating. Peoples sitting down and following their emotions in this weird way, that makes sense to them, and its gripping.

User 15830. Starts with calories. Calories in bananas. Aftermath of incest. Victim of incest. Pottery barn. Curtains. Surgical help for depression. ….. Anti psychotic drugs.

Its fascinating, its the reality of our time ,and its totally gripping. We are trapped in our subjective worlds, and many marketeers tell us that there is a hunger in this atomised world to find out what other people are like… people go into book shops and they look at what OTHER PEOPLE are holding in their hands to buy. This is going into others minds and seeing what is there. This is what people are like in private. They are frightening. This is User 59920. Privacy is not good o n the Internet. “Cat skinned in fort lupton co” etc - its very weird, threatening stuff… And it could be a writer, it could be some nutcase. Its a weird reality, you do not know what this is or how to interpret it.

All Internet computers are in big server farms. These computers reveal that we are not, in any way, individuals. We all feel we are self expressive individuals, everything is within us. Psychological marketing is now dying away; computers are revealing that we act in herd like ways. I met the man who invented how to sell credit cards to people who don’t really want them. He is a BF Skinner fan, and he did this in the early 80s. He invented subcrime, and is now on the run!

Computers reveal another truth, you feel you are an individual, but the machine tells you that in fact you are very predictable.

This raises 2 questions. What are we? Does this mean we are simply predictable. can you predict through computers that the self is not true, we are totally formed by people outside ourselves? Or, as I said in the trap, we have become simplified beings. That’s what I think. We are driven by the simplest selfish desires, and we become compliant with it.

The point about psychological categories, we can measure to what extent we deviate from the norm - again defined by computers - and it seems democratic. its a series of categories you can measure yourself against, and people WANT to do this. In a world in which you are alone, you seek definitions outside yourself.

So the search makes you feel as in individual, but act as the opposite. So either we ARE predictable, or we have BECOME predictable. I thin the latter. People are being real, but encased in a set of ideas - which they think are real - but different to the previous collective realities. But people are more complex than this and its starting to break out.

So hers something I slapped together on Friday night. A final thing about the 2 chief ideologists of this age of the self. Both mired in the language of the self. Perhaps, both, I think, are today sounding hollow and unsubstantial.

Russian marchers. Tracey Emin: “the sun does revolve around me” T shirt. Her tent. MS slogan, where do YOU want to go today? Another ad “you are the arbiter of your own style”. Blair: “I ask you to accept that, with my hand on my heart, I did what I thought was right.” The woman disco dancing on her own in the mall. Emin, talking about her sec themed work. Blair “I may have been wrong, that’s your call. But i did what I thought was right for our country”.

So, I put Blair in. All he is left with is the language of the self. That I believe it means its right. That’s what politics has become. Modern Art is the chief ideologists of our age, far form their media portrayal as rebellious.



Q: You work for BBC Current Affairs? A: Not there at the moment, I moved on. When I was there, I made power of nightmares there, and they were great. Peter Horrocks pushed it through, I was happy it did get through. Journalists really don’t know what is going on. BBC Current Affairs do “do my tits look too big” too - people who used to work on panorama now work on stuff like that as well.

Q: The way you construct histories and your storytelling; you nail individuals. Persons who represent ideas, the important movers in history. a bourgeois male history.

A: Ideas have power, people come into power and execute the

I get slagged off mainly by chomskyites, who think whatever we do is irrelevant, on the dark tides on history. I don’t believe that, powerful men and women have ideas and execute

i see

Q: bloggers? A: I argued that bloggers tend to be, they think they are wild and expressive individuals, but they are in the bubble of the self. they are as a collective movement, and they are becoming ht new censors. A herd acting as censors. News editors are terrified that left and right wing bloggers will attack you. New York public library tired to have an exhibition. They controversialise you, they make you part of the story, and the news editors have to take you out of the story because then you are party of the story. Its not working out how it was supposed to work out. Its like bullying, when you are on the end of a blog-wind(?)

Q: i went on a climate change march, 7,000 people across the country, a paltry showing. Will anti climate change fail because its a collective action. A: Last night I said climate change is a serious issue, but there are political issues about how you solve them. What I argued is, the apocalyptic pantomime is failing. As Blair did with terrorism; he took a serious threat and put it into a pantomime. It doesn’t do anyone any good to turn it into a pantomime. When you portray something as an Apocalypse, it becomes one thing. I think we’ll get more collective interest, when its not just one thing. I sense a change in the air though, its all too boring. Al music and art is reworking the past. The self traps innovation; politics cant move forward. So what I’m concerned with is climate change people get out of their bubble. Climate Change Modelling is interesting, I’d like to do a documentary on that. The movement should pick another front; the BBC pulled Jonathan Ross because he wasn’t going to give a chance to debate it coherently. The BBC would be more sympathetic to rational debate than just being scared.

Q: We follow the USA, what happens in the USA happens here. Our empire crumbled, their empire is at its peak. Is it fair to say whatever happens necessarily is reflected over here? A: The Californian ideology, in the latter parts of Century of the Self. So yes, i think its bigger than empire. IN Power of Nightmares, I dealt with how we shadowed something. We live in the shadow of “Internet ideology” - we all all interlinked in webs without hierarchies is a new form of democracy. The Whole Earth Catalog is the Californian ideology. Individuals are more important than any other form of authority. The idea that you can create a world without hierarchies of power. Rumsfeld, the whole war plan in Iraq, was based on nodal network; you could go in with nodal networks of troops and it would set up a nodal society. So, with American foreign policy, I think, yes.

Q: So will the Chinese be Californian hippies? A: Well, a friend is high up in the Chinese elite. Chon Ching is the largest city in the world, shes there.. There is a boom there in china, but the people there think it is failing. Can you have capitalism without democracy? The Chinese seem to think you can. But it may just be a bubble. No one knows. We report it, but it might not be real. That’s the nature of our time.

Q? A: I stand by what I said. There is no evidence of an organised network. Madrid bombings; now they admit its just a separate cell. July, a nasty little fragmented group. Yes, they had contacts all over the world - who doesn’t? But if someone bombs your city, you cant help but feel frightened and its not surprising people react like that. But remember what we were told in 2002; an organised network. But its gone. There are debates about the nature of the threat; should we let Iran collapse itself? Yes and no it the answer to that.

Q: Use or archives. A: i noticed that the more avante garde i was, the more accepted my work was by editors. they saw, ah yes, this is an essay, this is not reporting, its opinion. i invented it as a way of getting through the power structure. and i rather liked it.

Q: A: I am not a Marxist. My intellectual background is in the right, that’s not my politics, but i strongly believe tat ideas have consequences. yes there are other ideas at work. but the Iraq war was neo conservatives with revolution and batty ideas about how to reconstruct the middle east. not oil greed. their ideas didn’t turn out at all how they expected. often people write to me about Hegelian forces of history and oil, but i don’t think that’s it.

Q: how would you like to see change happen? A: if you are at the BBC, you are not allowed to tell people what to do, you are given a platform of one of the most powerful voices in the world, you must analyse the world, so others can decide how to make change happen.


Not factories, not people, but communities that make things

So whether you are IBM, which has one strategy about the commoditization of software, or you’re Hewlett-Packard, which has another, whatever your particular relationship to that reality is, everybody’s beginning to get it. In the 21st century economy, it isn’t factories and it isn’t people that make things — it’s communities.

Another great interview with Eben Moglen with an awesome final question:

Do you personally use much proprietary software today?

No, none. I have never been a Windows user. I have never used the Macintosh OS.


German RoboScribe

Picking through the blogosphere today after weeks of ignoring it, I found this interesting calligraphy experiment blogged by a Ravensbourne student :-)

Open Source Publishing Briefing in London

The Open Source Publishing group presented their work with free software design tools in London at the New Media Exchange last month, and I liveblogged - well, ‘live’, ahem - the event, and so here you go:

(Note for You: There appears to be some public interest in my lecture notes, that I take at all the various kinds of lectures that I attend, for my own learning. If there is anything incorrect, please email me and I will update the text, or add your comments or trackbacks as you’d like. Be aware that I type these conference notes for personal use, pretty much stream-of-conscious style, so my pronouns get all messed up and confuse comments from the speakers and myself, and my typing is not accurate so it is probably full of typos. I try to tidy things up when time allows. I’m also usually paying attention to email/rss and anything google-worthy that gets mentioned, so probably a lot of things are misquoted and not even true at all. Please, apply common sense and don’t take this for anything other than rough-cuts from a notebook; nothing here is reliable or a real quote of anyone, any errors or confusions are almost certainly mine, yet I hope you’ll find uses for it nonetheless… “A snowball rolls down the webhill!” as Fravia might say…)


{damn 20 minutes late but just got in for the introduction}

First we’ll talk about OSP, and then Then Mute and OpenMute.

Mute Magazine is using Scribus, and we’re looking at how designers and writers make editorial content, despite that its dispersed across the net. designers are facing new challenges with how work is spread out, unlike in print. So its about how to do web publishing and print at the time time (AWESOME)

So we did design-production work at a magazine, and recently doing more software production. lately we tried to design a book with OpenOffice. This isn’t over but its a good example to show.

And we’ll show how to install Scribus on Mac OS X. This is the designers choice of machine, and so it MUST work on that machine, but its hardest kind of machine to get it working on.

So, over to Femke to talk about Open Source Publishing.

Femke: I’m one of a group of 3 to 5, a group that is growing. Harrison Pierre and me formed a group of designers working under the name, OSP. We work under the wing of a Brussels arts & media institution. we have technical support from them, and also financial support. The time our work takes, it doesn’t always work out to get paid at typical rates or to get paid fr our experimental work.

we formed the team because were interested in design and software, and how these things come together. we’re intrigued by the possibilities of free software, and what we can do differently, and see what the software did to our work.

here are some design samples, that we did over the last year, just a few things to give an idea. here’s a record label done in Inkscape, an invite for an exhibition. all this work is made only with free software and also ONLY WITH FREE SOFTWARE FONTS, which means fonts you can open up and change around. a website, a weblog, some public artwork in Amsterdam. this is an aluminium plate; we test out how our output goes into other machines. this was using a plotter completely geared to proprietary CorelDraw files. so while free software can use standard formats, this was a problem. in the end we needed Illustrator to get it done. this is an art magazine, this is a longer project, working on the DIN typeface. it was released under a free license early, with an interesting motivation - it was a standard meant to travel fast - for Nazi Germany to expand and let its engineers work more efficiently. 6 months into this, we got a commission to work on an exhibition doing 50 years in Brussels; they’ll build a whole festival, and there’ll be a pavilion made of beer crates, and we’ll take up the project with DIN again and think about universal openness, software, and so on. This font will be used in the signage.

Constant is the institution we work under and we do work for them, their website and print work, here are some sample posters that some of you can take home! The process of getting a file printed is a long one, and getting things done can be tricky, and this is doubly so with free software.

so the kind of work we were making, copyleft activism, feminism, and it was a strange disconnect from the work we were doing and what was on our desktops. design for us is a way to discover the world we live in, and we got interested in projects with form and content both opened up.

Adobe has a slick advertising campaign at the moment “creative license, take as much as you want” but its a monopoly. we were creative, but the tools were closed and hermetic. we were meant to be different, express ourselves,but we were all the same; the freedom on offer was quite suffocating, actually.

Adobe CS selector asks you if you want to be an illustrator, a photographer, or a typographer. life isn’t as slick and simple as that! the software is powerful and well done, but now there is a monopoly, its not good. so we wanted to discover other ways. because we were in Constantin, we could take a risk and do something different. learning how to do something different was a big thing. we were so used to using adobe on OS x we didn’t even know what else was out there.

so we organised print parties, times to find new stuff and present it to our friends. exciting times! and a performative way to find things out, like how to do imposition on the command line; its exciting to see a process broken down and shown to you in language, converting from PDF to PS and back again, and when the printer runs its like a round of applause is there because you DID something, which is otherwise just clicking a button.

the stapler is the final moment. here we worked with Ivan Monroy Lopez who developed a way to use the API of Scribus (and we saw how underdeveloped the hooks into the program, but we could see the potential) so we made the story of the frog into the prince, to use the SVG engine of Scribus to do something form page to page, so we were trying to make a kind of performative piece. And we’d show it to the Scribus developers and they were like ‘wtf?’ and it was fun all round :)

so this is the adobe suite, where everything you want to do is in one package and its all the same. the software defines what we can - and can NOT - do. the language of the software feeds into the work that we make.

Next, we did an interview with the man who writes FontForge. George Williams. here he is. This interview is online, and here is the recording of his interview where he explains how he made his tool. Here is a screenshot of FontForge on mac OS X showing Gentium.

So he explains how he became interested in fonts here, through is father. And then he explained how he made a lot of money and affords a life making pots and doing primateological research.

Hes not interested in making his interface fit a design tool; but if you make a font with FontForge, he will be the first person to tell you what you need to know.

Q: So he makes FontForge? A: He is FontForge! :)

And next is Scribus. This is made by people in the printing word, and the focus is on the printers needs; the reliability of the tool, and so the community is focused that way; if you post a problem with PDF printing, you’ll get a reply in 10 minutes, but if you post a question about the python API, it may take days. So here is a screenshot of the mailing list in Thunderbird, and you can see the kinds of questions, from programming the tool to how to do design.

Its strange for designers to think about our tools in this way, to be co developers. and the developers are not designers themselves, so there is a need for cultural translation for these people to talk to each other. its too interesting to leave to developers, we want to help the work on our tools, and we are building bridges to make things come closer.

we’re not looking for the carbon copy of what we came form; we enjoy these differences. if we have the same, we’d be a it depressed in fact. free software is about collaboration and finding new ways of working. we’ve worked for a year and we’re still going, and starting to teach, showing how to do design in free software. not public ones, but private workshops, with other design studios.

its also changing our relation to clients; we are interested in how something is made as well as making it. we commit to our content, and engage more than just executing their design.

money is a god thing too. how can we charge to get bugs fixed today? and this is something we’re starting now, to think about this.

also, about typography, how will typography benefit from lessons of free software? the software-ness of type design, it seems like there’s a lot to gain; to think about typography in a very open public collaborative way. but then the culture of type design is also well established and has its own ways, so that has to be thought about too.

and now Simon talks about mute and OpenMute.

so in 2002-2004 we started OpenMute. we looked to support cultural activists and communities that might need web publishing tools, free software desktops and design tools. our interest is long term. finding this year, we’d seen OSP doing things with Scribus and we were interested and we tried it out for ourselves.

mute is a quarterly print magazine, and we moved our publishing model to something more participatory. here’s a mind map in FreeMind, QT on WinXP. So we found out about the issues with free software for design first hand. we were especially interested in print on demand; you send a PDF to a printers website and they generate prints of it, as little as a single editing, and the prints are made at the time of order.

so that was influencing our interests in what desktop software we were going to use. So POD changes the economy of things; when you get paid for writing and selling books. and books meta-data is accelerating in importance; even books content is bleeding out of the book, into Google books and amazon look inside and so on.

so that’s what mute and OpenMute have been looking at.

So, what is Scribus? its a layout program. it does what quark and InDesign do. its different, from GIMP and Inkscape. they, for me, they are kind of clones of the tools we are used to using. the menus are the same, you know where things are. Scribus is more quirky. OSP can tell more about this, they talk more to the developers, but Scribus likes to be technical and do things in certain ways. At a number of levels, how free software programs can make themselves acceptable to new users is to clone proprietary UIs.

What makes Scribus interesting is its scripting. although hath is there in Quark and InDesign. and the issue of where the content resides comes up. if you use a DTP application - even though Adobes suite looks to offer up various ways of doing things, its limited in terms of how you can get the content back out to a web server database, or how to import content from the web. so when you do the design, you make a amazing poster like this, but you also want the content to be structured and machine readable too. major industry tools are just making life easy for people and limiting the potential.

so Scribus is very interested in open standards, and it uses SVG graphics, ODT text documents, those kinds of thing. OSP had given me the confidence we could go NEAR Scribus.

So we have used kubuntu/Ubuntu, and are now moving over to a thin client gnu/Linux. we used VLC, FreeMind, Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird, open office. we are a business and can’t have things fail too much though, so moving to Scribus was a big worry. as was accountancy. there aren’t any good accountancy free software. small groups needs that. TurboCash looks quite cool, dutch, euros and pounds, looks good

Q: I know a pub who uses GNU Cash to do his books. A: What do they use? Q: They use GNU Cash. The guy is a Cambridge CS graduate, retired, so he knows whats up. Pembry Seven, in hackney

So we saw OSP using Scribus and that gave us confidence to use it. and earlier this year we got them to do a shadow version of the magazine in Scribus, after it was done in InDesign. so we got to the end of the shadowing, and i went to visit OSP in Brussels and they taught me how to use it, it was a bit of a trial of fire, we tried the new version that was a bit broken, so we went to and older stable version , and it all worked out well. so if were were doing a quarterly production cycle, we needed to know that the text blocks wouldn’t just around, that the PDFs were compliant with the right standards, and we looked at all the detailed elements of what you need to do Desktop Publishing. So we tested it all out and saw that it all really did work.

so i came back to the UK, and found it was a very reliable tool. no more system crashes than with any other complex layout program. it has nice features, the vector stuff is great. most issues were to do with habits. well, i used quark 1.0 in 1991, so you have a lot of habits and its hard to break out of them.

So we came to the end of the project and we found it was fine. So to round up on Scribus, we had a 2Nd tier on why were interested in it. were interested in print on demand, and web2pod. how to connect an application like Scribus to a blog database - automatically get the content off a website, strip off all the formatting, and do crazy things like automatically style the document and flow all the captions under the pictures and so on. so we were looking at the handover of a magazine to free software.

we dd a WordPress blog, and saw how to throw styling round a document. could be Drupal also.

Femke: its not just to go from web2pod, but to go back again. when you’re a small team, its a lot of work to make a website, and then get a print copy with the final corrections, and get those final versions back on the web in a native format. we’re not there yet, seamless back and forth.

Simon: yeah its ambitious and needs a lot of resource.s some things are maybe impossible. on the web, text is formatted different ways, all application have a different format and its not just a single problem to get the text formatted right. EG, a lot of time has to be spend getting content into a usable form without any styling, and then go through and style it again.

so i did the layout on this last issue all myself, and get others to pick up the tool too. And we need to report back to OSP with our latest experiences.

So, with the tools, there are lots of issues that can expand with other tools, Inksape, and GIMP integration, that can be expanded on, but our focus was with Scribus. we do our vectors with Inkscape and photos with gimp, but we mainly use Scribus. the on going focus, is the POD focus, getting that project up and running.

we did a test on metamute.org and you can select the content from the website and generate a PDF on the fly. Mute is the first UK magazine to use Scribus. Le Tigre is using Scribus in France, from 2 years ago, and they are very brave. its now much more user friendly.



and now its Laura

Laura: I made a book using OpenOffice instead of a DTP app, because I had little time, and it was an academic text with a lot of footnotes. I didn’t want to do it by hand with quark express. and we wanted to help clients who want to do books but cant afford a designer.

so i used OpenOffice, and i found it a pleasant experience. i built a template, styles for the elements of the page. placing pictures was hard because they are embedded int the text flow, like Word too, so the picture can jump over the page and so on.

So if you have an text-heavy book, and the layout doesn’t have to be too fancy, OpenOffice good. if its more picture based, its not so useful a tool.

it automatically understands what chapter you are in and has a variable for the folios so it maintains the chapter text appropriated. And the footnotes are done automatically. you can set up left and right hand pages, and it sets it all up.

Q: Do people use this in the academic world? A: No, people use latex a lot.

Femke: LaTeX is clever about understanding the size of the page and the typography, but OpenOffice doesn’t get this so well, which is why the pictures can jump around.

Q: Its like websites that separate design and content. LaTeX lets you do that very clearly; OpenOffice is more for composting text, writing it, and you’d use another tool to make the layout.

Femke: Yes, an editor can generate text and that can be quite precisely imported into OpenOffice. its a more web like way of working yes.

Q: Its called “loosely coupling” in programming. architecturally things make more sense that way. Femke: Yes, Scribus is implementing hierarchical style sheets at the moment and that will improve this.


Harrison: Pierre is a very good designer with proprietary software, and he is moving into this free software world. we cleaned his OS X laptop and we are experimenting with him, getting free software on his machine; it only lasted 2 hours and we thought it would take a day. Free software is more and more easy to install, and we wanted to testify that its possible to install easily Scribus in OS X.

Pierre: so here is the regular dock of a designer, and the first thing is to get a Mac OS X installation DVD, as the X11 application is only available on that disc. Or from a students website ;) Today we made a big list of how to install free software for design on OS X that will be a big recipe book.

So when X11 is installed, everything works quite well. Here is GIMP, here is Inkscape. Inkscape is great because it has this XML view of the document that you can edit. And here is Scribus (GhostScript isn’t installed yet, but it will surrender tomorrow! ;)

{{Gimp has a strange OS X like GTK these, and Scribus has the

And here is FontForge.

And here is the OSP blog. we explain how we do things, little things and longer recipes.


We did this project and used Batik to made blurred images automatically, and Scribus is very conservative and says all the possible problems and risky areas that can effect printing. and we didn’t have that

Q: installing all this on a mac, is the problem, the time installing X11, or is it problems with Scribus? Harrison: Installers almost always appear as DMGs, and X11 is such a DMG. Then its easy to install things. Installing GhostScript and the Python libraries are more difficult;

Q: I know academic use lots of footnotes; you can get Xtensions that make Quark to it properly. If Scribus and OpenOffice work together well, will footnotes come across well. Simon: ODT format, so yeah it will happen at some point, Femke: there is a lot of talk about getting that sorted out

Q: I think using a live CD and seeing things on GNU/Linux is much better than messing around with installing free software on a proprietary OS.

Q: The reasons why free software sucks on the mac, is the mac community is lame; on other platforms people package things up so they can work. apple users just go to regent st and buy expensive products. The tools effects the process,and as new media goes out into the web, and many formats are used, the old ways of doing things don’t scale up. we need to be smarter about how to process information, and that can’t be done on a GUI.

Q: I’m an artist, then a designer, and I’m interested in what you’re saying about getting to grip with the process, getting away from limitations is good. but to do certain things quickly and efficiently often requires proprietary software.

Q: I’m saying design isn’t just moving things around on a screen. I build networks, and with computers, you learn repetition can be automated. as a sysadmin, I look at what I do, and what makes it unique, and whatever you do, you need to be re-factoring what you do.

A: I agree, but my tool is my brain, and the re-factoring happens “up here”.

Femke: Why we show different stages or ways of doing things? We all deal with different software. I use GNU/Linux and nothing else, Humin is more experienced than me, and Pierre is a newbie. The way we work, its not a quick flip. We need to learn ways of doing things and how we work. How does the design change when you use Scribus? How can you work “with” Scribus instead of against it. And although I am exciting about working with a command line, and moving away from glossy transparencies, its hard to work visually there, its all based on in-out. With software, There’s always a back and forth ,you can see this with Inkscape and its XML editor; you combine the visual and the code interfaces. To see what makes a circle round, or blue, and that’s how more interesting design can happen.

Q: To say the command line isn’t visually, its like saying language isn’t visual; its the way you use it. Vi is very visual; its the visual editor.

Q: I’m a designer originally, moved more toward programming. Femke is investigating in a GUI, and it gives you a chance to look into the mechanics and you’ll create beautiful things that are different and that you’ll never make with Adobe kit.

Q: I have questions Abbot Scribus. Fonts. Choosing fonts that work reliably. You said you only used free software fonts. Did you publish that list and what do you recommend? I found difficulty with fonts that look good on screen, print on my printers okay, but problems at the print shop. A: We don’t have a well organised list published, but there are lists available. I think in the next few years there will be lots of very high quality free fonts. And Scribus is very picky about what it will use; it checks fonts for problems and will not load them. If you find a problem with a Scribus file in a print shop, post on the list and within 10 minutes you’ll have someone helping you.

Q: Also, using quark and the usability. I use quark, and productivity especially with text handling, its keyboard oriented, Ive found it hard to switch over to Scribus. it insists on using the story editor. i can see how it helps the automated work flow, but its awkward to edit text in a hurry in a galley. Are there ways to map keyboard shortcuts? A: Yes, the story editor is strange for designers, and Scribus isn’t totally fluid, changes in the story editor might not make it to the final thing. canvas editing needs improvement, and designers involved are really those in large scale publishing projects an they are used to a large cycle of work where everything is prepared well before it gets to layout.

Q: You mentioned how tools influence the designer? Femke: The way flash handles curves and cut outs. Its defined a way we make posters and visuals. Its made possible by the way curves, layering, are done in the machine. Inkscape has a different way of handling curves, and you get new results. I could see something done in quark or InDesign, by looking at it. You can make the same thing, of course,e by the defaults of the programs usually shine through. These tools move you in a certain way, and in itself that’s not a problem but the problem is when there are no alternative tools; how do you see the water when you are a fish? You cant understand a tool at all when its the only one you use.

Q: So did you change the design of Mute in the switch? Simon: Not yet, but we will. our experiences with OSP, their sensibility, influences it. And you need to think about what you do before you do it with Scribus. you have to be perhaps cautious, think about things. today. at the moment we are really just trying to get things done.

Q: It looks like the early days of Quark, Quark 1, but a bit different Simon: There’s a need to get things done efficiently, and you need that freedom to experiment. As we do more design work, we’ll see more about what Scribus can do. we’re interested in generative aspects too.

Q: having changed to Scribus, can you open quark documents? When InDesign came along, there was a big conversation about this. People with portfolios need A: No, you can’t, but you aren’t locked in to Scribus documents like you are with proprietary ones, you can always open previous document, and the software will always be available so you can just load up older versions.


Simon: So that’s it tonight, soon we’ll do some workshops on how to install your free software on your machines.

Thinkpad Scroll Button

Here’s the xorg.org configuration needed to get the Thinkpad scroll button to work:

Section “InputDevice” Driver “mouse” Identifier “Scroller” Option “Buttons” “5″ Option “Device” “/dev/input/mice” Option “Name” “TPPS/2 IBM TrackPoint” Option “Protocol” “explorerps/2″ Option “Emulate3Buttons” “on” Option “Emulate3TimeOut” “50″ Option “EmulateWheel” “on” Option “EmulateWheelTimeOut” “200″ Option “EmulateWheelButton” “2″ Option “Vendor” “Sysp” Option “ZAxisMapping” “4 5″ EndSection

HOWTO Stream A Conference With Free Software

Wingolog has an excellent tutorial on how to stream a conference (GUADEC 2006, in this case) with free software. Cool!

“Print is dead.” said Egon Spengler

The classic “Print is dead” discussion came up today in Gerard’s class, the way kids will grow up reading primarily on screens, and brainjacks not being far off - which seemed outlandish to some. I thought of Wired back in 2002:

Bionic Eye on Wired Cover from 2002

GNU.org Redesigned!

A redesign of http://www.gnu.org/ went live!

OLPC Sugar LiveCD!

We can now download a Xubuntu LiveCD with OLPC Sugar interface - download, burn to CD, log in as the user “ubuntu” with the “sugar” session. Sadly TamTam and eToys aren’t in there yet, but the rest of the system is there.

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