Sunday, January 24, 2010

Successful community funded (marketing) projects?

I'd like to ask all Ubuntu LoCo's and other GNU/Linux groups what experiences they've had with community-run projects, specifically with marketing projects and especially regarding funding. What are some good examples of successful projects? What advice and tips can you offer? Please post in the comments and/or contribute to the LoCo Fundraising page on the Ubuntu wiki, part of the FOSS Activism Guide.

If you haven't heard enough about it already, the Ubuntu @ Anime Boston effort is coming along well, but it's been difficult to keep momentum and get the donations we need. We're just about two thirds of the way to our minimum target of $2200 which covers our two primary goals of $700 for a booth at the convention and associated costs, and $1500 for printed materials. This is enough to print informational flyers about FOSS, Ubuntu, and the Massachusetts Local Community Team, plus 2000 copies of the Ubunchu Manga. Every additional $300 after we meet our goal will double the number of issues we can print.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

€35 ($50) if you package Yo Frankie!

Yo Frankie, the Blender Foundation's Apricot Open Game Project, is probably the best example so far of FOSS 3D gaming. Nexuiz is up there as well, but Yo Frankie is an important title which shows what can be be done using entirely FOSS tools with limited time and resources when you have a solid development model. It is a testament that Free games and Free content, like the films produced by the Blender Institute's Open Movie Projects, can (and will) succeed!

Sadly, even though Yo Frankie was released during the Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) release cycle back in 2008, it is now over a year later with Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) coming up and Yo Frankie is yet to be packaged for Debian/Ubuntu. COfundOS, which uses the threshold pledge system to create a monetary incentive for a specific task be fulfilled for a Free software project, currently has €35 or $50 waiting for whoever is willing to package this software! Isn't anybody up to the task?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Download Disobedience, pro-piracy campaign

We're all pirates. The situation is similar to that of marijuana use, but even worse. Not everyone smokes pot (i personally don't), and policy reform seems to finally be coming along now. Piracy on the other hand, is something hardly anyone isn't "guilty" of, including anti-piracy and copyright advocacy groups, yet public awareness isn't rising and it seems nothing is being done about it.

I would like to announce the Download Disobedience campaign which aims to raise awareness of the misinformation concerning piracy, dispel myths, and spread the truth about copyright and other forms of intellectual property by and while encouraging the act of piracy as a civil disobedience. I've chosen to host the project on the infoAnarchy wiki which was co-founded by Erik Möller, Deputy Director of the Wikimedia Foundation.

There are currently two ways to get involved with the campaign. Firstly, i have created a couple of flyers that can be distributed in the real world. One is a general handout which provides lots of information about piracy and debunks many myths surrounding it all in bullet form. The other is targeted towards US universities and reads as a letter to school administration while meant for circulation by students. It contains some of the information from the first flyer and tells students to download as a civil disobedience. I also used a comic along with some action ideas for a page which can be used as the back side of either flyer. I hope some artist will come along and "steal" them to pretty them up! Please print them out and hit the streets.

Secondly, you can make your opinion known and raise awareness of the issue by singing Happy Birthday against copyright. Time Warner claims to own the copyright to "Happy Birthday" so it is actually illegal to sing it in public unless royalties are paid. Post recordings of yourself singing the happy birthday song to YouTube and other social media sites as a protest against copyright insanity. Here's mine:

Sex in the Pink

I'm starting a new BayWords blog, Sex in the Pink: Healthy thoughts on fucking. I do not recommend subscribing if you do not want to learn, beyond just textually, very intimate aspects of myself and others, but if you are a fellow sex-positive who has seen how insane our faux-abstinent, sexting-enraged, pedophile-hunting, child-arresting society has become, please follow along and send me a message if you have anything you'd like to contribute!

On a somewhat related note, i created a this graphic representing "love outside the box" to be used for polyamory, non-monogamy, and LQBTQ. The image is a line beginning as a box representing heteronormativity which continues outwards to form a classic symbol of love. I created this primarily for polyamory as i noticed most of their symbols weren't very elegant. Already, it looks like it won't be needed as the purple mobius by Joreth InnKeeper makes for a much better symbol (but someone needs to vectorize it). My image may be interpreted to put heteronormativity at the heart of love, which was obviously not my intention. It still wouldn't look too bad on t-shirts.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

YouTube 2.0 needs your input!

YouTube hasn't changed much since it was first acquired by Google in 2006, but YouTube 2.0 might finally be arriving as according to their blog, "spring cleaning" is coming early for them. Funny how this announcement comes shortly after they revised the terms of the On2 merger. They're opening up for ideas and i hope you'll take the time to vote (requires Google Account login) for HTML5 support with open formats as well as ending the one-channel-per-user paradigm. The blog post seems to be focusing on just fixing what's broken, but i hope to see a lot more from them. I can sense a subtle hinting towards greater changes, so this could very well be an exciting development!

Update: Wow, HTML5 with Free formats immediately jumped to the #1 spot and has maintained twice as many votes as the next-highest item! It currently has 584 votes.

Update: Holy crap! Not only is my submission still in first with over 5100 votes, but others have submitted similar suggestions as well and HTML5 is completely dominating the vote with 9 out of the top 10 ideas! I wonder if this can make it to Slashdot too... my submission.

Update: Google is going to seriously hate me if they weren't already planning on implementing HTML5 with Free and Open formats. I made Slashdot, and my idea now has over 11500 votes!

Update: WE DID IT!!! We've gotten an official response from Google, as pointed out by MrMcQ2u in the comments:
"We've heard a lot of feedback around supporting HTML5 and are working hard to meet your request, so stay tuned. We'll be following up when we have more information. We're answering this idea now because there are so many similar HTML5 ideas and we want to give other ideas a chance to be seen." That response was from mia on the youtube team.. Seems like they have closed that request so that other non html 5 requests have a chance to be seen :D I think this deserves an update to the blog :D

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

End Institutionalized Corruption FIRST

The hugely popular YouTube vlogger known as TheAmazingAtheist recently held a few auctions on eBay to raise money for his Free Speech Vids project. Similar to The Video Bay, it aims to showcase videos too dangerous for the family(and DMCA)-friendly YouTube. For $102.50, i won this auction:
The Amazing Atheist is auctioning off his autoplaying featured video to the highest bidder. Got a great video that you want to get thousands of legitimate views? Here is your answer. Videos featured on my playlist often get upwards of 10k views a week. Two weeks featured on my channel could get your video seen 20,000 times!
My video, titled "End Institutionalized Corruption FIRST", should be up for at least a week although the description suggests two. Either way, i'm very happy to win this spot and contribute to FSV, so thanks TJ. Watch the video and let me know what you think, and please rate, favorite, pass it on, whatever! Subscribe to my channel =]

Lojban featured on BBC Radio 4's "Word of Mouth"!

Today's segment was on artificial or constructed languages. It was very refreshing that they did not give the entire show to Esperanto and actually spent a fair bit speaking with Colin Fine about lojban, the best invented language as we here know. Follow the link to have a listen!
Lojban starts at 9:49

Liveblogging the Nexus One (Google Phone) Press Conference!

Thanks to Philipp of Blogoscoped for sharing access to the private webstream of the press conference with a few of us! For those of you who find it more convenient to follow on Identica or Twitter, you can follow me there, thanks.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

My college essay on the problems with school

My gap year has been going well, but i've decided to apply to school at Hampshire College. Here's the essay i sent in. Let me know what you think and feel free to tear it apart =]
Thoughts on school 
I'm not sure when it happened; perhaps it was a gradual transition. By the time I reached my senior year of high school, I had developed a passionate dislike for my educational experience. While my interest in school declined, my love of learning did not, and I sought education outside the classroom. My feelings are not just some slacker's discontent. They are a burning opposition to the unfair and ineffective education model, a model which has lacked any substantial innovation since its inception in ancient times. Being confronted with the increasing pressure to do what every high school student is expected to do has forced me to be able to articulate and reconcile my thoughts toward modern institutionalized education. I did not let my opposition to this system stop me from applying to college in order to try to improve it and gain what experience I can.
A fundamental problem with this conventional approach to education is concisely summed up in two lines of dialogue from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle.
"Self-taught, are you?" Julian Castle asked Newt.
"Isn't everybody?" Newt inquired.
From my perspective, school often got in the way of its own purpose. Contrary to the popular quote attributed to Mark Twain, I felt unable to keep from letting schooling get in the way of my education. Meaningless letters on pieces of paper were no motivation for me as I watched many students cheat their way through school. In this place, success was determined not by capability or effort, but by willingness and ability to play the game better than everyone else. Students, teachers, and undoubtedly the administration were all aware that the entire system is a game. How can this be a widely accepted reality? Conformity to an unnatural learning environment should not be a primary factor in one's academic success.
I learned much more from pursuing my own interests outside of school than I ever did from sitting in a classroom. Class assignments seemed to be for someone else's approval, rather than for the learning experience. I devoted most of my time instead to projects outside of school. I was able to become more than just a consumer. I became a creator. I contributed countless hours to various projects by writing or creating materials, and maintained a somewhat well-read blog, which even provided me with a small income. The people who I have been able to reach out to, from an executive at a Fortune 500 company to nomadic radical activists, have broadened my perspectives and served as invaluable connections. Outside of school, I motivated myself to work tirelessly, but in school the subjects which would normally interest me were forced upon me.
Nobody should be expected to force themselves to conform to this inadequate schooling system. A system should conform to the needs of those subject to it, not contrariwise. A government should conform to its people, a school to its students, a prison to its prisoners. Otherwise, the system is just a mold producing molds.
I don't claim to know exactly how the ideal school system would be designed, or even if such a thing exists, but I do believe our age-old system fails to fulfill the needs of students. Take grades, for example. Should they be based on quality or perhaps effort? How can they be kept accurate and unbiased? Even more basic than grades is the question of what purpose do schools serve. My own Newton North High School avoids this question in their mission statement with the empty slogan "Learning sustains the human spirit". Should schools be producing skilled workers, good citizens, or freethinking creatives Should the curriculum be broad or narrow? The generally accepted purpose, however vague it may remain, seems to be to prepare pupils for "the future". Yet, in a world which is continuously changing drastically, this seems to be the wrong job for a stagnant institution which has always been stuck, rooted in the past. It may not be possible to find answers to all of these questions, but a solution that answers none of them is not a solution at all. Education needs to be rethought from the ground up, keeping all of these questions in mind in order to effectively reinvent the structure of the system.
Deciding to apply to college has forced me to balance my ideals. When I was a young child, I made a promise to myself and embarked on an ambitious mission. I would better myself in order to better the world. I would strive to have the greatest possible positive impact; from a global level down to every individual I would encounter. I have been torn between rejecting outright a system that propagates an unhealthy reliance on meaningless standards, or taking advantage of the system in order to oppose it. My decision to apply is to keep the opportunity open for me. My desire to attend is not to acquire some degree, but for my own experience in order to fulfill my promise. I can not be confident that I will be accepted, but I can be confident that I will always make the most of my learning opportunities.
On a related note, you may be interested in this TED Talk by Ken Robinson on schools killing creativity.