- How Headphones Changed the World – "A short philosophical history of personal music", at The Atlantic
- Amanda Palmer And Steve Albini On ‘Piracy’: It Only Helps Musicians – Surprise! (NB: not actually surprising) Steve Albini "rejects the term piracy" and thinks sharing music for free helps musicians, especially those who tour and play lots of live gigs. BTW, if you've never read Steve's rant about where money goes when you sign with a major label (linked from this article) then you definitely should.
- A respose to Tom Tom’s OSM FUD – Tom Tom (the satnav provider) tries to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about OpenStreetMap; here's a great takedown of their claims. Via David Gerard.
- Commodore 64 Bass Guitar by Jeri Ellsworth – A bass guitar made out of an old C64. Nuff said.
- Internet Arbitration | Judge.me – I honestly don't know whether this is an excellent disruption of a broken system, or a sign that we're heading even faster into an SFnal dystopian future. The fact you can pay by bitcoin makes me think the latter's more likely.
- Ravelry API – Wait, what? How did I miss this. Ravelry has an API now, and they've been using it internally since Feb 2012, so it isn't just an unloved add-on. (You probably can't follow the link, which is to the Rav API forum, unless you're a member. But anyone who might be interested in this probably is already, so…)
- Our real first gay president – Newsweek says Obama's the US's "first gay president", ignoring James Buchanan, who was openly gay in the 19th century. This article has some great context and thoughts on the ideology of progress. "Remembering that James Buchanan was homosexual complexifies our national narrative, to be sure, but it is a complexity that we need."
- The world’s hottest digital markets: a music map – Interesting… this map is trying to show you digital music services' market share worldwide, but it also lets you see which digital music services are available in which countries.
- Welcome to Life « Tom Scott – A science fiction story about what you see when you die. Or: the Singularity, ruined by lawyers.
- The Bombay Royale – Karle Pyar Karle – Check out The Bombay Royale. They're a Melbourne band (including some recent graduates from my school) who play surf/disco/funk/Bollywood fusion, and apparently they've got a gig at the HiFi Bar on Swanston Street this Saturday. I'm planning on going.
I just realised the other day that it’s been very nearly a whole year since I announced what I called “The Plan”: leaving Google and the tech industry, returning to Australia, and taking up sound engineering as a profession.
I’ve spent a lot of the last year offline, sometimes in an intentional effort to get away from it all, and sometimes through happenstance, when other interests and activities have limited me to the small peephole to the Internet provided by my phone. In many ways it’s been good to disconnect, if only because it saves this happening every night:
On the other hand, I’ve felt pretty disconnected from what’s going on in the world, and it’s definitely been hard on many of the (primarily online) friendships I’ve built over the last two decades. (More on that shortly, I think.)
The other day, as I was sitting around on the sofa clicking refresh on half a dozen browser windows, I found myself thinking (as I so often have over this last year) that I should get up and do something offline, since the Internet was so dull. I’ve been telling myself this a lot over the last year. Then I caught myself and said, “Wait a minute…” See, there was a time when I actually enjoyed being online, talking to people, sharing ideas, being creative, being inspired, connecting with strangers and broadening my horizons. It’s been one of the best things in my adult life. I didn’t always have this feeling of exhausted passivity, of feeling like I ought to keep up, but not really being interested in the stuff that’s being shovelled through the intertubes to my bleary, sandpapery eyeballs.
So, fuck it, it’s time to be active on the Internet again, participate, create, do stuff rather than just consuming. To give myself a bit of focus in my renewed Internet life, I’m relaunching this blog. A new leaf — hopefully a series of new leaves — and with any luck I’ll be able to write something interesting on each one.
The mechanics of it:
- All the old articles on this blog have been moved to The Attic. You can still find them there if you need them for archival purposes or whatever.
- The subject matter? Anything and everything. For a while I tried to keep my personal website “professional” but I’m not even sure what that means any more. So, the gates are wide open. You can expect to see posts on a wide range of topics.
- I’m attempting to optimise the the blog’s setup for comments/conversations/discussions, and I’ll be making an effort to encourage and nurture them; let me know what how it goes and whether you can think of any areas for improvement.
- I’m instituting a comment policy, which I hope won’t be onerous, but which I hope will keep the discussion threads here pleasant for all involved. I’ll post the details shortly.
I think that’s about it. I hope this’ll help me reconnect with at least some of my Internet peeps, and meet a bunch of new ones. Let me know what you think, and in the meantime, feel free to tell me what you’ve been up to in the last year.
I’ve been having this conversation a bit lately so I just wanted to put it out there.
From 1998-2007 I worked full time in open source software. I considered myself a member of the open source community. Open source was kind of my “thing”.
This is no longer true.
I still use open source software extensively (I’m writing this in WordPress, using Mozilla on Gnome on Ubuntu), but then, so does everyone, whether they know it or not. Sometime around the early 2000s, Linux and other open source software stopped being a fringe, weirdo thing and started just being a sensible choice for most Internet projects. And since almost everything’s on the Internet these days, well, open source is just something that is.
To put it another way: if the open source movement were a software project, I’d say that software project is in maintenance mode. It’s out there, it has widespread adoption, and while there’s still work to be done, it’s more the ongoing work of keeping things going than the initial big push to get it launched. And I’m not much good at maintenance projects.
So what am I doing these days? When people ask me I usually say, “Open… stuff.” And then I wave my hands a bit. In my day job with Freebase I mostly work with open data. But I’m also interested in those sort of open principles as they’re applied to other aspects of our lives.
A short list of things I consider to fall under the umbrella of “open stuff”:
- Intellectual property reform and alternatives to the current copyright system (eg. Creative Commons, anti-DMCA efforts, etc.)
- Increased access to knowledge, information, and art (Wikipedia, open access journals, Scarleteen)
- Decentralised social networking platforms (StatusNet, Diaspora)
- Radical online collaboration and novel ways for groups to work together online (Wikipedia, of course, but also Anonymous, which I think is fascinating and important even if I mostly disagree with them)
- Using technology to connect and empower members of marginalised groups (Genderplayful Marketplace, disability hacking)
- Using the Internet for social change and grassroots political activism (too many to list, but #jan25 seems timely)
- Non-traditional, non-hierarchical ways of working on projects (Agile, consensus-driven, anarchic)
- Grass-roots, community-run, egalitarian events (unconferences and the like)
- Unofficial/unlicensed fan activities, especially creative/critical/transformative fanworks and the communities around them (Organization for Transformative Works, vidding, scanlation)
- Small-business and micro-entrepreneurial activities on the Internet, especially as they enable independent artists/writers/musicians/creators (Etsy, Kickstarter, Bandcamp)
There’s more, of course, but all those are things that excite me. It feels like there’s something broader there — not just software, but a whole cluster of Internet-related things that are about giving people more options, more ways to express themselves, more ways to make a difference, more ways to (at the risk of sounding a bit woo-woo) realise their potential. Ideally while not being beholden to, or at the risk of being shut down by, any one corporation or government or institution.
Of course open source software is a part of this, but I don’t think it’s the only part, and it’s definitely not the leading or most important part for me any more. So, if you invite me to speak or write or come to an open source event or whatever, and I say “I don’t really work in open source any more,” this is what I’m talking about. Hope that makes sense.
(That said, if you read this and you’d still like me to speak/write/attend your open source thing and talk about “open stuff” in a more general sense, let me know.)