Year of Open Source

One year of trying to use only free software, libre hardware, and option source options for all aspects of life.


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THANK YOU!

[UPDATE] The IndieGoGo campaign has come to an end, and thanks to generosity of 134 lovely people, we raised $6,731!

That’s enough for me to be able to focus on this project for the year, pay for plenty of materials required, and I don’t have to spend as much time working on other jobs. I’ll send out the Copyleft Cookies recipe and an update email in the next couple of days, and the other perks will follow in the next couple of weeks. Thank you so much to all who helped out,  and if you like you can see who all these wonderful supporters were.

What is the Year of Open Source?

From August 2012, I’m trying to live Open Source for a year – avoiding traditionally copyrighted products, using products released under open licenses, or adapting or developing my own.

I plan to use myself as a subject in an experiment to canvas the range of open source ideas and products, search out and discuss ways around traditional licensing, and see how the ideas of free software, libre hardware and openness can affect different areas of everyday life.
In every aspect of my life, from the clothes I wear to the film equipment and appliances I use, I will be looking for and switching to open source alternatives, in hardware, software and services, documenting everything in order to show as many people as possible the many directions and applications of this way of thinking.

If you missed the crowdfunding campaign but would still like to contribute, please consider a small donation through Flattr

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Open Source Undies?

In hardware, Open Source techniques (collaborative working, sharing experiences and experiments, transparency in production) are designed to democratise the design and production process. To take what traditionally was a difficult and expensive task done only by experts, and provide the tools and methods to make it more accessible, faster, and more efficient.

Not all aspects of my life will provide great opportunity for open source improvement, however – particularly anything that already is fast, cheap, and easy to produce. For example, anyone can produce their own toothpaste in the same time it would take to brush their teeth. Here’s proof:

(this video is my first attempt at using open source editing software- OpenShot. It’s basic, but everything was easy to work out!)

To make toothpaste there’s no special equipment needed, no expensive materials. This recipe is just a variation on the WikiHow one: 80ml baking powder (NaHCO3.), 30ml hydrogen peroxide solution (3%, H2O2), 10ml glycerin (C3H8O3) (or you can use xylitol – C5H12O5), 2 drops peppermint oil. You can get hydrogen peroxide, peppermint oil and glycerin at most pharmacies. There’s not a great deal of variation or strong opinion on different toothpaste flavours, so although I’ll be using this open source version throughout the year, I’m not expecting others to get excited about it.

But what about more complicated matters? What about open source underwear?

I’m somewhat worried – I haven’t threaded a needle since the horrific experience of winning the school prize for sewing when I was 11 – it was a co-ed school, and my gigantic tribal beach baggies had for some reason impressed the judges. But I don’t just want to make undies for the sake of undies – I’m interested in seeing how Open Source methods can change clothing production.

There are already interesting ideas in the world of fashion with regards to crowdsourcing and technological innovation, and there are people working collaboratively and sharing their designs with others.

My thinking is based on the simple idea that not everybody is a perfect small, medium, or large. Most people are not shaped like shopping mall mannequins. Even mannequins only fit their clothes because they’re pinned at the back. My chicken ankles make any pants other than stovepipes flap listlessly like spinnakers. My shoulders wouldn’t even look broad in an ’80s power suit, and I think my hips are wider than my chest. While a fit 60-year-old might proudly boast ‘I have the physique of someone half my age‘ it’s not ideal for a 28-year old. I’m not worried about my body shape, it’s just an inconvenience when looking for clothes.

One of Da Vinci’s lesser known drafts, before he really nailed that circle.

But if I were to go to a shopping mall on the hunt for a jacket, I’d have to hope that one of these multi-national chains happened to have a style I like, that suits my body shape, and doesn’t have any stupid piping, or contrast-coloured zips, or whatever else the mass-produced version of this season’s style is.

So finding something I like is already an unlikely proposition, even before thinking about the sizes available. Instead of finding just the right jacket for me, I might end up buying 2 or 3 articles on sale (‘saving’ money) which aren’t necessarily quite the right style, colour or fit.

It also seems that manufacturing clothing in the countries with the lowest wages and then shipping it in bulk to the countries with the highest incomes is hardly an agile system, and difficult to achieve efficiently. We’ve taken this frustration of clothes shopping for granted for a very, very long time. But what other option is there? Tailoring is too expensive, and making things yourself is too difficult, right?

Well, one goal of my project is to get people to consider how an open source method might work in different areas, and I think there are plenty of opportunities in clothing.

For example:

-Imagine an online community, (kind of like a thingiverse version of openwear), where people could share their designs freely with others. These designs would be electronic patterns, readable by a software program.

A user could download a pattern, alter its design to their own taste, and release it back to the community as well.

-If this software program could parametrically alter the designs – for example, if I took my chest, neck, waist and arm measurements as inputs, the program could calculate the necessary changes to the pattern and provide the correctly shaped and sized pieces to be cut out.

-On a private section of your online profile you would have all of your measurements recorded so you could instantly adapt any pattern to fit. (Of course, your measurements might need to be adjusted should you switch to a Paula Deen-inspired diet.)

-Then you would be able to print and cut out the design to sew together. This could be done in a low-tech manner (print out on paper, pin to material, cut out with scissors) or a mid-tech manner (use a computer-controlled plotter to draw the design on material, cut out with scissors) or a high-tech manner (a computer-controlled laser cuts the parts directly)

Now this idea does not solve all the difficulty of actually designing or sewing the clothes, but the focus is on removing or streamlining the computational aspect of a tailor’s work, and leaving more time for creativity in design and high-quality crafting.

In order to illustrate the concept I would like to make my own boxer shorts. I’ve chosen boxer shorts because they’re one of the simpler articles of men’s clothing, and they really only have one key measurement – the waist. There’s generally a bit of give and take in terms of the length and leg circumference of boxer shorts, and I’m sure you could adjust them in a ratio with the waist measurement.

Is anybody keen to help me? I’m not trying to build a huge software program, just develop or adapt:

-a boxer short design (I guess in vector graphic format?)

-an equation which would adjust the size of pieces in accordance with the waist measurement

-a way of linking these together.

Who’s in? There’s a perfectly-fitting pair of boxer shorts in it for you…

Send me an email (sam at yearofopensource.net) or just come along to Open Design City at 7pm on Monday, to discuss the future of undies, to take part in a few activities, play with textiles, work out some techniques/methods we could use, and meet some other interesting folk.

We’ll be discussing, visualizing and quickly prototyping our ideas, focusing on the following core questions:

– democratizing design – how can people without a fashion design background bring their ideas into their garments?
-democratizing manufacture – how can people without a background in sewing put clothing together themselves?
– what possibilities are there for open source development in the field of smart fabrics etc?
– how can current clothing distribution models be improved and updated?
-how could collaboration and community sharing work in a fashion/clothing context?

People of all backgrounds and interests are welcome.

This is a preliminary brainstorming session – in a few weeks we’ll be putting some of our ideas into action at a further workshop.

19.00 Monday 13th August, Open Design City, Prinzessinnenstr. 19-20, Kreuzberg.

Let me know what you think in the comments – could this kind of clothing system work? is there anything like it already? is the future for open source toothpaste really as dead as I assume?


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Ways you can help!

Thanks for all the messages of support over the last couple of days, although the initial crowdfunding campaign has finished, you can now donate using flattr and BitCoin (my address is 1EFmHdKYV5oEx9wfT67MvARgyjaB9SahTv -there will be proper buttons & links etc on the new website up tomorrow). I’ve quit my part-time job to focus on this full-time, but I’m only just scraping by!

If you like the idea of the project and would like to help out, there is all sorts of non-financial help that I need:

I would like to make the project accessible to non-English speakers, so if you can help me with translation of videos or texts into your language, please let me know! I can provide transcripts to each video as they come out. I’ll be filming in various parts of Europe over the year – I can translate from Spanish or German into English, but not the other way around – I wouldn’t want viewers to have to put up with my crappy grammar errors.

Any suggestions for a good online video multi-language subtitling resource?

I don’t have the resources to be able to buy an open source phone, computer or camera, or even to buy the parts and put them together. If anyone can sponsor me with an open source product, or if you know anybody developing an interesting open source hardware project who might need some publicity, I would love to be able to at least borrow a test version to play with and discuss, even if only for a month or two.

If you’re based in Berlin, there are plenty of ways you can help. If you:

a) have some experience shooting with Canon DSLRs, or would like to learn

b) have some editing experience or would like to learn, and are keen to join me in getting to grips with open source NLEs

c) are experienced with Blender and would like to show off your skills (and Blender’s capabilities) with a little animation/compositing

d) have experience with open source audio programs and sound recording

e) are good at organizing and planning, and could help me make a timeline and organise some projects, visits and interviews to help me tackle this huge task (Native speakers of German would also be very helpful).

Berliners, you can also come down to Open Design City in Kreuzberg on Monday night at 19.00.  Come meet others interested in open source making and have a brainstorm about projects we can undertake throughout the year. There will be snacks. I’ll post more info tonight!

There are plenty of other ways people might be able to help, just send me an email if you think of something you can offer. The more skilled people who can help in any way, the better this project can be. If someone you know might be able to help me out, tell them to get in touch! I want it to be as far-reaching, entertaining and thought-provoking as possible, and I can only do so with your help. Thank you very much for all the suggestions so far, we’re currently working on turning this blog into a navigable, multi-functional website, so keep checking back!

in the meantime, feel free to contact me: sam at yearofopensource.net


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This last open source hero sure can fill out a speedo…

9 hours to go, and the IndieGoGo campaign is just over $6600! thanks so much to everyone who has contributed so far, it has been an amazing experience getting the word out and hearing back from so many helpful and generous people around the world.

So, who’s the last open source hero going to be…? wait for it…

it’s….

the community!

aww.

Open Source users, developers, writers, funders, engineers, and organisations, drawn by Judith Carnaby for the 2013 Open Source Calendar (Swimsuit edition)

There are enough dedicated and inspired individuals working, discussing and tinkering on open source projects to fill thousands of calendars. We’ve tried to highlight some of the core individuals leading by example and spreading the word about open source, but the movement’s greatest asset is and has always been the community, and they need to be honored too.

And you can get the calendar in the next 9 hours by donating $25 or more for the digital download, or $60 or more for the physical version!


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Last 24 hours of crowdfunding!

The IndieGoGo campaign has just 1 day left, so time to reveal the last few heroes for the calendar…

One of the most mind-blowing and inspiring projects of the open source and open hardware world is certainly the 3D-printing revolution, and this is lead by the original, evolving, self-replicating 3D printer, the RepRap. I’ll be investigating the RepRap, its evolution and its community throughout the year, but here’s its inventor, Adrian Bowyer, to whet your appetite.

There’s a nice quote from the Guardian in his Wikipedia entry: “[RepRap] has been called the invention that will bring down global capitalism, start a second industrial revolution and save the environment…”

Here’s Adrian talking about his invention (the video’s a few years old, I’ll be covering some of the more recent breakthroughs over the coming months).

Also, of course, none of the current world of open source would have been possible without the World Wide Web, and its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee:

As well as, you know, bringing you the internet as you know it and giving away his idea royalty-free, he’s also an important advocate of open data and net neutrality.

So that’s 11 heroes in swimsuits, the final drawing will be up sometime in the next 24 hours… but who will it be?

In the meantime, you can get your calendar or check up on the campaign’s progress on IndieGoGo!


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A Double Hit of Handsome

Two more fine men for you to feast your eyes upon:

First, the man who best put into words just what made the Free Software working method so fascinating, and who also helped to give the idea two new words… ‘Open Source’.

It’s Eric S. Raymond (in a bazaar), author of the movement-defining The Cathedral and the Bazaar, one of the coiners (could you really call yourself a ‘coiner’?) of the term ‘Open Source’ and a founder of the Open Source Initiative.

 

And next, it’s Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the influential MIT Media Lab and the One Laptop Per Child project, designed to bring education and empowerment to children worldwide, through open source software and hardware.

You’d best get in quick to get your calendar… 35 hours left!


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While we’re celebrating epic triumphs and awesome robots…

I (finally) got Linux installed, and here’s Limor Fried (aka Ladyada) as the Metropolis robot!

Limor Fried is the owner and generally awesome electrical engineer behind Adafruit Industries where you can get all sorts of amazing DIY open source electronics kits for learning, playing and experimenting. Or you can get severe soldering burns if you’re anything like me.

Limor and all the other bespeedoed studs are still available for the next (hang on, just checking)… 58 hours, as I write this!

Anyone who contributes more than $25 gets a digital download of the calendar, and anyone who contributes $60 or more gets a real one! in real life! We’re almost at $6K, which is getting closer to being able to occasionally have a camera operator – so please let everyone know about the campaign on twitter, facebook, walk down the street yelling in your dressing gown, whatever you need to do. Or you could consider contributing yourself, perhaps? (this is not an all-or-nothing campaign like Kickstarter – the project still gets its funds if it doesn’t reach the goal)
In other news, though, what would have been one small step for most tech-savvy types (installing the simplest, most user-friendly distribution of Linux) proved to be one giant leap for me this week. I’ve lived two years with a broken CD/DVD drive on my MacBook Pro and never once needed it. It sure would have come in handy this week though.

As it turns out, Macs don’t like you fiddling around switching operating systems, they’d prefer you just use Mac OS, thanks. But if you must, then you’d better damn well use a CD to boot and install another system. So what I assumed was going to be one of the least painful switches of the year actually resulted in an awful lot of of swearing, fist-shaking and forum-combing, and every type of dead end imaginable.

Only after using 5 different techniques with 7 different disk images over a 5-day timespan, and having many a terse cup of tea, was I finally able to boot Ubuntu from a USB. No small thanks to my friend Martin who stood by and told me which keys to jab, even patiently explaining what some of the commands I was typing meant. Martin claims it was using the right choice of alternate .iso which solved it in the end. I want to trust him, but I can’t deny that sacrificing 3 goats, 6 virgins and a chicken felt pretty good too.

So, bye bye Apple, as far as software goes, at least. Final Cut Pro has been deleted, so the next video might be another few days away – got to find me some open source editing software first. I’m going to try OpenShot, Cinelerra and Novacut. any other suggestions?

I’ll fill you in on a little more of my progress very soon, in the mean time have a look around Shareable.net – I’m doing a regular blog post there about this project, so keep an eye out!


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Another spectacular opening ceremony

It all kicks off today! You’ll be relieved to hear that Mr. Bean was unavailable for this particular opening ceremony:

Day 1: Engelbeckenholunderblütensekt

As mentioned in the video, you can download the recipe and branding elements here:

Engelbecken recipe.odt

The font used in the label is the open source Chunk, from The League of Moveable Type.

Now, this project format is hardly ideal – for example, the label is a non-editable PNG, and the .odt with the recipe does not include previous revisions. I’ll be looking into how to better document my projects over the next few weeks. This is also one of the many issues with my current website setup – I’m starting a ‘bug list’ of areas to work on over the year and the project website (and the bug list itself) are right at the top. Vimeo is also a temporary video hosting solution until I get a better website up & running. Anyone have much experience with GNU MediaGoblin, or Kaltura.org?

While some aspects of my project might take a few weeks to organise a solution for (the open source cellphone is hopefully coming soon, but it’s not cheap…) – there are things I can change on day 1. Software is of course the obvious one, so over the course of the day I’m going to be installing Linux and open source software. I’ve already written the suicide note for my personal facebook page, (come join me on diaspora!) and I’m currently composing an inventory of products and services I use.

In other news, the IndieGoGo campaign is still on for another week – tell your friends! Here’s Judith’s latest drawing for the calendar:

One of the core ideas behind the calendar is presenting those who have inspired others to get involved in open source, so Yochai Benkler is an important one for me personally. I read his marvelous book The Wealth of Networks 3 or 4 years ago, and it was my first real in-depth introduction to online collaboration, to open source, and peer production, and it’s something I would recommend to everyone. You can buy the paperback, or, because it’s licensed under a Creative Commons NonCommercial ShareAlike license, you can download various electronic versions for free. If you want to read the book on your proprietary Kindle with its proprietary formats, I won’t judge you. Here’s how to convert ePub files to MOBI files.

OK, time to partition my hard drive! First step, work out what ‘partition a hard drive’ means.