A few people have asked me about my presentation I did in April at OSOS, it was to be about the commons, but I kinda flicked at around to be a comparison of FLOSS projects and a Māori worldview. So here it is.
This post is a collection of not fully formed thoughts, ideas that I have been mulling over since my VALA boot camp on epublishing. Take them with a grain of salt please.
Traditionally information professionals, be they Archivists, Librarians, Curators or the rest of the cultural heritage sector, have been seen (rightly or wrongly) as gatekeepers of knowledge and information. These days as information becomes more and more locked down (DMCA, DRM, never expiring copyright, etc) the term gatekeeper becomes more and more accurate.
Every DRM encumbered book a library lends makes DRM one little bit more accepted. Every borrower who is helped to jump through the ridiculous hoops that DRM puts in front them is one more step in normalising it. When we make gallery exhibition apps that work only on ‘I’ devices we encourage our users to use proprietary software. In essence I contend that we are actually providing a disservice when we do these things.
Luckily at the same time this increased lock in is occurring, the Open Access movement is also increasing. I say Open Access not Open Data, because data is just 1s and 0s it is useless without software. And if the software I need to access the data isn’t Open, then I don’t have Open Access.
So I think we need to become gatecrashers, we should at the very least be pointing out the gates are there, and who put them there, at best we should be busting them open. Let’s promote Open Access, that’s Open Data and Open Software, at every opportunity we get. Let’s push back against those who would put knowledge in a walled garden. Let’s storm the gates and send them crashing open.
One of the great advantages of working on Free Software is the openness and transparency, not only of the code but of the processes around creating the code. Weirdly (or perhaps not weirdly) this can also be a disadvantage. We can see all the bugs … we know we can fix them, but also sometimes we can’t fix them as fast as we want. Or we can see the bugs but don’t have the time, or the permission, to fix them. This can be hugely frustrating, and can cause us to feel like we are not making any progress. What can exacerbate this is the fact we can see all the process, if our patch gets stuck at QA, or signoff, we can see this, it’s all open.
How do we get around this? I don’t really have the answer, but what works for me is mini breaks. Take a week off, or even a day or two off every time you begin to feel a little burnt out. Work on another project, read a book, knit a scarf .. do anything except work on patches in your evenings This works for me, a few days off and I’m excited and ready to go again, what never works for me is trying to slog on through it.
A few weeks ago my laptop died so I needed to buy a new one. As I am heading off to Atlanta for the Supporting Cultural Heritage Open Source Software Symposium, I thought hmm, I could get a System76 laptop and pick it up when I’m there.
Equinox Software support both Evergreen and Koha and are based in Atlanta, even though I have never met most of them, they agreed to have the laptop delivered there. So when I get to Atlanta, I will go pick it up, exchange some beers, then go back to my hotel and check out my presentation out of git ready for the next day.
So thanks to a company that specialises in Linux laptops, and another that specialises in FOSS library software, I will have a brand new laptop running Linux in 3 days time.
Update: Here it is, so far I love it.
With still 9 days to go I’ve decided to do a bit of a wrap up for the year.
It was a pretty massive year in a lot of ways starting with
- This year we had the highest number of commits ever, as of today 2619 commits
- 82 different people had code committed into Koha
- 32 were new developers
- At least (probably about 4 times this many really) 167 libraries liberated themselves by moving to Koha
- 3.12 and 3.14 were released on time and with no major issues
- Kohacon in Reno was a great time.
- The NZ trademark issue was finally settled with the Community winning it’s challenge to Liblime/PTFS’s application.
- I wrote 50 patches, signed off 182 patches, did QA on 72 and when doing release maintenance pushed 248.
- Maui came to the 4th birthday party of Te Po Atarau.
- Kahurangi turned 7 and had a space party.
- I turned 40
- Laurel had ankle reconstruction surgery, that resulted in a bunch of complications that meant I did the school run for most of the year.
- I gave 11 presentations. (It would have been 12 but I bailed on one)
- I survived 3 Whisky O’Clocks
- I travelled 36,577 km
Unfortunately I had to pull out of doing my lightning talk at NDF, I simply didn’t have the time to be able finish what I was going to present. I felt it was better to pull out than do something that wasn’t up to scratch, not really fair on the conference attendees otherwise.
But I still think the idea has some merit, so here is a snippet of the unfinished, rough edged, cut down for youtube, thing I was going to present
Massive thanks to Andrew Caudwell who writes Gource, without which this would not be possible.
It’s running circulation data with 1 minute = 1 day, but it’s equally interesting running a bit slower. There is a lot more I wanted to do, like using the actual book covers, visualising more data, like acquisition, and cataloguing .. tracking an item throughout its life. All of which is easily doable, just with more time.
Anyway, I hope people get something out of it.
Basically I had lost track of all the presentations I had committed myself to giving, so wanted to note them down here so I don’t do that again.
- September 6 2013 – Open Source and the Library Technology Dream
- September 23 2013 – EIFL-FOSS Webinar about Koha
- September 26 2013 – Māori and FOSS
- October 16-18 2013 – 3 Presentations at Kohacon13
- October 20-22 2013 – Kohacon13 Hackfest
- November 26 (or 27) 2013 – Making library statistics dance at NDF
- February 3 2014 – VALA Boot camp – Preserving access to information: the hands-on approach.
I don’t think I have missed any, if I have please tell me
UPDATE: I did forget one, added now