Other posts related to opensource

 | December 14, 2010 6:49 am

BrushNote: Still working on the book.

Back during the Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) at the end of October (October 25th through the 29th, for the detail oriented), there were several interesting sessions dealing with design and open source.  In them, lots of things were discussed, and many intriguing ideas were bandied about.  But there was one question which far outweighed the others in importance.

What is the best way to encourage artistic and design contributions in open source projects?

It is difficult to overstate just how important design and art are to the future of open source.  If it ever wants to go anywhere (as Mark Shuttleworth likes to say, “[it it wants] to cross the chasm”), we needs to figure out an answer.  Talented design people need to work with talented developer people to create beautiful things, and there need to be robust systems to enable collaboration.

It turns out, though, that encouraging and enabling open source design isn’t easy.  It doesn’t really work in the same way as open source development.  There isn’t a straightforward way to match designers with projects which need their skills.  There isn’t a clear workflow for design, or a way to cache “works in progress.”  Nor is it as simple as building a team and letting them go at it.

In fact, no one has a good idea about how to enable artists and designers in the open source world.  So far, some efforts have resulted in spectacularly public battles and others have ended in the alienation of existing contributors.

Which is why there was a series of UDS sessions.

But after two days of good, big-picture discussions, Ivanka Majic made a brilliant (and rather obvious) observation.  Finding a way to invigorate the design community is a huge project.  It requires that we understand the needs of artists, how they work, and why they work.

The people in the UDS developer sessions did not seem to have that information.  So, Ivanka recommended the only obvious course of action: Canonical and the Ubuntu community should create a survey and do a study.

It was a very good suggestion, and, like many inspired ideas, not much has happened with it.

Until this morning, that is.  Finally, Canonical has published a survey for artists and designers working (or dabbling) in open source.  Below, you will find the full-text of Ivanka’s email and her instructions.

As you might guess, I consider Canonical’s support of open design to be important.  But I’m not sure they (Canonical) or we (the Ubuntu community) know how to harness the power and talent available.  Thoughtful responses to the survey might help to illuminate the path forward.  If you are an artist or designer with interest in open source, please take time to fill it out.

Here is Ivanka’s email:

Hello everyone,

Please can you take the time to fill in this survey? http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/36WWXCF

At UDS we ran a session discussing how we could increase and manage contributions in the areas of art and design and decided that this survey would be an important source of information.

It will probably take about 15 minutes to complete and, the more detail you include the better!



Ivanka Majic
Creaive Strategy Lead

 | November 29, 2010 11:18 pm

Note: I am still working on the book.  This is why there have been few postings.  I am plugging away full steam, but creating all of the needed illustrations has been much more time consuming than expected.  I hope to have updates soon.

For the past month or so, I’ve been helping to redesign the KDE eV Quarterly report.  (It is very much a team project, and I am only one of several people working on it.)  Below are several page layouts from one of the concepts.  I’m not sure that they’re going anywhere, but I liked how they turned out.

Therefore, I thought I would post them.  Thoughts, ideas, critiques, and flames are all welcome.  The theme of the template is “people.”





 | February 22, 2010 5:49 pm

Charles Minard - Railroad Routes

No study of the history of scientific communication can be complete without mention of Joseph Charles Minard, a 19th Century French civil engineer and cartographer.

At the end of his life, Minard created two very famous examples of statistical charts, called flow maps, that every scientist, engineer and student should be familair with.  The first showed Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps (218 BC, Second Punic War), and the second describes Napoleon’s disastrous invasion of Russia (1812-1813).

Both examples are beautiful works of art and masterful examples of evidence.  But they are also more than that, they tell cohesive and interesting stories.  In this post, I thought it might be interesting to take a closer look at the history of Hannibal and Napoleon, and highlight the ways which Minard’s charts help us to explain their eventual outcome.

(Note: High resolution, PDF versions of the two maps are available for download.  These versions have been translated from the original French.  To download, either click on the images, or here for the Hannibal invasion of Northern Italy, and here for the French Invasion of Russia.)

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 | March 4, 2009 10:32 pm

In addition to nouns, verbs, and adjectives; there are other tools which supplement the writer’s arsenal. some writers, this is a moleskin notebook and ballpoint pen. For others, writing is synonymous with the usage of computer word processors, such as Microsoft Word.  What is a given, however, is that the choice is intensely personal. If you ask ten different writers, "What is the perfect tool?" Expect ten different answers.

For those who create software, however, this is big problem. Programs can’t be customized to the individual whims of every writer. (A more diverse or idiosyncratic group does not exist.)  It is necessary to select a cross section of features that meet the needs of most people.  Unfortunately, however, this has resulted in some serious compromises and an emphasis on the technical process of writing, often to the exclusion of the creative process.

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