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Archive for the ‘Freedom’ Category

New York users: Free Culture Salon

Posted by Greg on July 8, 2008

I thought I would pass this along for those of you interested in the Free Culture side of things*.

My coworker, Fred Beneson, has just announced the CC Salon in NYC for July.  A CC Salon is to Free Culture what a LUG Meeting is to Free Software.  At this salon he has lined up some great looking presentations from Wikia Search and Livable Streets Network along with a performance by comedian Max Silvestri (of Gabe + Max’s Internet Thing).

If you are interested it will be taking place on Wednesday July 23rd at The Open Planning Project ( 349 W. 12th St. first floor).

There will also be some free (as in beer) beer sponsored by the Brooklyn Brewery.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to see other Freedom minded folks and have a good time!

You can RSVP on the Facebook event or emailing Fred at (simply make that an email address).

*Full disclosure: I am employed by Creative Commons this summer


Posted in Freedom, LoCo, Sharing, Ubuntu | Leave a Comment »

Bug Hug Day – July 3rd

Posted by Greg on July 1, 2008

I just wanted to remind everyone that this Thursday is another Ubuntu Hug Day!

I know what you are thinking: “But Greg, isn’t that the day after your birthday and the day before your nation celebrates its independence?”

Why yes, you are right, what better way to celebrate getting older and wiser along with Freedom than by helping out with a great Open Source project! Here are the details:

Area of Focus: Xorg bugs

Goal: Get all the bugs on this list into a Triaged state.  There are lists of “New” bugs (untouched) and “Confirmed” bugs (need a bit more diagnostics before being Triaged).

But wait, there are more reasons to participate!  Coming up is the Global Bug Jam and you want to be all prepared for that right?  This is the perfect time to get some questions answers and general advice from the community of triaging experts.

If you have been triaging bugs for a while, an Ubuntu Hug Day is a perfect time to sing up for the Bug Control team.  And as always, be sure to get yourself on the stats page for 5-a-day!

Posted in Freedom, Ubuntu | Leave a Comment »

It’s Launched! Now use it!

Posted by Greg on June 24, 2008

The first project which I have been working on at Creative Commons is now launched.  It is one of those projects which will help everyone in the Free Culture/Open Source movement in some way.  Here it is:

Creative Commons, as a ‘movement’ (more correctly, as a part of the Open Society Movement), has many users, both content creators and content ‘enjoyers’.  But, if you are interested in releasing some of your work under a CC license, where do you go for information?  The Creative Commons website obviously.  But, just reading over what the licenses say doesn’t give you all the information you need to make your decision.  It would be like reading the GPL and than saying, unequivocally, that the GPL will in fact be the best option for your specific case.  Sure, most of us believe that to be the case, but no small part of that reasoning is the fact that the GPL has served us all very well over the years.

What if you could read some interviews and opinions from people who have done what you are thinking?  That would probably help you decide in a more informed manner, right?

Well, that is what we produced for you.  Here is the blogpost announcement that tells you a bit about the project.  But here is my quick description:

What is the field which you create in (photography, writing, movies, music, etc)?  Do you want to read stories and interviews of people who produce similar content and release it under a CC license?  We now have many such writeups on the Case Studies page.  As you will see, that page and all of the case studies linked from it, are in a wiki.  So if you see something wrong/misspelled/out of date, feel free to fix it and help us all.

One thing you might notice which is missing from that list of music case studies is a writeup for SeverdFifth.  That isn’t because I didn’t want to do it; I just only had a limited amount of time to do the ones I could.  Here is my plea for you:

Help me write the SeveredFifth case study on the Creative Commons website!

As the project progresses keep it updated with new happenings and discoveries.  This would be a great way to make sure Jono’s musical adventure can help others interested in doing the same.  I have some quotes from a short interview with Jono I can put up later, but I won’t be able to get to it for at least the next day or two.  I set up a skeleton case study page for Severed Fifth here, but it really needs to be fleshed out.  That is where you come in.

Just go to the Severed Fifth Case Study page, and scroll to the bottom and click on “edit with form” (not the normal edit, the form option makes life a whole lot easier).  Help me fill in the missing information.

Lets show everyone how many cool Open projects there are out there, and how cool they all really are!

Posted in CC, Freedom, Sharing, Ubuntu | 1 Comment »

Bug Watches

Posted by Greg on June 15, 2008

As a part-time bug triager, I’m always curious of the new tools out there that enable people to work better and more efficiently.  One such new project, which I think has some real potential, is Stephan Hermann‘s Leonov project.

Another thing which I just read in my news reader was the fact that Luca Nussbaum added a functionality to Debian’s package overview pages which lets maintainers see what version of the package is in Ubuntu and how many bugs are reported against it in Launchpad.  This seems like a great idea and could even be expanded upon for better results.

My thought process:

A. Launchpad’s ability to watch other bug trackers for the same bug greatly improves the ability of developers to find and fix bugs.

A.1. People really like that ability.

B. Launchpad is only able to do that in a one-way direction (it can’t tell the Debian BTS that it’s bug has been marked “Fix Committed”)

B.1. Putting all of the work on the dev’s/triagers to then go back upstream and report it for every bug is a laudable goal, but as we all know, time is precious for everyone.

C. The ability to get bug data from LP and use it for enabling productivity is there, albeit a little “hacky” (screen scrapping is never fun).

D. Wouldn’t it be cool if other Bug Trackers could watch LP in the same way it watches them?

It seems to me, from both Lucas’ and Stephan’s efforts that doing D is possible right now.  Yes, it would be a ton more easy if Lucas’ and Stephan’s concerns were addressed (text/XML export etc).

I know the Launchpad developers are working right now to implement support for reporting back to other bug trackers certain information but I’m not sure of its progress.

Some Blueprints which might be related but I can not read (they are private): Bugs Remote API and Remote Launchpad Python Library (if you know of any other blueprints or bugs with more information, post them in the comments, please).

Does anyone know of any other bug trackers which are actively working on or at least discussing the ability to grab data from LP (or other BTS)  about certain bugs?

Posted in Freedom, open access, Sharing, Ubuntu, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Michigan LoCo Bug Jam – Summer 2008

Posted by Greg on June 2, 2008

I am pleased to announce that the Michigan LoCo Team is holding a Bug Jam on June 9th at 6:30 pm.

What is a Bug Jam?
Every day people report bugs about Ubuntu in the bug tracker Launchpad [0] but the number of bugs reported is more than the current bug triagers can effectively handle. In short, the Ubuntu community needs more bug triagers. But how do you triage bugs? Bug Jams are events where people who are interested in learning how to triage bugs get together to learn how to do this and answer everyone’s questions. It is a fun learning event.

Also, it is a great way to get started doing your 5-a-day and add your name to this list and increase our team’s ranking:

When and where is our Bug Jam?
It is Monday June 9th at 6:30pm at the Main branch of the Clinton-Macomb Public Library [1]. We will be in a conference room with free wifi to library card holders. People without local library cards can sign up
for one in 5 minutes, but if you are planning on doing that, please try to show up a little bit early. Directions can be found here: .

What should I do before the Bug Jam?
Check out some of the bug triaging resources online right now like: and

There is a wealth of information linked to from this page:

What do you do after the Bug Jam?
There are plenty of restaurant/bar options in the area to celebrate a jam well done and eat dinner.

Feel free to email the mailing list[2] for coordinating rides and asking questions before hand.




Posted in Freedom, LoCo, Ubuntu | 6 Comments »

Since it hasn’t been talked about enough already…

Posted by Greg on March 24, 2008

So, why should LaunchPad (Malone) be open sourced?*

I’m not going to say because other groups need to use the bug tracking/code hosting/question answering/multi-project-resource unifying features. No, I do believe that it wouldn’t make much sense for there to be multiple Launchpads out there dealing with bugs/code/etc (maybe a little of sense, but not much).

That market is already taken by and others (bugzilla, trac, savannah, et. al.)

Ok, so what market am I looking at? Scholarly communication <BORING!>

Not really boring actually. If you haven’t been paying attention to the scholarly communication world lately, let me tell you, a lot is changing. University libraries are spending more and more money every year on electronic journals. The rate of increase for the same product is higher than that of inflation, for a product which doesn’t improve (can we say monopoly/oligopoly?). In response many institutions (university libraries) are beginning to provide competing services. Full disclosure, my current employer is the Scholarly Publishing Office at the University of Michigan where we publish scholarly journals in an online and Open Access fashion. So, we are providing an alternative to the current commercial publisher vendor lock-in.

What does this have to do with LaunchPad and Open Source Software? Well, we are now in a global situation where there are many many many many open access journals and publications out there. There are some services out there than can help you navigate them, like the Directory of Open Access Journals. But, that service only indexes Open Access journals. Plus, there are now these things called Institutional Repositories, which are collections of preprints and articles and data from the “scholars” in a given “institution” (university, research lab, etc).

Then you have the commercial vendors. They don’t like people looking at their stuff, they don’t play nice with others unless they think they will lose money if they don’t. Libraries are getting better and better at letting their patrons search both sets of journals in one place, but the interface ALWAYS is hideous and creates MANY hoops the user has to jump through. In a word, it is LAME.

I haven’t answered what LP has to do with this yet. I’m getting there, I promise.

What does LaunchPad do really well? Linking various bugtrackers so that people can work together more efficiently to solve problems, right? That was the whole goal of Launchpad, otherwise Ubuntu would have stayed with bugzilla. What is the analogue for the scholarly publishing/communication world? You have those many distinct collections of articles (Open Access journals, Institutional Repositories, and commercial vendors) that do not talk to each other, ever. Yes, there are groups out there trying to improve this situation like the Open Archives Initiative where they are setting metadata standards and standards for transferring that information to others. That is a great thing, but it is only a start.

<The Answer, Finally> If we created a LaunchPad for scholarly works, we could solve many of the beginning access issues associated with this crappy situation. Here’s the idea:

Think of a bug, that is the article in this case. The article (bug) can have a published status like draft version or published in a journal (New, Incomplete, Fix Committed). But for it to even be an article in this Scholar’s LP it needs to have a reference to where it is, physically. So instead of a bug originating in LP and then being linked to other trackers as time goes on, the article needs to have an initial link to some place (OA journal, IR, or Comm. Vendor) using some standard like Digital Object Identifier or (which assigns a unique id to object online that can point to any address, so the changing of URLs won’t effect findability).

Then, this article (bug) can also have different versions linked to it. So, example: I publish an article in a prestigious journal, Nature, and I’m proud of it. So, I go to the Scholar’s LP and submit a new article. I give it the DOI or id and it automagically retrieves the metadata from the article’s current place of residence (that is if the provide it, if it is a commercial vendor, I might have to fill it in myself). Then it shows up as a new article in the system. My advisor, who thinks the work I did was cool, thinks that my previous drafts before publication are also pretty good. Since the version in Nature is not available to everyone for free, he links the preprint version that resides in my University’s Institutional Repository to my article. That is just like linking to an upstream bug in LP.

Of course, all the metadata is editable and updatable with information like author(s), publication data, place, copyright status (license), etc etc. Plus, if we wanted, we could limit certain metadata elements (like copyright status) to only the article’s author(s), we can do that by verifying emails with respect to what is in the actual article’s author list.

This Scholar’s LP could provide a wonderful unified interface so that “scholars” (define that however you want) can navigate this crazy mess of publishing easily (or at least easier). The “killer app” part of this is the ability to link a published article which is under crappy copyright restrictions to other versions which are available for everyone via institutional repositories or other places, in one place.

There are plenty of fancy cool things which could be done with this model, and I will talk about those later. One example is automatically linking to works cited to another Scholar’s LP or to an external link. But for now, I just wanted to get this idea out there and see if anyone has any comments.

* yes, you are right, we don’t need LaunchPad to be opensourced to do this, it was just a way to get you to read this, sorry.

Posted in Freedom, open access, School, spo, Ubuntu | 10 Comments »

Who’s number 1?

Posted by Greg on March 23, 2008

I’m just taking a break from writing papers to show you something interesting that proves the fact that Michigan is probably one of the best LoCos out there:

5-a-day Stats

Go past all of the individuals and look at the bottom where the teams are listed. See which team is #1? GO MICHIGAN!

I couldn’t help but notice that Ohio isn’t on the list…..

edit: yes yes, we aren’t number 1 for today, but, we are more of a long term focused group anyways.

My 5 today: #205715 (linux), #91498 (gnome-screensaver), #205742 (language-pack-sv), #193617 (gnome-power-manager), #205681 (ubuntu)
Do 5 a day – every day!

Posted in Freedom, LoCo, Ubuntu | 2 Comments »

Social Meet ‘n Greet for the Ubuntu people in the US

Posted by Greg on March 13, 2008

What are you doing tonight at 8pm MST (7 PST, 9 CST, 10 EST)? Wanna hang out with some great Ubuntu people? Good deal, just join the #ubuntu-us channel on, there’ll be a lot of us. And it is sure to be a good time (the last one was!).

New to IRC? Check out this guide on the Michigan team’s wiki page (shamelessly copied/modified from other guides).

See you there!

Posted in Freedom, LoCo, Ubuntu | Leave a Comment »

Request for Help

Posted by Greg on February 8, 2008

We need your help.  Your expertise.  Your perfect eye.  Your creativity.


Pete (from GuerrillaTech) is putting together a flier, codenamed the “Bad Vista Flier.”  It still needs work.  It needs polish.  It needs to look great when printed out.  It needs to be powerful.  Again, it needs you.

Posted in Freedom, Ubuntu | Leave a Comment »

I’m going to D.C.

Posted by Greg on February 7, 2008

The school I attend, the University of Michigan’s School of Information, has a neat little program called “Alternative Spring Break.”

Alternative Spring Break, or ASB to the “in people,” is an opportunity for students to work with organizations for a week; basically a mini-internship.  The positions range from usability testing of a website to archive managing at the National Archives to policy oriented positions.

I, being of the policy persuasion, applied for those positions.  A couple with ALA (American Library Association) and one with EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center).  The place that took me is EPIC.

So that means I’m using my spring break this year to go work with a group that tries to protect your privacy rights online, fight for a more open government, and make sure you can speak your mind wherever you are.  Yeah, you’re welcome.

Any questions you want me to ask the people at EPIC for you?  let me know.

Posted in Freedom, School | 2 Comments »