@apurva said in rebus newbie, activist, coder:
What’s the process like for people to contribute to your catalogue?
well, it is pretty open. anywhere a suggestion can be made, publicly or privately, it will be considered. the catalogue is curated, like a real library. i used to hang out at the public library and suggest items to add on a regular basis-- some of them would find their way into the collection.
the concept of the organisation is a bit unconventional. there is an official charter: https://notabug.org/figosdev/figos/raw/master/fmchrtr2.txt
and the charter represents the backbone of the organisation. the entire thing can be thought of as a free software application-- it has an official home, though it can have unofficial support forums and fansites (where you can make suggestions for the catalogue. for example, if you made your suggestions here, they would count.)
ultimately this is about building a library, and a broad, multi-faceted community (even a meta-community to network related communities) through the concept of expanding free culture/software/hardware.
it is a vehicle for everyone who wants to get more involved, there is no fee for joining, no dues, its 100% volunteer and the purpose is to bring more people together and create more awareness / education around (like i said) free culture/software/hardware. oer certainly counts.
unlike creative commons, the focus is away from nc and nd licenses. one goal is to strengthen the public domain, and thus cc0 is heavily promoted (but so are cc by and by-sa, as well as the gpl 2 and 3, lgpl, x11-type licenses and apache 2. the list of recommended licenses grows, but slowly, since license proliferation is a real problem.)
there seem to be basically zero practical (dedicated) free hardware licenses at this time, though the gpl could be used for that. so could cc-by, whether it is really ideal for the purpose or not. so the lack of a free hardware license doesnt necessarily mean a lack of free hardware.
to understand all this, it does help to think of the organisation as a free software application. no matter how many times you fork openoffice (and i would say libreoffice is the better of the two, though i use both) openoffice is openoffice-- theres something official to it, it has leaders and it has processes associated with it as a project.
but at the same time, anybody (technically speaking) can take the entire thing and create a competing version. most forks dont persist, but the possibility is always there. and theres freedom in that. the goal of the organisation is to lead, perhaps-- but ultimately, the role of the organisation is a servant to the purpose of promoting the 4 software freedoms-- as applied to software and not only just software.
i have watched similar organisations for so many years. if they were doing exactly this, there would be no need to do it. i can think of practically nothing wrong with oer for example, though its focus is mostly textbooks and school materials-- which is fine. but if you want a music library, oer perhaps isnt what you need.
another nice thing about creating applications is that if you have a great idea, other people can incorporate that idea into their own application-- so if we do something people love enough to import to their own organisation, great-- that means we improved a related project without necessarily even having direct involvement. thats great too.
as i said, ive watched related organisations for years. this effort, which continues to grow in members and contributions (founded in july) does the things that arent being done, or that are being done and people dont know about.
theres a heavy educational aspect to it. for example, one member is a coder and very familiar with free software-- and had never heard of “free culture” at all.
ive made richard stallman aware of it. the approach is sometimes critical of free software, but less antagonistic to the fsf than “open source” often is. still, this goes beyond individuals and organisational identity-- the roots are in concepts, ideas and action. certainly, there is time for reflection and for talk, but the library is a vital, practical component.
it includes or will include software, hardware designs, art, music, tutorials, textbooks, essays, prose, etc.
If you were interested, Dave Braunschweig is putting together an open textbook on programming fundamentals (more info in Rebus Projects), and there might be ways for you to collaborate, or for him to collaborate on your project!
it would be wonderful indeed to have him associated with what we do-- i was, in my many travels to find items for the library-- actually evaluating first the book he is using as the foundation for his work, (i was already familiar with the c++ version) and i have already evaluated his edition as far as the point where the work has reached the original (it is a writing in progress, as you know.)
my feelings about the book so far are-- great idea, good implementation, accessible, and i would be happy to add it to the library in its current state if a couple people (such as you and dave) suggest it.
apart from that happening, i would monitor the progress from time to time and add it when its further along, but i could be talked into it early if everyone loves the idea.
i tend to release ebooks in a draft state-- theyre usable and can be adopted and remixed, but when im teaching i just point people to the resource as-is and then frequently custom-tailor things to that individual, as much as possible.
because every time you do that, you might create a new resource. which sounds good to me.
the (regularly updated) library is here: https://freemedia.neocities.org/library.html i try to find the best things to add before i add the rest, but im very open to suggestions.
i frequently explain that you do not have to be a member to “donate.” what donations do we take? free works, and links to free works, and names of free works. thats what it is all built from. joining helps too, and it is very easy to do (outlined in the brief charter.)
how do we represent our members? first, by listening and interacting. second, by giving everyone the equal opportunity to join. third, by making it easy to help “run” the thing, by participating for the most part, in your own way. its a wild idea, but a long time coming.
note that i was pushing for students for free culture to rename themseves the “free culture foundation” a long time before they did so. im not saying i had a hand in that-- i dont know who made the decision, or why-- but i was aware of them even then, and very pro-free-culture-foundation even when they werent called that yet.
but i think their goals are just too narrow, and without the need to be. how much does the fcf promote oer? i dont know, but my organisation is already bringing free culture to new people who havent even heard of “free culture” before.
you can also propose items for the catalogue by giving it the tag freemediaalliance (all one word) on a wordpress.com blog. thats an easy option for wordpress.com users.
the whole thing (even the concept) is partially decentralised. it has some centralisation, which is beneficial (because network effects.) it is partically decentralised, which makes contributing more trivial-- and it gives each individual a bigger say in the future of the concept. but when theres any doubt-- thats what the charter is for. the sha256sum of version 0.2 is 6f6ae2e88424712c40ee0ea1af4f2d9d040560481eb8b9c7f7401ac9883c52a0.
the ultimate goal of the free media alliance is to enhance and promote software freedom and free culture-- both for the movement itself, as well as every user and learner. thats a very big task that a lot of people can participate in by continuing to do pretty much what theyre already interested in doing. it helps if they tell us about it, but like with daves book effort-- it was already being (and is still being) evaluated to go right on that page.
will it scale? ultimately, the internet archive has the resources to make it able to scale. i spend a lot of time using the archive. a friend of mine has archived over 1000 versions of puppy linux there.