On Thursday 11th June I gave a presentation about Open Source Software and its relationship to open source software. You can download my slides. There’s lots of information in the notes so be sure to check.

In general I covered the usual things including what programs there are availble to facilitate creativity. One thing I wanted to emphasise was the need for more collaboration between coders and artists/non-coders.

What makes many of the open source creative programs so powerful is their extensibility. In many of the programs have a scripting environment where plugins can be written, often in Python, that can do many things, such as batch processing, modifying an image in real time or just about anything that the programmer can imagine. A problem that we (the open source community) face is that not everyone is a coder. So, they may see the scripting environment as a drawback instead of a feature.

So, I think there needs to be more education about the capabilities of the software and demonstrating of what can be achieved by learning programming and understanding more about your tools.

Thoughts on fizzPOP

Since February I have been running a hackerspace network called fizzPOP. The aim of this is to eventually acquire a permanent space for people to come and share ideas and collaborate on their projects. THe benefits of having a space include actually getting out of the house and, having a space with materials that you may not have .e.g. a lazer-cutter and just generally being in a friendly environment to bounce around ideas with other people.

Aside from the obvious issue of acquiring a space, which we recently (kind of) rectified, one of the problems we’ve had is in defining ourselves.

I think the UK is generally new to the idea of a hackerspace. They’ve been around Europe and America since modern computing came about. It has its roots in the DIY movement and the activities at a hackerspace can be anything from learning a programming language to learning how to construct and use a sewing machine. The key element is the sharing of skills and exploration of technology.

Laptop Fire

Back to the problem, how can you define something that covers such a broad range of topics? Many of our members, upon coming to a meeting have asked, “So, what do we do?” The answer to that is usually to do whatever you want, but perhaps some boundaries or instruction might be needed. People may respond better if there is a set task for them to focus on. The danger in doing this is that you may then alienate those who do not want to take part in the task.

Overall, what I would like for fizzPOP is for there to be tutorials/workshops on a particular subject that run alongside the usual ‘anything goes’ activities. For this, however, you need people who want to run workshops. How do you encourage this?