TCLP 2011-12-11 Live Interview with Cory Doctorow about “Context”

This is a feature cast, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

There is no hacker word of the week this week.

The feature this week is the recording of the live interview I conducted with Cory Doctorow at the New America Foundation (where I now work.) We talked mostly about his new essay collection, “Context” but as usual the conversation ranged widely from there, especially when we opened up to audience questions.

My thanks to both Cory for his time and John Taylor Williams for getting me this audio.

View the detailed show notes online. You can grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Video About the EU Hackathon

I shared this already on my social networks but thought I’d take a moment to highlight it here as I’ve mentioned in my recent travel updates my trip to Brussels last week. This is a seven and a half minute video about the EU Hackathon, event on which I worked as a speaker and organizer. Thanks to the hard work of my fellow organizers and the awesome efforts of the participants, the event far exceeded everyone’s expectations.

The crew responsible for this video did a great job capturing the purpose, outcomes and experience of being involved with this first group of hackers to anchor a hackathon in the halls of the EU Parliament. They produced a couple of accompanying videos focusing on the start and end of the hackathon, both of which were the portions that took place within the Parliament building in Brussels.

As Caroline de Cock explains in the video, the hackathon was organized around two goals, internet quality and government transparency. I helped organize the work on the former, working to select the participants and staying up as much as I possibly could through the 24 hours of hacking and attendant activities to offer my expertise on the source code of the network measurement experiments hosted by Measurement Lab. (Yes, that is the project I’ve mentioned as being a large focus of my current day job.)

We are already talking about next year. Stay tuned, there may be related activities between now and then working on these same two fronts, sponsored and organized by those of us behind the EU Hackathon.

TCLP 2011-11-06 Rant: Copyright Is Becoming Toxic

This is a feature cast, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In the intro I gave another brief travel update as I am leaving right after releasing this episode for Brussels to participate in the EU Hackathon. I have booked my travel to Paris for the first full week of December. Speaking of events, Cory will be in DC November 22nd and I will be interviewing him at a live book event followed by Q&A. Another event, which I won’t be attending, but looks worth checking out is the Indiana Linux Fest.

The hacker word of the week this week is fontology.

The feature this week is a rant on how copyright is becoming toxic. This is partly informed by currently events and partly by my current and recent reading.

View the detailed show notes online. You can grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

TCLP 2011-09-07 Transfabric

This is a feature cast, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In the intro, a reminder that I will be at the Ohio Linux Fest this weekend. If you are going to be there, come and find me!

The hacker word of the week this week is flush.

The feature this week is a discussion of my experiences traveling to Budapest, Hungary for Transfabric, focusing on the event itself. If you want to hear my personal impressions, in rough form, I recorded about ten minutes each night I was there.

View the detailed show notes online. You can grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Ohio Linux Fest 2011

Traveling to far flung Budapest for Transfabric followed by a jaunt to Columbus, Ohio to attend the Ohio Linux Fest may seem like an odd juxtaposition. In some ways it is, mostly in the obvious differences in the logistics of traveling to each. In other ways these two events are about many of the same kinds of themes. The funny thing is that I think the experiences I had in Eastern Europe may help me see the overlap, the familiar aspects of the coming event with some greater awareness.

I don’t expect Ohio Linux Fest to be as diverse as Transfabric but I am sure I will meet people coming to Linux from many different backgrounds and for many different reasons. One of the key personal lessons for me from Transfabric was realizing the extent and important of the differences around a common focus where it is often too easy to take for granted what motivates people to Make. At a Linux fest, focusing on a tool I use every single day of my life, it would be even easier to unknowingly have a blind spot filled in with my own assumptions and biases.

I count myself rather fortunate for being able to experience these two events back to back. The fact that I am now much more keenly aware of how short a short flight it will be to travel just a couple of states away, that I won’t have to carry my passport or exchange currency already puts me into a different state of mind approaching what would otherwise be a familiar, even a comfortable experience. Hopefully the much simpler nature of the trip itself will allow me to focus on paying more attention to those things I take for granted in the Linux community.

I have no set schedule for the fest, just following my interest. I hope to be able to maybe capture an interview or two but haven’t had time to approach anyone ahead of time. At a minimum I expect to be able to do some networking that will bear fruit as future interviews and segments for the podcast.

Last but probably most important I know that some listeners and readers will be in attendance at Ohio Linux Fest. If you haven’t already, send me an email. I will be getting in Thursday night and leaving Sunday night so there should be plenty of time to meet with anyone interested in doing so. I haven’t signed up for any of the goings on Sunday and don’t have to be at the airport until later so maybe if there is enough interest we can pull together an ad hoc meet up over lunch.

Creative Commons Event: The Power of Open

If you are in or near Washington, DC next week, specifically on Wednesday the 29th, and a user or supporter of the Creative Commons, consider checking out an event for the new book, The Power of Open. It is one of six events on six continents being coordinated to celebrate the book’s launch.

The DC event is being hosted by my employer, the New America Foundation, and will feature a couple of my colleagues, Tom Glaisyer and Rebecca MacKinnon. I’ll be in attendance for at least part of the evening.

The book looks fascinating, offering cases studies across many disciplines for how Creative Commons licenses are being used successfully. Sounds like an excellent reference to bolster the usual set of high profile instances commonly used by free culture advocates. I hope the event offers some highlights of the work that went into the book and a chance to learn more.

TCLP 2011-06-01 Copyright Panel at Balticon 45

This is a feature cast, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In the intro, a warning about the rougher nature of the event audio in the feature, a heads up that there won’t be new podcasts on Sunday 6/5 or Wednesday 6/8, a welcom to any new listeners from Balticon, and a correction from Randal.

There is no new hacker word of the week this week.

The feature this week is the recording I capture of my copyright panel at Balticon 45 this past weekend.

View the detailed show notes online. You can grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Reflections on Balticon 45

I want to share some of my thoughts about Balticon 45 while they are still fresh. I returned home a few hours ago. My bags are all unpacked. I’ve tended to a bunch of other post-convention chores including preparing the recording from my copyright panel for sharing in Wednesday’s podcast.

I’ve struggled with science fiction conventions in general for the last couple of years. I owe a great deal to the organizers who have invited me, offering me tons of opportunities for valuable public speaking experience. Coming largely from the technology and policy worlds I’ve always felt a bit of an outsider. The common thread of podcasting has not always helped. In some ways it has made it harder because of the assumptions my peers make about what it is that I do and how I go about it.

This year I think I finally managed to strike a comfortable balance both personally and professionally. My new job may have something to do with it. In my mind, my recent shift to working full time in public policy as a technologist is thanks in no small part to the public speaking I’ve been able to do and the almost six years I have been podcasting. I am uncertain how many of the over capacity crowd who showed up for my copyright panel knew of this latest step in my career until I mentioned it in my introduction. Make of that what you will but my own knowledge of my new situation helped when I felt almost overwhelmed at the start speaking to such a large, interested audience all by myself, unlike years past where I’ve had some great panelists to help share the load.

Just as likely contributing to the general positive experience I had is the possibility that I’ve just learned to let go of some of my expectations and second guessing. At the polar opposite from the near panic inducing crowd for the copyright panel, my FLOSS and tech geek birds-of-a-feather was really only attended by a couple of good friends. A few other friends and acquaintances spotted me in the bar and wandered over without realizing why I was there. I didn’t feel the need to push the conversation strictly to the topic, especially since the event was unofficial. I probably could have promoted it more strongly if I really wanted a larger, more focused turnout. Regardless, I simply enjoyed the time with the folks who were there, whatever it was they wanted to talk about.

The new podcast I have been doing with my good friend John Taylor Williams may also have contributed to my greater enjoyment and ease. The home brew panel I was on because of Living Proof went well with the only criticism I heard being that it really should have been two panels so that an hour each could be dedicated respectively to beginning and advanced topics. I would be up for that next year especially as I will have that many more beers under my belt. Outside of the programming, I suspect my being increasingly known as a home brewer, a beer enthusiast and a podcaster who talks about these subjects may have also made it easier for some folks to approach me. I get that the tech and policy geekery can be intimidating which I why I usually don’t bring it up unless specifically asked.

I’ve long since made my peace with the fact that conventions are simply too hectic to spend anywhere as much time with my far flung friends as I would like. All the same, I was delightfully surprised with how many friends I did see. Often that renewal of friendship or acquaintance went well beyond the simple exchange in passing that is the much more common occurrence. My volunteering load was much lighter this year, some of that by design and some by accident. I am sure that also helped me have a better social experience. I will definitely consider my experiences this year when deciding on how much I want to shoulder at Balticons future.

On the whole I have to put this Balticon well towards if not at the very top of my list of science fiction convention experiences. That positive ranking even includes the almost whole day of the convention I missed due to feeling very shabby (a likely touch of food poisoning exacerbated by a series of misfortunate decisions the evening before.) No one thing really stood out but overall I enjoyed myself immensely and feel I acquitted myself well (with the exception of the panel I missed due to being MIA) as a program participant. I have plenty new experiences (one inspiring one in particular) from this convetion that I hope will serve me well at future ones as well as at the new venues, events and engagements where I will find myself thanks to my new day job.

Balticon 45 Schedule

For the fifth year in a row I am an invited participant at Balticon, the annual convention of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. My impressive tenure (i.e. chair warming behind a mic in my home studio for six years this June) has earned me a coveted spot on the New Media track schedule.

My panel schedule this year is lighter than in years past but includes reprisals of two of my favorites. On top of my official participation, I will be volunteering on behalf of the con’s official podcast to help record author readings. This is one of the reasons I love volunteering at Balticon, getting to meet authors of every stripe and level of achievement. As an averred SF reader hearing them read selections of their works in their own voices is excellent compensation for the time and effort spent helping to record them for posterity.

  • Brewing Your Own Beer at Home
    Saturday, 1PM to 2PM in Derby
    “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – Benjamin Franklin 

    Our panelist of novice and master home brewers take you through the basics of making your own craft brews at home. They will also explore the DIY philosophy that got them involved in home brewing, podcasting, open source software, etc.

  • Copyright in the Digital Age
    Saturday, 2PM to 3PM in Derby
    What you don’t know is costing you moneyA discussion of the benefits and dangers surrounding cultural production on a globalized, digital platform. Technology has a long history of shaping our cultural arts. Around 1900, technological reproduction had reached a standard that permitted it to tangibly reproduce all known works of art, profoundly modifying their role and effect in the artistic process. Laws were made to strike a balance between an individual artist’s incentive to create, and the virtues of a public domain, where others can experiment and improve upon previous ideas. In today’s “Digital Age”– an era defined by the ability to make copies and share information at the speed of light– art, music and literature that participate in the online ecosystem are being perceived differently, taking on a new aura. Ironically, the artistic material that is produced and shared online; that which forsakes the Barnes and Nobles and Virgin records shelves to exist only in non-tangible form, is now deemed “Content,” rather than art. But “content” implies that it is a thing– that it can be contained, bought and sold. What consequences might this re-branding of art and creative work hold for future generations? What is the fate of our cultural creative commons?
  • Open Source Software for Everyday Use
    Sunday, 2PM to 3PM in Derby
    What we use at home and at work to free us from software giantsDo you feel that your creativity is held back because you can’t afford programs like Photoshop, Final Cut, or Microsoft Office? Our panel of experts have freed themselves from the bonds of expensive closed software ecosystems and you can too. Whether you’re just fed up, want to try new things, or can’t afford to pick up the software you want, there is an open source alternative available to you. Find out what packages our panelist use, how to find software that fits your need, and how to join the amazing communities that spring up around open source software.

    Chances are you probably use some OSS, and you don’t even know it. Our panel of open source developers and evangelists discuss the facts and help you find the OSS packages that can free you from outrageously high costs, bizarre licensing practices, and poor interface design. Come and learn ways to save yourself money, improve your productivity, and secure your computer. You don’t have time or money to ignore OSS anymore. Set yourself free.

In addition to my official commitments and volunteering, once again I will be convening the FLOSS and tech geek BoF. My co-host and the producer of the Living Proof Brew Cast and I will probably host the BYOBS for beer geeks and home brewers again though we haven’t discussed the details yet. I am positive it will be by invitation only like last time so come and find either John or I early in the convention to receive the nod and learn the location.

FLOSS and Tech Geek BoF III at Balticon 45 – Updated

(Updated to correct the obviously wrong date.)

For the past two years at Balticon, the annual convention run by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, I’ve organized an unofficial and largely ad hoc gathering of FLOSS and general technology enthusiasts. (Here’s my announcement from last year.) Turnout has been small but dedicated and I enjoy doing it as a bit of a warm up before getting into the con proper.

I will be convening the birds of a feather again this year, in the same place around the same time. Instead of two hours, I’ve decided to simply offset it by half an hour from the official schedule and hang around for an hour. Why offset it? For the same reason I scheduled it for 2 hours in years past, so folks can join even if they have other commitments. If enough people show and want to keep the discussion going, there is no reason we cannot continue the conversation.

What: Birds of a feather, a term from technology conferences that simply refers to an off schedule or unofficial gathering driven by mutual interest rather than a specific topic or event

Where: The Paddock Bar (You cannot miss the hotel bar, even if you’ve never been to the Hunt Valley Marriott, it is straight through the lobby. Also it is a public space so if you are in the area but not attending the con you can still join us.)

Who: The bald hacker (me) with the Tux table sign and small, bean bag penguin

When: Friday, May 27th from 9:30PM to 10:30PM (longer if there is interest)

Why: Because there is a not surprisingly high proportion of FLOSS and tech geeks amongst the usual con going crowd

Hope to see you there!