Archives for category: openeverything

We’re at Communia and hearing about some very innovative memory institutions and archives. Yeah, yeah. The word archives puts everyone to sleep, but here are three projects that should perk you up.


Images for the Future

Images for the Future is a joint project funded by the Dutch government to digitize nearly 3 million photos, 140,000 hours of audio, and 150,000 hours of video & film. With a budget of €175m, there’s a lot of financial muscle behind this effort. But why such hefty funding?

So far, 1.5 petabyte of audio and visual data are being added a year. That’s 1, 500, 000 gigabytes. Yeah, nearly as much data as held in all US academic libraries!

The Images for the Future consortium won the bid by pushing for an economic, rather than cultural, argument for digitization. They crunched numbers on the return on investment to the government, tax payers, and even downstream entrepreneurs.

Despite all the ambition, Images for the Future is running into an archivist’s dilemma. Their mission is to optimize the availability of Dutch audiovisual heritage. But on the other hand, they’re obligated to payback the investment, plus navigate a myriad of external rights. That’s why they’re experimenting with new business models. They’ve created a YouTube channel, Flickr groups, partnership with Europeana, and are tinkering with new visualization tech like 3D cinema and desktop touch screens. A lot of their material is licensed under a Creative Commons license, yet they’re still sorting out how to sell footage and generate revenue from clicks, like portals paying out €1.85 per view.

It reminds me of a comment overheard today: digital preservation is easy to do, as long as you have money forever.

Open Images

Open Images is a spanking new project tackling the above problem while fostering participatory culture. Digital archives are exciting insofar as people are DOING stuff with the material, and not letting the expensive data bit-rot. So Open Images is encouraging the reuse and remix of their collection. They’re open as can be — deploying an open CMS called MMBase, open video codec (ogg theora), the HTML5 <video> tag, and open API (OAI-PMH, Atom feeds). All the content is cleared for creative reusel: CC BY-SA is preferred, and they’re interlinking with Wikimedia Commons to mutually enhance usability and scope.

However, Open Images doesn’t offered high-resolution content. Rather, only “internet quality” material is available, with the thought that high-res will later be exploited to generate revenue.

It’s an apt vehicle to explore new business models around open images and an experimental bunch behind it. Check out their slides to learn more.


European Film Gateway

European Film Gateway (EFG) is an EU-funded project to collect footage from film archives held in 14 countries. It kicked off in Sept. 2008 and will offer a full-fledged website in 2010. It builds off a previous archive, or MIDAS, with 270,000 works. But the biggest obstacle MIDAS encountered was how can users actually WATCH the films?

Enter the EFG.

It’s a free, central point of access for federated film collections across Europe. EFG is building interoperability of digital content and metadata, and it delivers content to Europeana, a growing library resource of European cultural works and metadata. The goal of the collection is to connect film archive material and link it to other bibliographic information. For example, irun a search for Film X, you’ll find out it was made by director Y. That takes you to biographic info about the director, maybe on Wikipedia.

There are copyright issues, of course. It’s hard for EFG to sort through multiple authors and rights holders. Often, the participating archives don’t own the rights nor are those rights properly documented. There’s a huge issue with orphaned works, not to mention the fact that the film medium has only been around since 1895, so copyright protection hasn’t expired on much of the content.

Conclusion: there’s a lot of innovating and large-scale projects to get Europe’s cultural heritage online. But hurdles undoubtedly mar the way. Fortunately, the Communia network is proposing some policy recommendations that will hopefully remove some roadblocks. The policies will be submitted in a few months time. In the meanwhile, check out the Communia website to learn more about the discussions and get involved.

(from antischokke)

Da wir inzwischen viel mehr Events im Rahmen des atoms&bits-Festivals ankündigen können, als wir zu wünschen gewagt hatten, ist die Kalenderansicht auf unserer Website etwas unübersichtlich geworden.

Stefie hat sich die Mühe gemacht, eine kleine Zusammenfassung der Events am Wochenende in unseren Locations rund um den Moritzplatz/das atoms&bits Camp in Berlin-Kreuzberg zusammen zu stellen, die ich hier gerne übernehme. Weiter unten findet ihr eine Auflistung der Locations.

Wie ihr seht haben wir am Wochenende viel vor:
Also kommt zahlreich & habt Spaß!

Donnerstag – 24.09

Freitag – 25.09

Samstag – 26.09

Sonntag – 27.09

Picture 4

Open Up! Creative Commons Case Studies in Design on Slideshare

Last month, John and I gave a presentation about Open Design at the DMY Symposium in Berlin. It was a bright and welcoming audience of young designers from the International Design Festival DMY. We were graciously invited by the event’s organizers (thank you, Ake!) to talk about how open concepts and Creative Commons licensing can help designers realize their ideas, reduce barriers to collaboration, and altogether foster creativity.

So you want to Design?

We started off by outlining a few problems that designers might typically face. My friend Linda, a designer herself, helped tease out some of these issues. Firstly, young designers may not know where to find material they can build upon, let alone where and how to publish thier work so that it too can be discovered.

Secondly, young creators lack what their successful counterparts do not: fame. So while established artists have more clout and social capital, an aspiring designer has to fight bitter battles to just get their work seen let alone purchased. Nowadays, perhaps more so than ever, audience attention is drastically limited and overburdened by digital noise. That’s why Tim O’Reilly’s observation continues to ring true: “Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.” So designers, instead of worrying about someone “ripping off” ideas, you should be more concerned about winning eyeballs and getting people to talk about your work.

Lastly, what other problems might a budding designer face? Basically, anything that’s going to cost them a lot of unnecessary money. Like lawyers and extraneous licensing fees.

A Ray of Hope


These are at least some problems that open licenses such as Creative Commons’ can help solve. For example, all CC licenses require attribution, so each time someone distributes or reuses your work, your name is mentioned. And for anyone who understands how the net works, getting mentioned (i.e. getting linked to) is a good thing. Plus, with CC licenses you can embed metadata, which enables your work to be maschine-readable and indexed by search engines and other tools, which makes it much easier for people to find your stuff.


By granting additional permissions to your work, you’re inviting people to participate in the creative process with you, which can improve your designs and encourage people to become fans and active supporters of your ideas and projects. It’s also important to reiterate that with a CC license, you never give up your copyright. You still retain certain rights, and it’s within the frame of copyright that CC licenses acutally function. What’s more, when you use CC’s free licensing tools, you don’t have to go through the hassle of hiring a lawyer and negotiating a contract for every use. Instead, the licenses are standardized and publicly available, which means anyone can use them to publish a work for which they control the appropriate rights.

Ok, now that there are some arguments for why one should open up their work, but what about some good examples of how?

Open Design in Practice

One elegant story of open design comes right out of Berlin. Ronen Kadushin, a long-experienced designer and adventuring spirit, is pioneering the practice of releasing “source code” for high-end furniture under a Creative Commons license. Students, amaetuers, and competitors alike can download Ronen’s AutoCAD files and build and customize the pieces themselves.


Ronen’s beautiful and playful designs, as well as innovative approach, have won him much attention and fans. People often send him design remixes and purchase completed pieces from his online retailers or gallery exhibitions. Ronen says he enjoys the adventure of going open source and seems quite pleased with the results so far.


Open fashion is another field of innovative design in Berlin. Cecilia Palmer, founder of the open source fashion label Pamoyo, recently unveiled The Red Shop in Kreuzberg, where she sells finished pieces made from organic materials. You can also download her patterns and make the clothing yourself. As with Ronen’s designs, people are encouraged to unleash their creativity on Pamoyo’s collection and drop Cecilia a line when they’re done.

aruino board

Arduino is of course another cool example of how openness can inspire  creators and reinvigorate design. This low-cost electronics platform runs on simple yet powerful hardware and software, and it’s been the darling of design and circuit communities since it hit the market. Users can buy completed boards or build their own from Arduino’s freely available CC-licensed files. The applications for Arduino are nearly limitless: robotics, game design, visuals, interactive sculpture, energy monitors, you name it. But one of the most fun ways to learn about this open tool is to hack it in collaborative geek-glee at an Arduino workshop. As for the economics and social trends around the platform, Clive Thompson’s analysis in WIRED is certianly worth a read.

reprapA final key component in many open design circles is community. Thingiverse, for example, is a lively online community for digital fabrication: 3D printers, CNC machines, laser cutters, and the whole lot. They share their projects online under open licenses so that people can play, comment, build upon and improve the designs. The same is true for cadyou, Flexible Stream, and Open Draw Community.

Looking for more?

A number of these example and more are documented in the Creative Commons Case Studies project. We’re always looking to expand this resource, so if you’d like to share your experience in Open Design, please consider adding your story!

Images: Open Up! Creative Commons Case Studies in Open Design by Michelle Thorne / CC BY, Bird Table by Ronen Kadushin / CC BY NC SA, Pamoyo / CC BY NC SA, Replicating Rapid-Prototype by Ethan Heim / CC BY NC SA

Openness is a philosophy that is being used as the basis of how various groups and organizations operate. It is a relatively new term to describe a general way of doing things. — “Openness.” Wikipedia. Accessed 01.06.09.

Over the span of four hours, Dr. Christine Kolbe led us, the participants of last week’s Thinking Openeverything salon, along the many strands of “openness” collected over the past months. Together, we were trying to advance answers to core questions. Where does the term openness come from? What does it really mean? Is it unique to the digital age? What are the shortcomings and counter arguments to opening up everything? Are these processes viable models for society?

We first took a stab at these topics using a mediation technique called a spectogram, where we lined up according to our personal responses to the question How open are you? The majority of the room clustered around “above average” and “completely”, but a few outliers sparked comment when standing firmly at “not very”. One participant, finding himself hovering near “not at all”, explained that he sensed a generational gap between his traditional “keep your cards close” behavior and the more share-happy, digital native approach.

From these initial thoughts, we pieced together some conditions of openness. Most definitions included transparency, participation, and access. Feedback loops were also key, as they ensure communication channels between users and service providers — be they software companies, fashion labels, or governments.

Of course, no conversation about openness would be complete without recognition of the free vs. open debate. There is a critical distinction between the two terms, although they are often (wrongly) used interchangeably. Free describes an ideology and social movement bound by four unwavering freedoms guaranteeing access, distribution, modification, and even commercialization. Open is more about methodology, and as a term, it is by far less disciplined in usage. An open platform, for example, may grant gratis access to everyone but run proprietorially and prevent users from governing themselves. In such instances, you end up with cases like Facebook’s controversial Terms of Service, which allow the social networking company to data-mine its users’ personal information and sell it to marketers.

The ambiguities of the term “openness”, or its general lack of ideology, prompted one of the most intriguing questions at openeverything Berlin: Is openness a model for society? Certainly there are characteristics of openness that are and should be the aspirations of governments and communities, no-brainers such as transparency and participation. But how can these traits be implemented or maintained if there is not a rigid definition of openness or mechanisms to guarantee them? Unlike “free as in speech”, there are not systematized hacks and uncompromising rules to ensure something is open, and that it will stay that way. This fundamental shortcoming leads to deeper questions regarding the role of commons governance in general — a thoroughly under-theorized field, as commons researcher David Bollier rightly points out.

Overall, commons governance was a huge topic on the participants’ minds at openeverything Berlin. We took a look at how open projects are structured and how democracy plays out within them. It became clear that while many existing projects take steps in the right direction, a notable number are still reigned by benevolent dictators. Take for instance Wikipedia, which evokes a remarkable exception for its founder, Jimmy Wales. The rule, WP:JIMBO, stipulates that Wales may assert authority “on an ad-hoc basis: it is exercised when other decision-making structures are inadequate or have failed in a particular situation.”

Openwashing also poses a threat to the idyllic fields of openness. Openwashing, derived from greenwashing, is a marketing phenomenon that seeks to pitch a product as open, although it is not. Since “openness” doesn’t have a strict definition or ideology, the term can be abused all the easier. Coca-Cola, for example, recently launched its “Open Happiness” campaign, which is supposed to “inspire people to say yes to the opportunities that summer brings” through ad spots and posters. I’m not hold my breath that Coke’s campaign will do anything truly open at all. It is, just like many other companies, simply riding a wave of cool. Open is vogue, and since commodification inevitably follows cool, we’ll be seeing more and more openwashing down the line, which will unvariably dilute “open” as a meaningful nomenclature.

But who controls that “right” definition of open in the first place? This was a closing point at the salon. While I personally think there’s good reason to protest against openwashing, what sort of legitimacy does our little Berlin gathering have in dictating a functioning definition of openness for the world? The lack of governing competence for the term might be another thread in openness’ undoing. While the Free Software Definition is curated by the Free Software Foundation, there is no responsible body for “openness”. Would an institutional caretaker improve or advance the concept? Or would it be best to leave the term as is — a loose description of methodology and characteristics? Time will help answer this “open question”…but rest assured we’ll continue tackling it at next month’s openeverything! (^_^)

So, is opennes a model for society? What do you think?

Time to get philosophical. The next Openeverything Berlin is sinking it’s teeth into the core principles of openness — digesting what we’ve learned so far from the Fokus events on Open Knowledge, Open Design, and Open Workspaces.

The event, held auf deutsch, will be on 28.05.09 in newthinking store, Tucholskystraße 48, 10117 Berlin. Come join us!

openeverything focus #4 Thinking Openeverything [Geschichte + Philosophie]

– ihr –

19:00 Tach sagen, Bier trinken
19:30 Creative Commons News
19:45 Thinking Openeverything – mit Hilfe verschiedener Tools kommen wir der Sache näher: zentrale Gedanken, Positionen, Beispiele, Definitionen …
21:15 Ausklang


Coworking is a brilliant idea. You’re a nomadic professional, tired of schlepping your laptop and shelling out $2.50/hr in coffee at your local cafe. You’d like to be around interesting folks, learn about their work, and share contacts and experience. College was a luxury of the past; now you miss your 24-hour campus library and comfy dorm couch. So what to do when you’re young, employed, and on the search for the perfect modern office?

Enter coworking, an office-turned-community solution for the modern spirit. As I learned from last week’s Open Everything, coworking spaces are as diverse as the people the frequent them, but the main idea is the same: create a space where you can plug in, wire up, and get some work done — all with the camaraderie of fellow pixel pushers.

The newly opened Betahaus in Berlin is an example of a well-planned space. On the main floor, you have a cafe, lounge, and exhibition hall for events and art installations. One floor up you’ll find plenty of desks which can be rented on by the hour. Wifi is as ubiquitous as oxygen, plus printers, fax machines, and other office kramm abound. One level higher is home to the regular members, who pay by the month for a fixed desk and secure place to leave their stuff. They’re also given a key to come in during closed hours.

The Betahaus is already becoming a studio-of-choice in Germany’s creative captial. Anyone who waited an hour to get into the office’s opening party can attest to that. And as Christoph, one of the Betahaus’s founders, explained at Open Everything, desk contracts are going fast.


But other than a hip home-office hybrid and new friends, what else comes with a coworking space? Well, here’s one idea that really caught my imagination. Patrick, co-founder of Station C in Montreal, introduced me to the concept of travorking — traveling and working.

If you need a change of scenery, pack your bags and head to another city to work remotely. Patrick and his girlfriend Marie are doing just that in Berlin. They found an apartment, a friendly coworking space in Kreuzberg, and set up shop. They explore the city in the evening after work, and during the day they’re at the office, working on projects and getting to know their office mates.

Also struck by wanderlust, Peter and Matze decided to do the travorking trip in reverse. My Berliner buddies have taken off to NYC, where they’re now camped out at The Change You Want To See coworking space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They seem pretty happy there, and from what I hear, there’s never a dull moment.

With travorking on the rise, it makes me think there’s a good future in developing a coworking visa. If you’re a paying member at a coworking space in your city, you could go and work at partner offices around the globe on your same contract. I think a visa system would encourage even more travel and strengthen coworking’s network and vibe. It’s definitely a cool mode of work, and I’m happy to see it picking up!


Monkeys on a Banana by furryscaly / CC BY ND
Computer Monkeys
by ChrisL_AK / CC BY


This month we’ll be talking about new forms of co-working, collaboration, and office sharing.

Joining us:

Where:  newthinking store, Tucholskystr. 48, 10117 Berlin Mitte
When: Thurs, 23.04.09, 19:30

oefb cc salon

Read more about our other Openeverything events & ideas:

Citizen Space – San Francisco, CA” by hyku / CC BY-SA


The second Open Everything Berlin Fokus kicks off 26.03.09 at 7.30 pm, newthinking store, Tucholskystr. 48. The theme? Open Design.

We invite designers, retailers, thinkers, makers and users to discuss
and share their point of view and experience in the field of OPEN
DESIGN. We hope to create an opportunity and platform to make new connections, find undiscovered paths and strategies to explore design in a collaborative manner, be it designers in-between,
retailers-to-user or maker-to-user wise.

Open design can be interpreted and made in numerous ways:

  • As a designer, publish your work for the users to make and remake it
  • Make the design sustainable by localizing private or commercial production
  • Find an international community around your design ideas to co-create
  • Customize your ideas with the help of users and retailers
  • As a user, become a designer and participate in creating the things that really fit your needs
  • and many more

How do you interpret OPEN DESIGN and in what context do you think you can make use of it?

See you there! You can read about last month’s Openeverything + CC Salon.


"be open. be free. be Berlin."

Openwashing: to spin a product or company as open, although it is not. Derived from “greenwashing

There’s a troubling trend surfacing in the marketing world, one that’s riffing off a now-familiar strategy, “greenwashing”. We’ve all seen products coated in greensheen, the misleading marketing ploy that spins a product as environmentally-friendly in order to woo eco-cozy customers.

Now, there’s a whole new buzzword bingo game in town, and it’s all about transparency, access, and believe it or not, “openness”.That’s right. Companies are courting openness like it’s the new green.

Take, for example, the above (badly-photographed – sorry!) advertisement from the Berlin Partner GmbH, a promotional arm of Germany’s capital.

Their new slogan, “be open. be free. be Berlin,” is designed to evoke coolness and inspire acceptance with the young and wired generation. I think it’s pretty illustrative of what I’m calling openwashing. Reading through the campaign’s Terms of Use, for example, I’ve come across these gems:


The user is not permitted to download content of any kind from the website and/or to copy and/or otherwise reproduce it, unless this is explicitly permitted on the website and/or made possible (e.g. the ability to send a link to a success story by means of a function provided for this purpose on the Website).


Changes or modifications to the website or parts of the website are not permitted.

So, let me get this straight. Users can send in lots of stuff and build the value of the campaign with their content, but they can’t use any of it once it’s uploaded? At least the Berlin Partner don’t claim exclusive usage rights for users’ own submissions, but they do restrict those users, and everybody else, from being able to do much of anything with it. Plus, Berlin Partner retains all the user content, even if you send them a termination of contract.

I don’t really want to bash Berlin Partner too badly, because I think the campaign’s concept is kinda neat. But I just think they should be consistent with their messaging.

But this is not the only example of openwashing, and in fact, there are instances that make a better case for illustrating what I’m talking about. Take a look at The Guardian’s “Open Platform”…and Dave Winer’s rebuttal of the misnomer.

On a meta-level, openwashing probably isn’t a bad thing. Openwashing is a side effect of customers’ growing desire to have transparency and access in their services. It’s signaling that openness is an important feature for today’s end-users. And just as environmental awareness carved a niche for green products, perhaps a similar thing will happen for openness.

So, on the one hand, I’m finding these slogans disheartening and disingenuous. It’s frustrating to see merchants of cool co-opting “openness” for closed products. But on the other hand, maybe it’s a good thing for the Free Culture movement at large. The more frequently companies resort to openwashing, the greater the weight they’re indirectly giving these issues. It might be opportunistic, but the more companies perceive openness as sexy, the more, I hope, these principles will actually be implemented.


Last night we kicked off the openeverything focus series, a Berliner initiative to explore and promote “openness” in a range of fields and applications. About 30 guests joined us in christening oefb, which willl be held regularly every fourth Thursday of the month in newthinking store.

Jonathan Gray (UK) from the Open Knowledge Foundation wowed us with the depth and breadth of his organization’s work, a non-profit championing open knowledge from “sonnets to statistics, genes to geodata”. OKFN excels in demonstrating how information, when licensed openly, can be remixed in unexpected and stunning ways. My favorite was the sculpture of crime statistics, but Jonathan also mentioned the great visualization work of OKFN board member Hans Rosling and the UK’s impressive neighborhood watch system FixMyStreet, as prime examples of mashable data sets.


OKFN is also generating public domain calculators designed to tell you in a mouse-click the copyright status of a particular work. These calculators are based on simple flow charts provided by legal experts in various jurisdictions. Jonathan told me all they need is a skeleton of the legal structure scribbled on a napkin, and OKFN will build the code around it. So if you’d like to get involved, join the list!

Sebastian Moleski also took the stage to tell us about the unprecedented 100,000 image donation from the German Federal Archive to Wikimedia Commons, which marked the largest contribution to the Commons to date. The photos are truly breathtaking, varying from not-so-ordinary street scenes to famous German sights and figures. All of the photos are high quality and licensed under a CC BY SA 3.0 Germany license.

Beim Festumzug anlässlich des 750jährigen Stadtjubiläums von Berlin stellte eine Abordnung aus dem Bezirk Erfurt Arbeitsplatzcomputer aus Sömmerda vor (Bild 183-1987-0704-077)

We summed up the evening by announcing the fusion of oefb and the CC Salon Berlin. As was discussed, a lot of high-profile adopters are opening up their content and platforms, like Al Jazeera,, and YouTube. And some in cases, these works have monetized in unprecedented ways; reports that NIN’s Ghosts I-IV beat out chart-toppers Coldplay and Death Cab for Cutie for the  best selling mp3 album in 2008…and you could have downloaded the whole thing for free.

So there was a lot to ponder and a lot to celebrate at the first openeverything focus + CC Salon. Come join us for the next one on March 26 in newthinking store, where we’ll be talking about Open Design.

To conclude, I’d like to give a shoutout to the fabulous people behind openeverything in Berlin; thanks for *everything*! Andrea Goetzke, Martin Schmidt, Christine Kolbe, Linda Löser, Cecilia Palmer, Nicole Ebber, Kai Uhlemeyer, and newthinking for always giving us a place meet!

Image: “Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1987-0704-077, Berlin, 750-Jahr-Feier, Festumzug, Computer“by Thomas Uhlemann, made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License by the Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive), Bild 183-1987-0704-077