fOSSa2011, Coders and Sketchnotes

I’m home from another adventure! I’m back from Maastricht, Bonn and Lyon where I’ve been working and playing on various thingamabobbers. In Lyon, I really stepped into a new domain for me, Open Source Software (OSS) development. I was invited by the energetic and creative Stephane Ribas to present at fOSSa2011, a 2.5 day gathering of mostly French and Italian OSS developers and academics, along with a few philosophers and inventors thrown in to spice up the mix.

Conceptually, the discourse on Open Source makes a lot of sense to me. I did get lost when they started talking code. So I decided to sketch the sessions where I could understand “enough” to do a little reflection and sense making. It turns out people seemed to really appreciate the notes based on the feedback on Twitter and from people directly. After the organizers scanned the paper images, we gave each of them their own picture. I sense that this is a unique way to know you have been “heard.” It also helped me get to know people a bit easier.

My talk was a mish-mosh of ideas that relate to supporting communities of developers and related roles in the OSS space. I talked general, not OSS, but with the intent that the ideas were applicable. Slides are also below. I went out on a limb and had them start with the face co-drawing exercise from Johnnie Moore. I sense it pushed some out of their comfort zones, while others seemed to enjoy it. My goal was both to show another “face” of co-creation and collaboration, AND to break out of the traditional academic presentation mode.

As I reflected on the 2.5 days, there were a ton of amazing ideas, but it was challenging to be sitting and listening in schoolroom set up all day. Just imagine these same people using OpenSpace and what additional space for conversation would be available! Next year the fOSSa theme is “archeology” looking back at the open source software movement. I suggested they do a large graphically captured history wall. YES! I hope I can help contribute to that next year, on site or remotely. In the meantime, I’ve been given a lot to reflect on regarding the politics of OSS, the wonderful side conversations with the wonderful Miguel Cornejo, who I finally got to me F2F, and finally, the enticing possibilities of RepRap machines from Adrian Bowyer! Holiday project?

My thanks to all the organizers, hosts, speakers and presenters. I had a wonderful time, including the great wine tasting meal on Thursday. Pictures here:

via fOSSa2011 sketchnotes.

fOSSa2011 sketchnotes

And the slides…which make little sense without the talk. Sorry.

View more presentations from Nancy White

Open Sourced Bright Ideas and Micro Support

EyeBeam CFL CoverVia Emily Gertz’s tweet of a recent blog post of hers, I was led to Bright Idea Shade on

From Eyebeam OpenLab comes and open source idea for making a cover for those glare-y compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) we are all installing to save energy. But the bare bulbs are, well, unbearable. I’ll embed the video below, because it is wonderful, but I want to add some additional observations about process and values here. The light bulb information is practical and usable, but what is going on with EyeBeam OpenLabs work is what I’m focused on.

What is going on here?

  1. A problem or need is identified
  2. A solution is created (in this case, building upon a previous product)
  3. The idea is opened up an shared and…
  4. an invitation is made to offer that idea to a manufacturer to reproduce it! (Eyebeam apparently also plans to produce a DIY kit but that is not yet on their site.)

The question that then surface include:

  1. What is in this for Eyebeam? (Beyond possible sales of a DIY kit which any other manufacturer could also create) What values are being expressed – beyond valuing open source. That part is already clear. Eyebeam’s “about” page gives a 404 error, so it is hard to fully discern by just looking at their web site. It looks like a non profit organization. So I’ll make some guesses that this organization is about the application of design in support of some greater good. Thus they find willing funders to fund their work and they “give away” their ideas as the result of that work. The additional benefit is the support of the designers and artists in doing their work and advancing their own practice. Hopefully the open source values continue past their participation in Eyebeam work. As a result, Eyebeam builds a good reputation and attracts more funding. So doing good does good for the existence of the organization. Does this apply only to non profits? As a small business person, I’d say no, it applies more widely. But is it practiced? Have businesses seen the strategic value of a triple bottom line that includes public good?
  2. What motivates people to solve problems and give away the answers? Is there a certain set of characteristics that motivate people to do this? My personal guess is yes – thinks like a perspective of abundance (as in good ideas) rather than scarcity, belief in the existence of many possibilities, and some sense of optimism. But I think it is bigger than that. What else?
  3. Why aren’t more people doing this? Or are they, and it is just invisible? (And if it is too invisible, what might we do to make it visible?) What can we be doing as individuals, groups, organizations and networks to amplify the positive effects of acts like Eyebeam’s which offer solutions to us? Can we encourage this beyond a lightbulb cover to things like improving girl’s education in an African nation, or improved health practices in Palestine?

OK, so bear with me. Here is the next leap in my thinking today. Is there a link between the work of organizations like EyeBeam and the idea of micro-lending. has opened a window of possibility on how an ordinary person in the US can support an individual entrepreneur in a country half way around the world who would otherwise not be able to start or continue their small business which supports their family. Tune Your World is trying to support musicians in countries without the economies to support their work by getting support from people like me who can support them.

Can we micro-finance and encourage ideas that solve all sorts of problems? Is there a non-financial element of micro-support? What would it look like? Is that kind of support useful or destructive? (maybe both!)

What do you think? What do you know of going on like this that might help us explore these ideas? I ask, because I know from my experience that top down, large organization-driven solutions are not going to work for all the needs in the world. We need to identify, understand and expand other options and approaches. I want to learn more.

Now, the video, in case you have a bare CFL that is glaring you down:

CFL Cover from Eyebeam OpenLab

Production by Simon Jolly

Soundtrack by I Am Jen (
SteveTouch(TM) by Steve Lambert
Project by Michael Mandiberg and the Eyebeam OpenLab

Flickr Photo credit:

Now, I also have a problem I just discovered. and I’m looking for some bright ideas. I got home from a three week trip to find large-ish animal doo doo in my basement and now I don’t even want to go down there to find out what left the doo doo, how it got in and how to make sure it (they) are out. Anyone in Seattle wanna come help me? Signed – chicken Nancy

Open Source Research on FB for Non Profits

candle or mirror

I have been talking to the folks at Hosteling International USA about how to reach out to and connect with 18-25 year olds about hosteling and traveling. I told Russ Hedges, the CEO, that I did not know a lot about Facebook (one option) but I sure had a great network of people who did know a lot, and many who have focused on the use of Facebook by non profits and NGOs.

I proposed we convene a telephone conversation and toss around some ideas. Besides having this conversation, I suggested that whatever we learned, we would share out – Open Source Research. Russ was game, so I put the invite out on Twitter and within an hour had 8 RSVPs. Social networks in action, right from the start.

Today we shared conversation for an hour. Towards the end, Jim Benson suggested we walk the talk and continue our research on Facebook IN Facebook. We’d start a little group, scan FB for interesting non profit applications, leave links in the group, then reconvene to talk again in a couple of weeks. I agreed to start the group and post the minutes from today’s meeting, to begin that “sharing out” bit. So here it is… Facebook | Open Source Research on FB for Non Profits with Nancy’s Friends

Care to join our exploration? It complements some work Beth Kanter has been doing as well. Imagine, if we all share our research, we’ll either be collectively smarter, or even more confused!