Today is the Day Against DRM

We always dedicate a few pages to document useful and free-culture oriented resources in every issue of the Libre Graphics magazine.

Stop DRM Today, we join the Day Against DRM initiative by making a short selection of some DRM-free resources we use in our everyday work. They were picked not only because they provide incredibly useful assets under permissive licenses, but also because all of them do without DRM or other restrictive measures to limit our freedoms.

Open Font Library

The Open Font Library is an archive for libre fonts, launched in 2006. It provides a home to a large collection of fonts published under libre licenses like the OFL. Unlike other font providers and frameworks that force you into their own DRM-laden backends, the Open Font Library respects your freedom. The catalogue page lets you browse the full collection and filter it with several parameters, making it a great interface to look for fonts for your projects. Everything can be downloaded: there are no restrictions, no fees, no obligations other than respecting the license of whatever you download. That’s the kind of service we love and are thankful for: one that respects you as a user and gives you freedom of action to use and repurpose tools and assets.

Public Domain Review

There is a huge collection of work in the Public Domain. The Internet Archive, an ever growing archive of these valuable pieces, hosts a portion of it. Yet, it is so big that it’s hard to grasp without a little help to get started. And that is the Public Domain Review, a project powered by Open Knowledge, that takes you through some of the hidden gems.
It presents a curated walkthrough to the vast commons that are out there. Fortnight essays, collections and curated picks are geared, in their words, to ” the surprising, the strange, and the beautiful”. Get inspiration and stand in the shoulder of giants, that what the Commons free you to do.

Project Gutenberg

While not featuring recent releases, the collection of books available at Project Gutenberg is a true gem, making literature available in several open formats, as well as no DRM whatsoever. While our personal preference leans toward printed matter, there are times when digital books might be handy. And we can really do without DRM through Kindle and other publishing platforms, since we like to know that our books won’t suddenly disappear. So we keep reading through Project Gutenberg.

F-Droid

While not directly related to the work involved in making a magazine, the smartphone is an inevitable tool for all purposes of life and work. It is therefore important to consider the freedoms that you’re granted when used your phone, and the ones that are taken away from you. One of the places where this issue is paramount is the “app ecosystem”. The software “stores” restrict user choice by forcing the existence of a centralized, “curated” and controlled hub, the rules of which you must follow to see your software available to other users. Furthermore, there’s tight control over your own access to the tools and their source code, mostly using DRM and DRM-like mechanisms.

We miss the days when you were able to install any kind of software in your computer, and wonder why we’re not demanding the same for our phones. That’s why we’re thankful for F-Droid, a hub that provides free software tools for Android phones. While F-Droid doesn’t boast the needlessly huge catalogue of its proprietary counterparts, it has all bits and pieces we need for turning our phones into useful, non-surveilled (or less so) and trustworthy tools that don’t restrict our actions.


A world without DRM is an excellent thing. And there many iniatives that make that point clear:
No DRM is all we need.

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Slides from “Dear designer, have these cool tools”

At Libre Graphics Meeting this year, the Libre Graphics magazine team gave two talks. Below, the deck from our second talk, titled “Dear designer, have these cool tools” made with scri.ch.

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Reading suggestions from the “Beyond the women in tech talk” panel at LibrePlanet 2014

Below, we present to you a set of reading suggestions created collaboratively (in real time, on an etherpad) during the “Beyond the women in tech talk” panel held at LibrePlanet 2014. This list is the work of a number of different people who attended the panel. A version which shows revision history can be found at http://piratepad.net/lp2014-beyond-women

 
reading list — suggestions from the LP 2014 Beyond Women in Tech talk

for those coming to this after not seeing the talk — a list of resources for folks looking to educate themselves. 

Published here: https://twitter.com/fsf/status/447461813849190401 & https://status.fsf.org/notice/45714

http://bit.ly/journalists-of-color  — list of 140+ journalists of color (with links to personal blogs, etc) covering a variety of topics (via http://www.diversify.journalismwith.me/)

http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/- queer, poc, atypically abled voices.the blog’s purpose is NOT to educate about privilege, but is extremely informative if you are willing to think critically about yourself re: what the writers are saying,  and their experiences 

http://www.crunkfeministcollective.com/ – “The Crunk Feminist Collective (CFC) will create a space of support and camaraderie for hip hop generation feminists of color, queer and straight, in the academy and without”

http://www.theatlantic.com/ta-nehisi-coates/ – madprime’s suggestion, Ta-Nehisi Coates, prompting this question. TNC regularly writes about the black male perspective & helps me understand the (or rather, his) African American perspective. TNC’s audience has a lot of white liberals, and he’s figured out how to make us listen (or me, at least!). (but sometimes he talks about a geeky thing or two like D&D http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/01/growing-up-in-the-caves-of-chaos/267107/ ;-) )

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/counter_narrative.html written by http://tressiemc.com/ 
http://melissaharrisperry.com/
http://satifice.com/
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/urban-scientist/ – “A hip hop maven blogs on urban ecology, evolutionary biology & diversity in the sciences”
http://www.racialicious.com/ – “Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture.”
http://colorlines.com/ – “Colorlines is a daily news site where race matters, featuring award-winning investigative reporting and news analysis.”
https://www.takebackthetech.net/write/recent-posts – “Take Back the Tech! is a collaborative campaign to reclaim information and communication technologies (ICT) to end violence against women (VAW).”  (They have a feed of posts, but are not primarily a blog org.)

For expediency & to avoid mainstream aggregates & for more decentralization, use RSS! http://lzone.de/liferea/ />http://planeteria.org/wfs/ />http://empowermentors.org/page/view-page-slug/1/home

http://libcom.org/node/43011  – Not Your Mom’s Trans 101 – Asher

http://ovum.com/authors/nishant-shah/
Nishant Shah rec – http://dmlcentral.net/blog/nishant-shah/how-can-we-make-open-education-truly-open




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Web-based IRC, if you’re at #lgm 2014

If you’re at LGM 2014 in Leipzig this week and having trouble accessing the #lgm IRC through the usual *ahem* channels, try this web-based client.

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Happy Document Freedom Day! Have some SVG tools

We dusted off the cover of issue 1.2, for which we had laboriously traced a set of illustrations taken from the Lello Universal encyclopedia, scanned and published by El Bibliomata from the Sevilla Faculty library — be sure to see their other sets!

To mark Document Freedom Day, we’re releasing the source file for all the vector traced images — in SVG, of course!

dfd-svg-toolkit

You can get the SVG file here. Happy Document Freedom Day!

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Open standards allow the unexpected

surpriseUmbrellas

One of the best things about open standards is their ability to surprise. A proprietary standard is designed with one purpose in mind. And, because only authorized parties have access to the standard’s specification, those designed purposes are generally where its utility stops. Because open standards have publicly-available specifications, anyone who’s interested can develop new tools and purposes.

Here are a couple great examples of people using SVG’s open spec to do the unexpected.

Sozi: A fantastic tool for presentations. An extension to Inkscape, it lets users build zooming presentations, using the capabilities of SVG animation.

Design with Git: Visual version control for SVGs. This project uses SVG’s readable, comparable source code to let designers track the history of their work.

Read the rest of our Document Freedom Day series on SVG:

Celebrating Document Freedom Day, celebrating our favourite open standard
Working together, developing open standards
SVG or: How we learned to stop worrying and love document freedom

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SVG or: How we learned to stop worrying and love document freedom

130-libregraphicsmag_issue11

SVG was one of the brightest revelations when we switched to libre design tools; in fact, it’s one of the major reasons that made us switch from the Adobe toolchain we learned in college to a 100% F/LOSS workflow for design.

After years of working with closed formats, SVG seemed like a dream: it’s viewable and editable in a wide set of free and proprietary tools, it’s based on a familiar XML syntax, and can even be viewed on a modern web browser.

How the death of FreeHand shows why open formats matter

Back in 2001, when we started our communication design studies, Macromedia FreeHand was the most widely used vector graphics software. At the time, with one single iMac G3 in the classroom, we took turns, in pairs, to design our very first double page layout using FreeHand. That was the first assignment using this tool and the one that got into computer assisted design.

FreeHand was a faithful companion during our five years of studies. In 2005 Macromedia was bought by Adobe. By the time we graduated, in 2006, it became clear that the Freehand days would soon be over. Illustrator, Adobe’s main vector graphics software, was the only cool alternative. So if you wanted to continue to work in vector graphics, you knew at you were suposed to do: learn Illustrator, even if you did not like that tool.

Looking back on five years of work, sadly enclosed in FreeHand’s proprietary format, we knew that moving to another proprietary tool would mean going through the exact same process in a few years. No other software could open FH files and soon FreeHand would be incompatible with the most recent operating systems.

We didn’t want the situation to repeat itself, and we didn’t want our activity to be dependent on the whims of corporations that we don’t have any relationship with. That was when we searched and started to learn about Standard formats and Free Software. We found SVG and we knew it was the right format for our vector work. So we installed Inkscape and began our quest in designing with F/LOSS.

Reverse Engineers

The closed black boxes of proprietary formats shackle designers to specific tools, and forces them into certain workflows that depend on those tools. And because tools like FreeHand can quickly and unexpectedly reach their end of life, we end up with many lost, undocumented formats, like old scrolls written in undecipherable languages whose message we’ll probably never be able to read. However, in the same way old scrolls invite crafty cryptographers to devise ways to decypher them, there are crafty hackers tirelessly working to release these formats from their orphan state by reverse-engineering them.

One beautiful example of this is Valek Filippov‘s and Fridrich Strba‘s work in reverse-engineering the FreeHand file format for the LibreOffice project. The mostly invisible nature of this kind of work makes it even more important to draw attention to it; Valek and Fridrich have been busy with this endeavour for years, and we’re crossing our fingers waiting for the day when we can finally rescue our old work from its still-impenetrable black box.

Possibilities for an open format

And what can we do with an open format? So much! During the last few years, we’ve done many promising experiments with SVG. We tried our hand at SVG business card generators, using the sed tool to find and replace text based on CSV files; we’ve set up automated command-line vector workflows using svg2pdf for auto-export and pdftk for post-processing; and we’ve been sending SVG files to our clients that they can open directly in their browser, without the need for specialised tools or using clunky interchange formats like PDF.

All this is only possible because SVG is an open, documented, standard format. There are hardly any excuses to keep on using closed formats that limit our intentions and force us to use tools we might not want or even need. Open formats are empowering, and by each inch of progress the world makes in making open formats better and more widespread, the more we can all grow.

Read the rest of our Document Freedom Day series on SVG:

Celebrating Document Freedom Day, celebrating our favourite open standard

Working together, developing open standards

Open standards allow the unexpected

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Working together, developing open standards

A snippet of SVG code generated in Inkscape

A snippet of SVG code generated in Inkscape

Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG for short) is an XML-based format for vector graphics, as the name might imply. It’s an open standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium, which you may know of already by its short form: the W3C. Because SVG is an open standard, its specification is public. Anyone can read the rules and guidelines that make up the SVG format. Anyone can make software that parses or produces SVG. And because the specification is public, that reading, parsing, programming and changing can go on for ever. File formats based on open standards never have to die. Your SVG could be immortal.

Let’s talk about the specification a little. For those not already rabidly interested in standards, the specification is the standard: it’s the document defining what a particular standard is and how it can be implemented. The specification makes everything else possible. The SVG specification has been under development since 1998. It grows and changes a bit, but stays stable. In its current form, SVG 1.1, it defines a language, and ultimately a format, with a diverse set of capabilities. It includes the features most of us know, like vector shapes, paths and text rendering; and features many may not know about, like animation and interactivity.

One of the joys of SVG is that it really is under active development, working up to a new major release of the specification. If you take a look at the archives of the SVG Working Group mailing list, you’ll see people discussing features and implementations. The contributors to those discussions aren’t just W3C employees (in fact, the majority of them aren’t). Many of them work for companies with an interest in SVG, or are just involved members of the public. It’s a diverse group of people helping to develop and troubleshoot the standard.

SVG embodies one of the great features of open standards development: it unites a whole collection of different players and stakeholders in a group effort to make something good. Companies that might otherwise spend their time, effort and labour building closed systems instead end up working together to build something everyone can use.

 

Read the rest of our Document Freedom Day series on SVG:

Celebrating Document Freedom Day, celebrating our favourite open standard
SVG or: How we learned to stop worrying and love document freedom
Open standards allow the unexpected

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Celebrating Document Freedom Day, celebrating our favourite open standard

This Wednesday, it’s Document Freedom Day, a worldwide day for recognizing and celebrating open standards. Open standards, put simply, are standards, file formats and codecs that are usable and implementable by everyone and anyone. In our work on Libre Graphics magazine, we use open standards every day, whether it’s in our print design work or in something as simple as an HTML web page.

For Document Freedom Day this year, we want to spend some time talking about one of our very favourite open standards: SVG, the Scalable Vector Graphics format. If you’ve ever picked up a copy of Libre Graphics, you’ve encountered an image originally produced as an SVG. For our illustration work, for posters, and for elements like our logo, we make heavy use of this versatile file format. We already showcase beautiful SVG images frequently in our “Best of” section. This week, we’re making a point of talking about the format itself.

We invite you to read along from now until Friday as we post a series of entries about our favourite open standard.

Read the rest of our Document Freedom Day series on SVG:

Working together, developing open standards
SVG or: How we learned to stop worrying and love document freedom
Open standards allow the unexpected

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Mini Debian Women Conference 2014

minidebconf2014

This weekend we’ll be participating in the MiniDeb Conference at Barcelona.

Two days of talks, discussions, the celebration of the Tenth anniversary of Debian Women and PGP Keysigning among other fun things.

Be sure to check the full schedule, register and contribute to the crowdsourcing campaign that will help support this wonderful event.

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