Category Archives: Open Source

Jimmy Wales outlines plans for open-source, user-powered search engine

Volunteers can download the Grub web crawler, which runs in the background on their PC, indexing web pages according to their content. The crawler will be used as the basis for Wikia’s forthcoming search service. By contrast, search engines like Google run their own web crawlers and keep details of the way they work secret.

Read this item from New Scientist and contribute your knowledge of Jimmy Wakes or Grub to the Whats New Media Wiki.


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Filed under A Culture of Participation, Open Source, Search

Assignment Zero: A grand crowdWriting experiment

But I contribute to crowdsourced journalism because I want my work to yield a high “social good” return, and by that metric, overall, the experience has been frustrating. With some of these projects I ended up with nothing to show for the time I put in — either from being unable to get or enter the data, or from not following through where I probably would have, had there been support. (Support is crucial: if not for my editor’s encouragement at a bleak moment, you wouldn’t be reading this now.) And in the projects where I did contribute, my work had no visible effect — because of no follow-up or no publicity, or because what I provided just wasn’t very significant. All in all, I likely could have spent the time more productively at home on my own weblog.

Excerpt from WIRED’s Open-Source Journalism: It’s a Lot Tougher Than You Think

Wiki writers stand in stark contrast to the traditional image of the solitary, tortured artist. In crowdsourced fiction and nonfiction writing, the social narrative can trump a literary one. Still, from the complete expressive freedom of “A Million Penguins” to the careful scripting of “These Wicked Games”, each crowd created concrete works, though vastly different in length, content, salability, and final format. “What I have learned is that it would be possible to crowdsource a novel, but I think it would have to be done in a more controlled way than we did,” said Jeremy Ettinghausen, Digital Publisher for the U.K.’s Penguin Books. “What we decided with ‘A Million Penguins’ is that it was ‘all or nothing’ and that the experiment was about: there are no rules, there are no breaks, there’s no quota of people. We had a goal in mind that it was an experiment, and we were all in it together.”

Excerpt from WIRED’s Creative Crowdwriting: The Open Book

More from the Assignment Zero website and an introductory note from Jay Rosen, Executive Editor with Assignment Zero.

Previously from WNM: When we all write, does the reader lose? and Not ‘everyone’ can write a great novel

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Filed under A democratic medium?, Blogosphere, Electronic Storytelling, Networks, Open Source, Technology, our Mirror, web 2.0, Wiki

Why can’t social media be social?

Looking over the landscape of recent blog posts on open social networking, it’s clear that folks are interested in connecting together some of their disparate accounts on a wide range of social networks. The dream is that distributed social networks will mesh with individuals–each who are on multiple social networks–and that the whole thing kind of slides up next to the blogosphere and extends the notion of a free, open, distributed Long Tail environment….But we’ve got a long way to go before we can truly open up social networking. All sorts of social-networking APIs (application programming interface) will be implemented by different vendors–and we need a way to map these APIs together and create some sort of normalized world–where friends, profile pages, groups and messages all can line up and be compatible with each other….We need a way to find people and not have some vendor own that list of people’s names. There are a few “people search” plays out there right now, but none of them are offering up the source code to their platforms or promoting the notion of open people search. We even tried to do a PeoplesDNS once. So, it’s not like we haven’t been trying!

Read Open standards for social networking from C|Net

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Filed under Aggregate, Identity, Open Source, Social Media

MySpace and schools go together like oil and water

Some schools ban social networks for wasting classroom time or to protect students from weirdos. But, as part of a wider trend toward less top-down teaching, other institutions are putting tools like MySpace, Bebo and Facebook on the curriculum — and teachers are saying: “Thanks for the add.” Recent efforts to outlaw the Web 2.0 sites so beloved by teenagers include a congressional bill that would throttle funds to schools that do not restrict access. But Elgg, open-source social networking software developed at the University of Brighton, has been designed specifically with academic uses in mind….Broadly, Elgg represents a shift from aging, top-down classroom technologies like Blackboard to what e-learning practitioners call personal learning environments — mashup spaces comprising feeds, blog posts, podcast widgets — whatever resources students need to document, consume or communicate their learning across disciplines.

Read Don’t Tell Your Parents: Schools Embrace MySpace from WIRED.

School officials in Scituate are proposing to direct teachers and staff about appropriate use of social-networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, raising questions about whether school systems should interfere with employees’ personal activities. Scituate officials say they are trying to address the liabilities presented when teachers and students maintain online communication on these increasingly popular websites. The proposed policy, state officials say, appears to be the first to tackle teachers’ use of the online sites.

Read this article from the Boston Globe, commentary from ZDNet

A Pennsylvania woman claims that her teaching career has been derailed by college administrators who unfairly disciplined her over a MySpace photo that shows her wearing a pirate hat and drinking from a plastic cup. In a federal lawsuit, Stacy Snyder charges that Millersville University brass accused her of promoting underage drinking after they discovered her MySpace photo, which was captioned “Drunken Pirate.” The picture from Snyder’s MySpace page (which she says was snapped at a costume party outside school hours) can be seen below. In her complaint, Snyder, a 25-year-old single mother of two, says that Millersville officials discovered the image last May, while she was a senior working as a student-teacher at Conestoga Valley High School. A university official told her that the photo was “unprofessional” and could have offended her students if they accessed her MySpace page.

Read this entry from the Smoking Gun

Find all MySpace entries from What’s New Media?

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Filed under Open Source, Social Media, Technology, our Mirror, web 2.0

Decentralized terror networks mirror open source development

The former Air Force counter-terrorism officer, technology analyst, and software entrepreneur recognized early, early on the kind of threat we were facing. That’s because he had seen it before, in the digital realm. These overlapping terror networks looked and acted a lot like the open source software community online: independent operators that are quick to learn, quick to change, quick to swarm, and beyond dangerous to any competitor.

Read the full interview with Brave New War author John Robb from WIRED. Previously from WNM: 4GW: Network warfare. Do networks neutralize traditional military might?

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Filed under Networks, Open Source, People

The Mozilla Manifesto: Public, open, secure.

The Mozilla project is a global community of people who believe that openness, innovation and opportunity are key to the continued health of the Internet. We have worked together since 1998 to ensure that the Internet is developed in a way that benefits everyone. We are best known for creating the Mozilla Firefox web browser….The Mozilla Foundation is committed to advancing the principles set out in the Mozilla Manifesto. We invite others to join us and make the Internet an ever better place for everyone.


  • 1. The Internet is an integral part of modern life – a key component in education, communication, collaboration, business, entertainment and society as a whole.

    2. The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible.

    3. The Internet should enrich the lives of individual human beings.

    4. Individuals’ security on the Internet is fundamental and cannot be treated as optional.

    5. Individuals must have the ability to shape their own experiences on the Internet.

    6. The effectiveness of the Internet as a public resource depends upon interoperability (protocols, data formats, content), innovation and decentralized participation worldwide.

    7. Free and open source software promotes the development of the Internet as a public resource.

    8. Transparent community-based processes promote participation, accountability, and trust.

    9. Commercial involvement in the development of the Internet brings many benefits; a balance between commercial goals and public benefit is critical.

    10. Magnifying the public benefit aspects of the Internet is an important goal, worthy of time, attention and commitment.

  • Read the Mozilla Manifesto with commentary at the Read/Write Web

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    Filed under A Culture of Participation, A democratic medium?, Digital Commons, Fair Use, Open Source, The Politics of New Media

    You open-source commie pinko!

    Cuba’s communist government is trying to shake off the yoke of at least one capitalist empire – Microsoft Corp. – by joining with socialist Venezuela in converting its computers to open-source software. Both governments say they are trying to wean state agencies from Microsoft’s proprietary Windows to the open-source Linux operating system, which is developed by a global community of programmers who freely share their code. “It’s basically a problem of technological sovereignty, a problem of ideology,” said Hector Rodriguez, who oversees a Cuban university department of 1,000 students dedicated to developing open-source programs.

    Read this article from WIRED


    Filed under Open Source, The Politics of New Media