Category Archives: free culture

Free(ing) web games

In the past weeks I added loads of fun to the collection of free web services. Many great modern web games are not licensed and there are several contests and platforms that showcase open web technologies but don‘t bother about freedom. So I contacted the developers – with great results:

Soon to be freely licensed are:

All these are added to the already existing fantastic free and open source web-based games:

Thanks to all the developers and to Mozilla Labs Game OnMozilla Demo Studio & Chrome Experiments for providing such great platforms! There are still many applications without license information on the list.

If you know any more freely licensed web-based applications or develop one and have licensing questions – don’t hesitate to contact me.

Students for Free Culture conference

Without question, this year’s Students for Free Culture conference at New York University was an exceptional experience. So interesting to hear about fashion copyright, problems of textbook access in Brazil and who really let the dogs out. I enjoyed the lively panel discussion and the convenient backchannel for the audience.

But the best was meeting all the great people. Getting to know projects that are being worked on, initiatives driven forward in an effort to spread free culture and how everyone does their little big things which are all insanely awesome:

In fact, the unconference day turned out to be my most favorite part. It was my first one so I didn’t really know how it would be organized (or unorganized for that matter). The discussion rounds were really refreshing in the broad spectrum of views from people who know their stuff but also from newcomers interested in the topic. The lightning talks gave quick insight into aforementioned projects and much more. That definitely inspired me to do something similar for the chapter I will be starting next month at Stuttgart Media University in Germany. If you’re in the neighborhood, let me know!

Also, all the great feedback regarding the collection of free web services greatly motivated me to improve upon it. I got loads of suggestions and input to clarify my mission statement, set a structure and make everything more understandable. It wouldn’t be possible without the outstanding projects in the first place!

A major point I got from the conference was how important the interplay of usage and service quality is for web services, especially when we as a free culture activist group utilize them. On one hand, proprietary web services are used by more people, which makes them important for outreach. On the other hand, there should always be a similar free platform to provide that service for those not comfortable with non-free software. We advocate what we use, if we want it or not – we need to select carefully and go the extra mile to lead by example. With more users come more developers, and with a better platform come more users. You are welcome to comment on that or continue this discussion on the mailing list.

By the way: Dan, Rafi and Ilya (no Maxwell) of Diaspora, the decentralized social network, were also there and gave a presentation on it. You should totally get an account for it at diasp.org or geraspora.de – you’re in for some pictures I took of New York City and the conference! (I found that you can actually also view them without an account. You should still get one though.)

Lastly, a big thanks to Adi, Aditi, Parker, Kevin & Andrea from the board as well as the sponsors who generously made it possible for me to get there! And of course Parker, who made me aware of SFC and the conference in the first place. I am excited for a hopefully upcoming free culture conference in Europe and will gladly help out with that.

As for closing words, Isaac of the Free Network Movement really put it best:

»The people I met this weekend will be my peers and colleagues for a lifetime. I cannot adequately express the degree to which this thought excites me.«

Danke / Thanks

English version below

Die Jimmy-Wales-Taktik hat anscheinend funktioniert: Das Verzeichnis freier Projekte ist eins der 8 Projekte, die von Wikimedia Deutschland für ein Jahr finanziert werden.

Wow. Danke an Wikimedia, die Jury und alle, die dafür abgestimmt haben!

Wer mithelfen möchte, freie Alternativen bekannter und erreichbarer zu machen, ist mehr als herzlich willkommen!

Turns out the Jimbo method worked in luring people to vote for the directory of free projects (German description): It is one of the 8 projects that will receive funding from Wikimedia Germany throughout the next year (German announcement).

Thanks to Wikimedia, the Jury and everyone who voted for it!

If you want to help make free alternatives more known and findable you are welcome to join in!

Please read: A personal appeal from free culture activist Jan-Christoph Borchardt

I am going to build a directory of projects that enable living freely. Not only free software as mentioned in my last post but also communities like BeWelcome, text repositories such as Project Gutenberg and all kinds of other good stuff. At least for the software part I will focus on finding the most widespread and easy-to-use option because often there are many alternatives to choose from (which is great).

So I applied to Wikimedia Germany for funding and the project was accepted along with 39 other great efforts to make use of and spread free knowledge (article in German). :)

There are only 3 days left to vote on the projects which will eventually receive funding: If you are interested and can read German, please have a look at all the great projects and vote for the ones you like!

If you can not read German just prepare for something cool. :)

Free Projects as Alternative

There are many great free and open source projects around which can easily be used (studied, modified and distributed) by everyone. The problem is that they are not widely known and after all, everyone else uses Facebook and Twitter.

That is why I use

And the free projects have their advantages (except for the freedom):

  • Ubuntu does not run Adobe software
  • You don’t need to log in to view your Identi.ca stream (useful for internet cafés etc.)
  • OpenStreetMap has an awesome cycle map!
  • Libre.fm does not play the same lame tunes that everyone already knows
  • EtherPad makes collaborative writing really really easy
  • NewsBlur shows the original page, not just a bare feed
  • Jappix can talk XMPP, AIM, Identi.ca, IRC – even Twitter and Facebook and so much more!
  • You get to know people who have similar values

So spread these great free alternatives! Talk to your friends, show them Ubuntu from a USB key, give presentations, start a Free Culture chapter at your university – but most important: use free projects and help where you can.

Thanks to Benjamin Wache who introduced me to Ubuntu in the first place and Parker Higgins who got me back on the freedom track. You’re awesome.